Juggling real life and writing deadlines can be tricky, and we don’t always make our best decisions in the heat of the moment.
I haven’t written a word since December. Maybe even November. I’ve tried, but I couldn’t squeeze any words out of this brain. There was a lot going on in those last few months, so it wasn’t exactly a surprise.
Since new year, I’ve been trying to write a story for a submission call. I really wanted to submit a story, but between having guests (including my newborn niece) and never ending virus infections (my kids have been coughing their infections back and forth, all the more easily for sharing their room since before Christmas to make room for our guests), the words have been coming slow. I started a few stories and discarded them after only a few words. Same with blog posts.
The deadline for this call came closer and I ran dry on words. My desperation became so intense that, in a crazy spur of the moment decision that I already regret, I went back to waiting tables. It’s not that I have anything against earning money. I already have a list of things to do with all the money I haven’t yet earned, so long that I have to wait tables for five years to make it to the end of that list. I really need new glasses. I want to renovate my little one’s room. And the bedroom. I want to save up for a trip to Mexico. I want to buy fabric (so much fabric) to sew all the things. And so much more.
One day after I started my new side job, the deadline for the submission call ended, and all I had was one half baked story. But better try and fail than not try at all is my motto, so I put together my submission. Reading the guidelines one last time to make sure I get everything correctly, I realized that I could send in two stories.
With the deadline only a few hours away and one story short (hah), it’s like someone pulled out the stopper. I had nothing to lose, so I sat down, wrote till three in the morning, and sent the second story off to my beta (hallelujah for living in different time zones).
“You need more deadlines,“ my guest tells me, watching as my fingers hit the keyboard feverishly. She’s not wrong, but since the lack of sleep had me finally succumbing to the same virus infection my kids had been fostering for three weeks, I’m not sure it would be healthy in the long run. Because now, I’m really having a fever, and this one sadly is no metaphor.
But I also have tapped back into my writing well and discovered new inspiration. So now I’m thinking I might finally tackle some longer projects. Because one thing going back to waiting tables does is taking some of the pressure off. It allows me to give myself more time to let a story flourish.
Since going professional (sort of), I’ve always felt the pressure of having to publish frequently to generate views and an income, however small. I’ve failed spectacularly at this; I resorted to writing shorter stories in order to publish more frequently, but it took me almost as long as a longer story to write a short story in the end. Now my stories and my writing career have time to grow without the daunting shadow of existential dread looming over me.
I still hate waiting tables, but I do love it when the pressure comes off. And I’ve heard it’s sometimes even helpful to leave the house once in a while to refill the well of inspiration.
The holidays are upon us! As a little (early) gift, I have a short story for you: The Witch, a w/w fairytale retelling with a sprinkle of horror on top of it. It’s the fairytale Penelope reads in Penelope’s Choice: A retelling of Hänsel and Gretel with a twist (and adult protagonists, in case you’re wondering). But I must warn you: There’s explicit content ahead (I mean, what else do you expect from erotica, really), and a little bit of gore.
In which I talk about my year 2017 in almost no detail and about the upcoming Big Book of Submission 2 in a little more detail.
The year is coming to a close. 2017 passed in a rush of panic, and I won’t miss it one bit. I started this year with goals I hoped to achieve, but as so often, I missed them by quite the distance.
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you probably noticed me posting a lot of pictures of yarn or knitting projects lately – not exactly what you’d expect from an erotica author, and probably not what I should be posting either. But to hell with all the should dos and the don’ts.
I’m human. I’m more than just my professional self. I write. I draw. I spin and dye and knit and crochet. And I battle depression.
The last one is more prominent lately, resulting in less writing and more binge watching of series on Netflix and Sky (OMG I love love love Babylon Berlin. German thing, so sorry to all of you elsewhere on the planet). Judging by my Twitter feed, that’s a global phenomenon. The public discourse around sexual harrassment has been everywhere; it’s necessary and it’s time for it to happen, but it’s also triggering to many of us. I retreated into silence.
#Goals, goals, goals
My goals for this year (and every year before that) were simple: More writing, more publishing. I didn’t quite manage the “more” part, but I take consistency too, in terms of writing and publishing.
