Ch-Ch-Changes

There have been big changes in my life lately and I’ve debated and delayed writing about them. Some of this is difficult to say, but it seems silly to continue avoiding it.

Several things led up to these changes. Part of it has been a growing conviction that the thriller I’m writing (or not writing) is beyond my abilities to execute. I just don’t have the writing chops to do it justice. It took me too long to realize that and admit it. Along the way, I lost confidence in my ability to write anything and that has been horribly depressing. I feel guilty as hell and apologetic to the people who’ve been waiting FOREVER to read that book. I haven’t given up on it. I love that story. That’s precisely why I’m setting it aside. For now.

Another factor is that, like anyone else who’s been paying attention, I’ve watched the growing audience for ebook erotica and erotic romance. And, yes, the growing sales figures. Way back in January, long before the recent blockbusters, I started thinking maybe I should give that genre a try. But work demands were . . . fucking unreasonable demanding and my confidence was in shreds and I never quite got around to it.

And then I lost my job. Yep, I got fired. And in the next breath they asked me to stay on for a month to help with the transition. Craziest damn thing I’d ever heard. I declined. All I’m going to say about that situation is that nepotism should be a cardinal sin in business. Don’t do it folks. It will cloud your judgment and cause you to make stupid disastrous decisions (not me, the head honcho).

At first I felt a bit panicked. But at the same time I was vastly giddily overwhelmingly (there aren’t enough -ly’s to express it) relieved. I knew the job had become stressful, every morning filled with dark suffocating dread, but I hadn’t realized how bad it had gotten until it was just . . . gone.

It was like William Wallace in Braveheart: “FREEDOM!” Of course, that didn’t end well for him. Ahem.

I gave myself a couple weeks to just think and de-stress. The prospect of taking another job crunching numbers filled me with that same awful dread. I’ve done that for decades. I’m very good at it. And I don’t want to ever do it again.

But I need an income. I’ve got a bit of a cushion, but that wonโ€™t last forever. I found myself wondering about the possibility of making money from writing.

And then Ray Bradbury died. I know, that sounds totally random.

Totally random picture of my daughter’s cat.

That sad event led me to a blog post by Hannah Tinti that featured an embedded video of a Bradbury speech and her condensed list of his writing advice (watch the video, it’s entertaining and educational).

One piece of advice was to write short stories before you write a novel. That sounded wise. It also sounded like something I could do. He admonished that writing should be joyful. That you should surprise yourself. And don’t do it for the money. ACK. Sorry, Ray, some of us have no choice but to at least try to earn an income.

He also said to write something you’d want to read. And to follow your intuition. So that’s what I’m doing.

With apologies to my mom and everyone else who expected something different from me, I’ve decided to write erotic romance. Yes, I’ll be self-publishing it and there will be a different pen name and all that goes with it. More on that some other time.

I’ve already spent the past seven or eight months (really, this idea has been percolating) reading erotica and erotic romance. Because you should never try to write something you haven’t read extensively. I’ve now read a lot of it. Like any genre, there’s a whole spectrum of good, bad and incomprehensible. There is also a wide range of diversity. From light and fun to dark and angsty, from mild to wild and everything in between. And I do mean everything.

The stories that appeal to me, the kind I think I can write, are the type that are more about the characters than a laundry list of physical acts. Stories, regardless of genre, resonate because of compelling characters and the emotions they evoke.

You might be wondering what makes me think I can write erotic romance when I can’t even finish a final draft of a thriller. Fair question. It’s one I ask myself often.

Years ago, back when I tried and then decided not to write romance in spite of reading and enjoying it, there were two primary reasons. One was the whole “I’ve known you three days, let’s get married” thing. I’m not capable of writing that kind of HEA ending. The other was that the scenes I wrote involving physical attraction and sexual tension were a little too, um, intense for what contemporary romance was at the time. In erotic romance? This is not a problem.

