I started seriously writing fiction in my teens. Like most new authors, I started by writing about myself, with a run of heroines who looked, and acted a lot like me. This can be entertaining and cathartic, but unless you’re Jeanette Winterson, it doesn’t tend to work well for the professional stuff. People with wild, exciting lives get away with recycling themselves, but us mere mortals, do not. ‘Write what you know’ is not a lot of help if you don’t know anything interesting!
I grew up, I became interested in other people, and through this, I matured as an author. Mostly. I dabbled in literature (I know, I know, I blush to mention it, but I was young, and foolish and had just done a degree in the stuff and didn’t know any better.) I wrote a novel and couldn’t find a publisher. Determined to write something publishable… anything… I started throwing myself at any and every publication I could find. I collected a big pile of rejection slips. It’s a sort of authoring rite of passage, during which you either toughen up, learn how to be more commercial, stick to your creative guns, or quit. I discovered erotica then, found I could do a passable job, and that people would pay for it. I was in, and for many years, I wrote more erotica than anything else.
Then, inexplicably a couple of years ago I hit a block. What had been easy became like pulling teeth. I started writing non-fiction and non-erotica in earnest, and that was fine, but the smut-muse had left me. I had no idea why.
This week, I worked it out, and broke the block. The reasons are embarrassing, but what’s not to like about a bit of public humiliation? The exhibitionist streak gives me a terrible desire to confess all.
I’d long since stopped writing about me, but all of my erotica up until a couple of years ago, was powered by my emotional life. You won’t find any real reflections of anything I actually lived through in my work though. I’m passably good at taking real life, unpicking it and weaving it into other things, but the feelings were all me. Oops. I wouldn’t handle murder mysteries that way. I don’t do it in any of my other fiction – sure, I draw on personal experience, and observation, but I don’t use my emotional life to fuel any other kind of writing.
I had a brief flirtation with The Het Fet diaries back in the spring, and I thought I’d broken the block that way, but I only managed three. I’d set up something that was supposed to be light on emotion, in the belief that would fix it. I got bored. More oops.
I’ve written three dark, emotionally intense erotica stories in the last week. One of them is going through edits right now, the others will be along soon. I have a feeling there will be more to follow. I’m not using my emotions any more, but I am writing emotionally. It feels like having gone back to school, or learned how to walk again, and I feel like a bloody idiot for not realising how I’d been working. I had no more emotional angst left to run on, all of my amorous emotions were going into a real, lovely relationship, I had nothing left to fuel the filth. And that’s silly. What kind of an author am I if being madly in love stops me from writing about love? Doh! And also, did I mention…. Oops?
Still, I think I’ve got it figured out this time. I shall feed myself with stories from other sources, play with what I know, re-write reality and twist it into new, gothic, erotic forms. My smut-muse has returned.