Hard copy: Violet Fenn on feeling like an erotica writing fraud
IN WHICH I TALK ABOUT MYSELF TOO MUCH AND WHINE LIKE A NEUROTIC BABY
I’m always waiting for the tap. You know, the tap – the one on the shoulder which is undoubtedly followed by a serious voice saying gently but firmly in my ear, “You’re nicked, love. Crimes against Being a Proper Grown Up.”
Not only do I get this feeling with my personal life (I really am the most rubbish adult ever), it’s the same with work, especially erotica. I see all you people *waves arms expansively around at the internet* with your cleverness and deep meanings and extensive knowledge and I think oh my god what am I doing here?
Because you all know what you’re doing, and I don’t. But then I have to attempt to rationalise the thought process before it gets out of hand and I go screaming down the high street waving my knickers in the air shouting ‘SEE! I BUY MY PANTS FROM TESCO NOT VICTORIA’S SECRET HOW CAN I BE AN EROTIC WRITER GODDAMMIT?’
I’m feeling this all the more at the moment, with it being the run up to Eroticon. I was there last year (in fact I gave a talk, albeit about websites and the internet rather than sex writing) and thoroughly enjoyed it. And I will be able to catch up with some of my favourite people that I don’t see in the flesh nearly as often as I would like. It will be a fun and interesting weekend all round (and I get to put it down as a business expense, go me!) so I certainly shouldn’t be feeling as nervous as I am.
It doesn’t help that I have always had a somewhat scattershot approach to my work (across the board, not just erotica). I tend to get obsessed with one thing and work on that to the point of neglecting the others, then drop it and go back to the first thing because SHINY and also because that way I don’t ever have to finish anything and we all know that what isn’t finished cannot fail. Super adult logic.
All my erotica so far has been in short story format – single titles that were put out through a traditional publisher, plus the odd anthology contribution (and more recently a self-published short). I had a pretty decent backlist that included two stories that had briefly made #1 on Amazon and quite a few five star reviews. But it was all, y’know, just sitting there. And if things sit for too long, I get bored and kick them.
Which is why I recently withdraw all my titles from the publisher (who was very understanding about it all and with whom I’m still hopefully going to do occasional stuff in the future) and am now figuring out what to do next. I’ll probably put a couple back out through Smashwords (please tell me I’m not the only person who cries during the formatting process because it is insanity), and another will be rewritten as an entry for an anthology call that’s coming up soon.
So far, so motherfucking adult. But in the meantime I’m sitting here writing a monthly column about writing with barely any public catalogue of my own, which in my head makes me feel like a fraud. Maybe enthusiasm and willingness to learn should make up for this perceived failing? After all, I do genuinely love the genre and have made some true friends amongst other writers. Writers who have had ‘proper’ successes that make mine seem pathetic in comparison. Writers who know what they’re doing and where they’re going, and would never write a sex scene that wasn’t physically possible because continuity (I thought I’d already got his jeans undone, shut up). Writers who are Real Grown Ups and will never get the tap on the shoulder. Actually I think I probably hate them. Don’t tell anyone.
I’d like to think that what I have written is of decent quality – it helps that I do have a professional writerly background in other subjects – and that my willingness to learn is a big part of it. So I’ll be at Eroticon 2014 with a determined look on my face and a notebook in my hand, trying to figure out what it is I need to do in order to finally become a Grown Up.
Do say hello, even if it’s just so you can then sit in a corner and point and laugh at the Idiot Who Thinks She Can Write. Neurotic, moi?
In the meantime I guess I’ll just carry on learning and writing and listening and learning, and hopefully one day I will stop waiting for the tap.
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