Apparently, I suck when it comes to plotting an entire complicated novel-length thriller and writing action scenes (yes, I know, sex scenes are action scenes, hush, it’s different). But I think I’m pretty good at creating believable characters and I seem to have a good ear for writing dialog. And sexual tension.

More importantly, I’m seeing results. I’m not saying it’s easy. Writing is hard work. But I’ve been working on a novella for the past month and a half (with a two week break while my daughter was here visiting) and I’m having fun writing again. My productivity has gone through the roof. I’m not a fast writer by any measure, but I’m astounded by how much I’ve written in such a short time. My creative energy has exploded and I’ve made extensive notes for two more stories I want to write after this one. My confidence is making a slow but steady comeback. And I wake up every morning filled with an odd realization.

I’m happy.

I can only hope that translates into fiction people will want to read.

28 Comments

Filed under health and well-being, writing

28 responses to “Ch-Ch-Changes

  1. Glad you’re enjoying writing again. Good luck!!!

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  2. That was another excellent post today. You make it look so easy. Thanks so much for sharing. I really enjoyed reading it very much. Have a wonderful day!

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    Writers Wanted

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  3. OK, first, your ex-employer is an idiot and an asshole. There, I said it. I had to read it to my husband, who said the same thing I did. I’m afraid my statement to them would have been something along the lines of “kiss my ass” as I left.

    That said, perhaps this door closing is just to push you through the one you’re meant to take. If you are finding joy in your writing again, then you know it’s the right door ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t wait to read it! Oh, if you haven’t been to RWA conference…you should. Just got back from nationals and the level of support is simply amazing. And I don’t even really write romance. I write urban fantasy/light SF with romantic elements. I still felt welcome there, learned a ton, and came away with a lot of friends. In the meantime, keep letting us know how it’s going! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. McB

    Yay! Seriously. Although my instinct is to say that I am not your target reader, every time I say that about a genre I come up against that one book that makes me realize that good writing can’t be pigeon holed so easily. I’ve also noticed over the years that the best writing seems to come from writers following their natural voice. And good writing is rare enough in any genre. So if it’s flowing for you then it’s clearly a more natural voice for you, at least at this time. Enjoy, have fun, experiment, find your muse, and go for it.

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  5. Merry

    Y’know, I don’t think being fired is in the same category as being laid off. the first means that you should get out ASAP and feel lucky they didn’t have the cops escort you. The second means the sucky economy, along with stupid internal politics, has meant they have to balance the books with an ax. In other words, It’s Not You.
    That said, I think Braveheart did good things for Mel Gibson, at least until he screwed things up for himself. So the lesson here is, don’t drive drunk, don’t impregnate your mistress, and don’t leave incriminating voicemails.
    I think you’re safe.
    And that you’re writing prolifically is a very good sign. I forget which book it was,but Neil Gaiman once mentioned a best seller that he’d started to write years ago and then set aside because he wasn’t ready to write it yet. Save the thriller drafts, that’s all I’m saying.

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  6. diane65

    I’ll read anything you write – I love your voice and I enjoyed the heck out of your book. I like thrillers (and you recommend good ones, so that’s a sign that yours would work well for me*) and I enjoy erotic romance – but more on the fun side than the dark and angsty. For a believable HEA for dark and angsty, there needs to be a LOT of character arc-ing (it took 3 books for Fifty Shades, not that I’d use that as a guideline for “believable”).

    Good luck, and I’m so glad that you’re having fun!

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  7. I was hesitant to post this, expecting all I’d hear would be *crickets* — so thank you everyone for the support!

    Melinda, I’m so glad you got a chance to go to Nationals. I’ve been an RWA member for many years — Beth up there in the first comment is our current chapter President (hi, Beth!) — and I attended the conference once, way back… I forget the year. In Atlanta. You’re right, it’s an extremely supportive, educational and welcoming group. I’ve learned SO MUCH from my chapter. Awesome group.

