On Quality Control
Updated: Feb 21
(Please note: This is not my actual keyboard.)
EROTICA'S A FUNNY GENRE
The people who make a living at it--and some folks make a really decent living at it--do it through volume.
I'm not coming for anyone. Promise. As I said in a previous post, creativity's a tricksy little imp, and it visits different people in different ways, and manifests in a million different forms.
But I've been researching this funny little genre a lot lately, and I've learned some pretty eye-opening things.
For example: one prominent eroticist recommends publishing twice per week. Twice per week! When this author sees someone who hasn't released a new story in over two weeks, he considers them inactive.
You do you, gurl. That ain't me.
So, who am I? Nobody, mostly. That's not self-deprecation. In my daily life, I have a wonderful husband, and wonderful friends, and a couple of wonderful jobs I feel wonderful about. I'm happy and--at least by some measures--successful.
But should you be taking writing and publishing advice from me? Nope. Probably not. At least not yet.
Having said that, I can't imagine releasing two shorts a week.
I stress. I stress a lot.
I've been writing professionally for less than two years, but before I got into that, I spent most of my adult life doing professional theatre.
I'm used to putting my art on display.
And I know I can't put something on display, that I can't share it with y'all, if it feels half-ass.
Let me be clear. I am not coming for anyone. I'm not calling anyone half-ass. I'm certainly not calling anyone who's working in a difficult field, and publishing, and killing it half-ass.
I'm talking about me.
On a good writing day, I can get down about 5000 words. Plenty long enough for a sizzling short story.
But (call me precious if you must) I can't share that with you. That's a first draft. That's a brain-dump.
After I write, I print it out. I read it. I mark it up. I fix it. I send it out to a group of five beta-readers. I digest their feedback and make the changes that make the most sense to me. Then I read it again and revise it again. Then I edit it. Then I send it to the world's greatest editor and wait for her notes.
While all that's going on, I commission a cover, because my skills as a visual artist are fucking laughable.
And, while I'm doing all that, I'm also being a husband and a friend and a teacher. I fit things in where I can fit them in. (I'll let you decide if that's a double entendre.)
One of my favorite people--who also has a hard time letting go, who is also precious in her own way--gave me a book called The Underachiever's Manifesto. (It's pictured above. It would make more sense if it were pictured here, next to the paragraph where I'm talking about it. In the spirit of that book, I'm not moving the picture. Take that.) It's for workaholics and perfectionists and people who get off on being little stress-balls. The thesis of that book is "Good enough is good enough."
Wise words. I'm trying to live by them. But I also know where my good enough rests, and I can't do less than that.
ONE LAST THING...
I'm that nerd who likes a little plot with his porn.
Or, you know, if they can't be bothered to script something--a dirty pizza delivery guy or a randy math tutor or some nerd-jock locker room fantasia--I at least want a little interview with the models first. I like watching a guy's face when he comes way more than seeing the actual money shot.
I can't write a just-boning scene. I've tried. It doesn't work for me.
Now, let's not confuse what I do with capital-L-Literature. I ain't Toni Morrison. I ain't David Foster Wallace.
But you may notice that my stories have a little more plot and a little more character development than is strictly necessary.
Some of you may like that. Some of you definitely will not. But it's what I get into. And, going back to my life in the theatre, the best director I ever worked with once told me, "I never worry about whether or not people are going to like my shows. I know that as long as I like it, at least a few other people will, too."
I wish I had that confidence. If you ever hear me say I don't care what other people think, laugh in my face and call me a dirty liar.
But I promise you now that I'll never release anything I'm not proud of, and I'm trying to let good enough be good enough.