Professionally, however, I made considerable progress. I submitted stories to four submission calls this year (which is a 400% increase to last year, when I didn’t submit anything anywhere outside my bedroom.) One submission got rejected, one is still pending. Two got accepted, and that is amazing.
The first story getting accepted was The Black Orchid, a story I’m ridiculously proud of. It appeared in the Sinful Pleasures anthology published by Sinful Press. The second story that got accepted is going to appear in The Big Book of Submission 2, coming out on December 19.
I actually screamed when I opened the proof copy of this one, as my story is right next to one of the amazing Malin James (author of the sublime Roadhouse Blues collection of short stories. Remember my fangirling?).
And there are so many more cool and amazing authors in this anthology! Rachel Kramer Bussel does a brilliant job editing these anthologies. In a way, I owe my new professional journey to her, not only because “Words” was the first story I submitted this year. It all began with a podcast featuring Rachel (sadly I don’t remember which one because I listen to a lot of them. I think it was Sex Out Loud?). After listening to her talk, I looked her up. I found the submission call for BBOS2 a week or so before the deadline.
I want to say the rest is history. After all, being included in this anthology is huge for me. It literally made my year.
But the year doesn’t end there, and because I’m more than a word machine (wonky on the best of days), life caught up with me.
#Words, words, words
For a while now, my word machine has been broken. There’s a special sense of irony in the fact that a year starting with a story titled “Words” ends with a complete lack thereof. Often, I wonder why I chose this genre for my writing, if I keep struggling with it’s implications.
It comes back to this: because I love it. I love writing about sex. About people figuring out their way and themselves, about pursuing the things they want even if they seem wrong and shameful.
“Words” is exactly about that: a woman figuring out how she wants to fuck, and putting it into words for her partner. She’s making herself an object by verbalising how she wants to be fucked – but in doing so, she’s the subject in this interaction, the one making the choice. She’s at the center of her story, not as object, but as subject, as the one shaping her world.
Words are an integral part of negotiating, inside and out of the bedroom. Every relationship needs negotiating, not just the kinky ones. Sometimes it’s about things like taking the trash out, and sometimes it’s about how hard you want to be spanked and where (or if you want to spank your partner at all). Negotiation is the language of love, and loving is to listen.
I’m glad that my year started and ends with this story; it reminds me of the good things, of the gift I’m given. Even if I don’t write a lot at the moment, I’ll always find consolation and courage in words: in books, stories, in blogs and articles and podcasts.
I’m having a busy week (why does the socializing always have to come all at once?), so not a lot of time to draw. And I still need to finish a story. But damn my brain, there’s already another drawing taking up space in there.
This one belongs to A Choker of Lace. I haven’t published it yet (although I’m finally getting close), but you can read the first 3 chapters of the prequel Initiation here on my blog (and I’m working hard on Chapter 4. I hope it won’t take another year to complete).
Read on for a raw, not yet published snippet! Continue Reading
My head is getting away from me with ideas…
This drawing is a total mess, but alas. The purpose of inktober is to make a drawing a day and get the creative juices flowing, I suppose – just like with NaNoWriMo, the goal isn’t perfection, but getting things done. Which is why I don’t even start scanning my sketches and drawings in to clean them up digitally and hide the mistakes and fuck-ups (although I do plan to realize some of them as digital paintings later on and get rid of pen-slips).
Is it very obvious, by the way, that I really have a thing for gags? It’s not only in my drawings but in my writing too. This one is an illustration of a scene in Sharing Claire. I reread it to remember the details, and I have to admit that I was a little hot and bothered afterwards. Read on for a snippet!
I asked myself why I’m drawing porn when the Internet is full of it. I’ll never manage to get anywhere near the incredible works of Apollonia Saintclair or Yannick Corboz, to name only two of my art crushes. In fact, I’ll never even reach my own aspirations, the dream image in my head, so why bother? The answer? Because it’s fun, and why the hell not. I’m fascinated by the connection between two (or more) people, by its manifestation in gestures and looks, and one day, I’ll maybe manage to capture it. (Also, practice. I still dream of my illustrated twisted fairytales, and as long as I can’t afford to hire someone who actually CAN draw, I’m still planning to do it myself… someday).