    McB and Merry and Diane, thanks for the wisdom and perspective and support. Several times in the past two months I’ve stopped and wondered what the hell I’m doing. But it feels right. Of course, it helps that I don’t have a mistress (do they cook? I could use a cook) and never talk on the phone. And I think I’ve used a quarter tank of gas in that time.

    Don’t worry, I am NOT giving up on the thriller. I strongly suspect that 90% of a writer’s “voice” is confidence. I need to get it back before I tackle that monster again. Someday I will.

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  8. F.L.

    Can not WAIT to read what you’re writing (hoping it will be available on B&N for my Nook). I, too, would read anything you wrote – I have enjoyed your voice since I first ‘discovered’ you, lo, these many years ago. I’m happy you’ve found your passion. Wait…well, you know what I mean.

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  9. FL, I’m completely floored any time someone says that. I can’t really hear my voice, I just know when something I’ve written sounds “right.” It means the world, thank you! I’ll try not to disappoint you.

    [gulp]

    No pressure, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Oh, and YES, it will be available at B&N. And everywhere else I can figure out how to upload it.

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  10. F.L.

    No WAY you could disappoint me, I promise. I do enjoy reading the genre you’re writing, and I can guarantee yours will be a HUGE improvement over many – you’re too intelligent for that not to be so. Some have horrible plot lines (and other foolishness) just for the sake of, well, you get the picture. Your intelligence, your wit, your sense of humor, your keen observations and insights into the world and people around you – all of these combine to create your voice, in my opinion.

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  11. YAY! Write!!! Hey, M/M Erotic(a) romance is very hot and a LOT of women buy it. I met a girl who was pulling down 20 G’s a year writing erotic romance/ erotica . I’ve looked into it myself, but we all know I’m a little lot lazy.

    Keep plugging away, and send me your pen name so I can read some!

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  12. Geez, FL, now you’re making me blush. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

    SD, thanks for the encouragement! I’ve read some really well-written M/M erotica, but I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to write it convincingly. I think I need at least one female. Er, in the story.

    And good grief, I’ve heard writers talk about making that much every MONTH writing erotica. Granted, they’re the exceptions and I’m not expecting that kind of thing, but still. Huge audience, if you can find it.

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  13. cbpen

    So, glad you have gotten this opportunity and have found something that gets you so wound up and happy! Isn’t it a kick when the words just go? I had that once, after I got laid off and before life got in the way again. I am still plugging away, but it seems every time I get a flow going, I have to go and DO SOMETHING for someone. Ya know what I mean? Ah, well. I am not wishing them away. I guess, I am wishing ME* away. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I’d probably get too wrapped up in exploring my new surroundings, so that wouldn’t work either. Guess I just have to learn to work around everything. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Like when my kids were small. And like when I went back to college.

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  14. me

    This makes me so happy, hearing you are cranking out the writing again. Keep at it! The thriller can wait, maybe you just need to step away for a while. I am eagerly awaiting your latest. Keep us posted!

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  15. You’re welcome to come back to the chapter meetings at any time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    We’ll be meeting and discussing Nationals this Saturday. And hey, start planning now – Nationals is in Atlanta next year again.

    I love our meetings and they provide such energy to keep writing. Good luck.

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  16. I makes me happy that you all are happy! Takes away the sting of “failure” about the other project. Thanks, ME.

    Pen, draw a line in the sand with demands from others. Seriously. One page a day for a year, and you have a book. Do it.

    LOL! Beth, I know I’m welcome, silly. Honestly, the past couple years, if I wasn’t working at the dreadly day job on Saturday, I was writing. Maybe now that life has calmed down somewhat, I’ll make my way back once in a while. Maybe. On the scale of introvert/extrovert, I’m pretty much a hermit.

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  17. Yay! That is all I have to say. Well, not really, but all I have time for!

