It’s New Year’s Eve, and for many of us, a good time to take stock and evaluate the year past. So I’m going to do that, but a little differently—because this year, quite frankly, has been a life-changer for me. Hands down, flat-out, smack me on the ass and plant a big juicy kiss on my lips kind of Hello? Is this really happening? year, and I’ve loved every damn minute of it.
So here’s the deal: about ten months ago, I was in the middle of a third-of-my-life crisis (because, let’s be real, 99 years is plenty).
I was 33 years old, and I’d been writing since I was 7. No, really, 7—I’d written this mini piece about a pumpkin for Halloween that got into the paper thanks to my parents encouraging precocious little me—and as much fun as I was having, and as much as I knew it’s what I wanted to do, something still hadn’t clicked. I dabbled in all sorts of things: the first (seriously bad) fictional biography “novel” I wrote at 11, the second (not as bad) YA novel I wrote at 13, and a whole lot of “wow that boyfriend (and that one, and that one, and that one) ran over my heart so I’m going to go super dark” poetry through most of high school. Next was an excursion into sci-fi and fantasy, because I thought a romantic fantasy was for me. So I wrote another book (a full-length one, this time). And on the side, I penned some “really dirty stuff” that I shared with a couple friends, but it never saw much of the light of day. It was me scribbling about how cool I thought sex was, honestly, with a couple of smartassed characters who did things the way I wanted to try and/or repeat them (shoot, sorry mom, why do you subscribe to my blog, again?). I read Anaïs Nin, see, and though I thought she was a genius, that could never happen in the writing I put out there. Never. My smut was for me and maybe some boyfriends about to get lucky. (Mom, just unsubscribe now. But don’t forget I stole Nin off your shelf. And I love you.)
Where was I going with this? Oh yes. Back to the onslaught of my third-of-a-life-crisis. So, I’d shelved all the smutty stuff to focus on spec fic, eventually ending up at a fantasy writing conference. I’d brought a little story about a tormented stripper werewolf who ends up in the middle of an orgy, and my critique partners kept giving me the funniest expressions. I’d written a dark speculative fiction piece, dammit, what was with all the funny looks? And then my group mentor smiled all giddy-like and said, “You wrote a stripper werewolf story. Stripper werewolf. With an orgy. You like to titillate with your writing. It’s fun!”
Huh. Not what I expected.
For a couple months, I toyed around with this concept. I wrote two intentionally erotic stories, adding to my sad collection of three (four? I can’t remember). Then I refocused on my real deal: spec fic. I tried to start another novel. It was about a succubus assassin and was supposed to be seriously dark, but by page 3, she was having sex. I didn’t realize it until I was on page 10 and she’d gotten down and dirty, and then I had a meltdown. I called my mentor and we had a frank talk.
He asked me why I didn’t just write erotica already. The same night, my best friend asked me the question again.
I had a lot of dumb reasons in my head for why that wouldn’t work for me. Some of them were nonsensical misunderstandings I’d somehow formed about myself, and others were possibly valid. I don’t know, and it doesn’t really matter—in February of 2013, I made a deal with myself.
“I’ve liked writing it before. Okay. Why not? I’m going to try this erotica thing. I’m going to see how it feels.”
The next day, I was typing away at the keyboard like a fiend.
So in March, I made another deal.
“I’m going to send out some of these stories and see what happens.”
And so I did that, and dove back into writing. I’d already submitted fantasy/sci-fi/contemporary/mainstream/yes-even-that-novel-I-wrote-when-I-was-11 pieces out into the world, so I knew the deal: you send and you put your nose back to the grindstone. Write, write, write. That’s what it’s all about. And in reality, you don’t write for other people, you write because you love it. Because you know it’s the world to you, and you feel it as part of you, in your gut, even if no one else is paying attention.
That’s why the next month totally threw me. First, Rachel Kramer Bussel blew my mind by wanting a piece I’d submitted for a later call in an earlier book—The Big Book of Orgasms. I got the email late at night after coming home from a flight delayed by 12 hours and getting chumped by a prospective lover. (Seriously.) Then I ran around my house squealing and waking up my neighbors because, you know, that’s what you do when Rachel Kramer Bussel tells you she likes your story.
Next, there was the crazy rush I was getting from writing all this erotica. It was like my fingers were moving again. My brain was on fire. I wasn’t slamming my head on the keyboard trying to figure out why my fantasy/sci-fi/fictional-biography/Halloween-pumpkin story wasn’t clicking for me. June was right around the corner, and my little deals with myself had not only led to writing twenty-something short stories, but I was happy. I was alive. I’d found real love and true passion.
I was an erotica writer, goddammit, and I couldn’t be more excited.
So for me, 2013 is one blazing year of deliciously rich feeling, and it’s opened up my world. I’ve met some amazing new writer pals. I’ve read more of some of my favorite erotica artists—true damn literary artists—and then I’ve found a bunch more. I’ve started working with people who I admire so much I have to remind myself that when we meet, I’m not allowed to kiss their feet and/or drool. I mean, it’s only been ten months, but I feel like I’m living the dream—the most important dream there is, for anyone: finding what you want to do, what you love to do, and then…actually…doing…it.
I believe they call this self-actualizing.
I call it fucking rad.
Where will all of this lead? I have no idea. It’s about the journey, right? Mine involves a keyboard, a screen, a comfy desk chair, and an abundantly smutty imagination. We’re just going to kick it and enjoy the ride, because it feels good. It feels right.
So that’s my 2013 wrap-up, but it’s not really a closure at all—it’s more of a big open field of running free, for many years to come.
I’m going to go pour 2013 a drink now, because it was the year I found myself. And I hope that tonight, or tomorrow, or any day or year you face in the future, you have the opportunity to find as much joy as I have.
Until then, keep reading, keep writing, and love every sexy-ass minute of it.