And boy do I have fun drawing porn. So much that today’s (K)inktober drawing has to go under a Read More. It’s a scene from my latest story, Mistress Marlene. You can read a snippet of the scene going with the illustration below the cut – in case you want (need?) some context.
Apparently today is National Coming Out Day – which made me think that I never officially came out to my family. On the other hand, I never felt the need to.
The majority of my mother’s friends when I grew up were gay, so I never got the impression that there’s an identity I could choose for myself that would not have my mother’s full support. I never hid my attraction to boys and girls. However, I never outright stated I’m bisexual either. For that reason, I’m not sure my mother is aware of it?Not that it would make a difference.
When I ended up with a guy, it meant a bit of a surprise to my friends at the time. Somehow they always expected me to end up with a girl (Heaven knows I kissed enough), and the whole affair with my ogre was a rushed head-over-heels-thing happening so fast that it felt unreal.
I’m not sure I ever came out to him. I continued to be confident and open about my attraction to my own gender as well as the opposite, but I don’t think I ever put it explicitely into words for him.
I’m a mother myself now, but other than I when I grew up, my kids have only little representation of queer identities (other than myself) in their life. I’m not a very outgoing person, and my social circle is tiny. Because of that, it’s all the more important to me to be inclusive when talking about sexuality and romance to show my girls that whatever they want to be and who they want to date (if at all), it’s okay. I think my kids are the only people I explicitely told about my bisexuality, but they’re the only ones who count.
Of course, they’re in that age where everything mom does is just embarrassing.
Apparently I ran out of motivation when it came to the background… plus, I ran almost out of daylight so I had to rush to snap my picture.
Maybe I should start writing little stories to go with my drawings. This one sprang from one of Ronald Drake’s fantasies – I’m mingling plotting and drawing today.
I needed this to cleanse my mind after reading the endless Twitter thread of #myfirstHarveyWeinstein. Each time I think I figured it out, I’m secure in my identity as erotica writer and manage to seperate the things I write from real life abuse, something drags my doubts back up.
And not only doubts this time. It’s incredible how many kids had to suffer creepy teachers, and reading those bleak statements brought my own memories back to the surface as well. The mind is a curious thing, and it buries so many things so well. Sometimes though, the coffins we locked our memories in rot away and let the demons out again. I was lucky to have a friend there yesterday telling me this valuable thing:
Do not let the creeps have control of your sexuality.
Which means, I’ll keep drawing and writing.
As for all my inktober posts, I’m determined to ignore SEO. I plan to bury these posts later on, and for once, I want to enjoy the fun of drawing and not put a damper on it with spending half an hour on figuring out all the things I should do to make this a SEO scoring blog post. Sometimes, there are things more important than that.
Who would’ve thought that snake-anatomy is such a challenge? And all those scales! And flowers! You’d think those are easy, but nah.
Today, inktober really is inktober for a change. It’s not that I’m running out of kinky inspiration, but it’s harder to draw the kinky things on the weekends when the whole ogre family hovers around stealing glimpses at my sketchbook. Did I mention that I’m keeping two sketchbooks, one for the naughty stuff and one for the *everyone’s allowed to see it* variety of drawings. To be honest, I haven’t used that one in a while.
I’m planning to write today (I have to get Chapter 4 of Initiation out, dammit), so I’m not sure I’ll manage to draw as well – usually my brain allows for only one of the two in one day, and my stash of spoons is often so limited that I even need to take a day off of creative work in between. That’s especially true after weekends. Days with everyone at home tend to drain me faster, so Mondays are my recreational days.
As my brain also tends to zoom in on one method of creation, I have to take care that I take breaks from drawing, otherwise I get too visual in planning stories and it gets difficult to turn them into words. I am a rather visual planner and most of my stories start out as tableaus I pictured in my head, or as a web of emotions and tangled actions and reactions; I learned that I have to harness the visuals into words rather than more images, otherwise I get completely tongue-tied over them.
That means today, I won’t work on my to-do list of kinky drawings and instead focus on turning the scenes I’ve planned out months ago into actual writing. Wish me luck!