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  18. KayT!! I’ve missed hearing from you, thanks for stopping by to say yay!

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  19. You’re my hero/ine!! You took a shitty event and turned it around into something that fills your soul with joy. Yes, it does. I know this because of how often you write, how you talk about it and the fact that you used a whole bunch of -ly words.

    You don’t hear your “voice” because it is natural. This is a good thing.

    I’m afraid you’re going to have to share your pen name at some point. Too many people are your audience for it to make sense otherwise.

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  20. Is it as odd for you to call me KD as it is for me to call you Keziah? Thank you for the kind words, but I don’t think I’ve done anything heroic. This feels more pragmatic. Like one of those Roomba vacuum things that runs into a wall or a chair or the dog and so it turns and goes somewhere else. Until it hits another immovable object. Or runs out of batteries. Or challenges the cat.

    I’m still debating the pen name thing and when and where and even whether to share it. I know there are some people here who do read erotic fiction and I’m fine with that. I think. The ones I’m concerned about are those who’ve never read it and might try it anyway simply because I wrote it. And then never speak to me again.

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  21. Excellent post, KD, and I wish you every success with your new venture. Sometimes when life pushes you off a cliff you have to stop scrabbling to hold onto what you had and just leap for clear water below.

    And I’ll read anything if it’s well written. Go for it ๐Ÿ™‚

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  22. Yes, that’s exactly how it feels. Life has pushed me off a cliff and I’ve taken a deep breath and let go. Kind of hoping the landing doesn’t kill me.

    Zoรซ, I hope you know how much it means right now to hear words of encouragement from one of my favourite thriller writers. Thank you.

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  23. KD,
    I’m so pleased you’ve found something to write that brings you pleasure! (Sorry for the potential pun.)

    Those changes in your life, the many many challenges, can bring exhilaration into your life . .. if you let them. It sounds like you’re doing just that.

    May each day bring you confirmation that the decisions you’ve made are the ones that will yield the greatest joy and success.

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  24. Thank you, Pari. I keep reminding myself I’ve survived tougher things than this and just because I can’t write that one thing (not now, at least) doesn’t mean I can’t write something else. I’m even slowly starting to believe it.

    I wish the same joy and success for you. And an eventual return to writing — for publication, that is. Waiting patiently over here.

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  25. Wonderful. Love hearing/reading of someone finding their “path”…and after suffering through 50 Shades to figure out why and WHY my friends (who I had thought were smart) were raving over it I anxiously await well written erotic romance. Preferrably without a lip chewed raw and constant “looking up” from beneath lashes Which isn’t even possible. I have got to ask…what is the response from your children on this one? I can see daughter being all for it, going after what you want, who cares what it is as long as you are happy, etc. but am afraid son would be a bit…shocked? Oh, and for the record, I so wish we were still “oficially” related as your “voice” is great and we could use a bit more acerbic wit at gatherings…

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  26. Oh good grief. I hope you realize that half the time I think of you as still being maybe 12 years old. THIS is why I hesitate to tell anyone my new pen name. [sigh] And you will always officially be my niece.

    I downloaded the sample of 50 Shades and, maybe because I never read Twilight and wasn’t into those characters, all I could think was she needed to call the police and get a restraining order. I wasn’t even slightly tempted to read more.

    Actually, both kids are very supportive, in sort of an “Eeww, mom!” kind of way. My daughter maintains that I have no knowledge of such things and that she arrived via stork. I suspect my son still sort of believes I’m talking to imaginary people over here and none of this is real. He might be right.

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  27. Well…I am 35 and the Mother of 4…which frightens me more than anyone. I promise. Still want the pen name. I read through all three 50 shades of fu$#ed up (though I’ll admit I skipped many, many chapters in an effort to get to the plot, which never really materialized.) Poor DD and DS. I love it. And you’ll always be my Aunt, too.

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  28. Hey, replied to your email and it bounced back as undeliverable.

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