Refilling the Author’s Inkwell

There will come a moment in the life of every author that will make you think that you’re finished as a writer. You feel that you’ve done the best work you will ever do and that the stories just don’t flow from you the way they once did.

There is a reason for that, silly. Don’t make me Gibb smack you.

Where do you think your stories are coming from? Do you believe your mind to be some infinite well from where you can pull endless buckets of stunning prose? The simple truth is your imagination is like a steam engine, it has to be fed a continual supply of coal to get up a good head of steam. And, for a writer that ‘coal’ is your life. The simple day-to-day experiences that a normal person lives through and never notices.

The flirty interaction between yourself and a coffee barista.

Observing people in Walmart dealing with their children.

Reading billboards on the freeway.

Watching a TV commercial for a shake-weight … I’ll just leave that one to your imagination as to how it can help.

All of these and a million more help resupply the inkwell that an author pulls his stories from. It’s why when you first got started writing things seemed to just flow out. You were accessing decades of experiences. Now, after a few years as an author, you’ve been tapping that source pretty heavily so the well has run a bit dry, and you’re thinking your ability as an author has been lost.

Smack!

“Yo, bartender! Jobu needs a refill!”

Look, it’s not rocket science here. If you want to get back you “mojo-baby” you simply have to go live life a bit. Read a book, go see a movie, take a spinning class, go play a round or two of golf … I don’t care what you do, but go do something. It doesn’t have to be something spectacular (but that helps, I’ll get back to this) but it has to be something outside of your normal routine. Take a different route home from work. Stop at a store you would never normally shop at. It doesn’t matter if you buy anything, just go inside. Do something, anything, outside the pale and you will have added a few drops of ink to the writer’s Inkwell.

But – and there is the rub – it’s just a few drops.

Don’t expect a simple trip to the local yogurt bar to give you the ink for a novel. Hell, that might not even manage a single page, but if you do enough odd things … make enough new and unusual memories, you might eek out a few chapters. Drip by drip, drop by drop.

Oh, you want it to refill faster?

Okay.

Time to take a walk on the wild side.

Road trip, a cruise, a vacation to the mountains, or a day at the beach. Get as far out of your normal life and lifestyle as you can manage. Go to a fetish bar … well, for a few of us that is a normal lifestyle event … maybe learn to hula dance on a trip to Hawaii?

Life is what give you your stories. You can’t lock yourself in a hole and simply write, as wonderful as that sounds, you must interact with others to learn new dialog. You have to see places to make them feel real in your prose. You have to experience the chill of winter and the heat of summer to write about the changing of the seasons.

This should not be something unexpected.

You’re a writer and, no matter the genre, you are writing about life. To do that you have to live a life.

Sadly it is the great tragedies that cross our path that refill the writer’s inkwell the fastest. The disaster that destroys your home, the emotionally-contested divorce, the sudden unexpected loss of a family member. In the same way, villains are more fun to write than heroes, for a writer, having to cope with something terrible will give you the greatest inspiration.

~”I know it sounds sordid, but your writing will be rewarded … for the bad shit that happens to you.”~

You must have been burned to write about the flames.

Pirate’s promise. MST

Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

Depression

Oh the writer’s most trusted companion, come to stand next to me and tell me just how badly I suck at what I’m doing. Trying to do. Tell me that I am looking at this silly story though epic eyes and it’s not epic. Rather it’s the simple story of a man that could not make up his mind what he should have been doing and was too afraid of losing things (that he now no longer possess) to try and do something where he might fail. That’s not epic, oh no that is so very common a tale. 

      “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an Idiot, full of sound and fury…signifying nothing. “

How simply those words are yet they tell us all that we need to know of life. We are here. We live in worry and anxiety about the time we are here. And then we are gone and the whole of our lives disappear into the River of Time to be soon lost but to shallow memory. And the damn sick misery of it is that we accomplished nothing for all that fretting and strutting.

I’ve spent twenty-five years of my life, more than half of it, building and maintaining a city. The nest of steel and glass where I was born, where I have lived, and where most likely I will die. I’ve already seen the ground into which my bones will be put. Have I accomplished anything? Has half my hour-upon-the-stage been worth that time I’ll never get back?

That question comes to torment me at nights.

Oh, I have the items a lot of people struggle for. The nice house – fully paid for. No loans, no car notes, no credit card debts. I owe only taxes, utilities, and insurances every month. Yet even with all the years of hard work it has taken to get to this point if I look at it form a certain point of view it’s meaningless.

A day will come when this nice house will be a run-down slum, soon to be bulldozed. When every possession I own, worked so hard to acquire will be in a thrift store, cluttering up someone else’s house or most likely in a landfill.

and I’ll be cold bones.

What will I have left behind me to mark upon this Earth that I was here? Photos, that soon none living will remember my name but will look at to make fun of my silly hairstyle? A few hundred crumbling buildings that the next generation of masons will have to maintain, the same way I’ve spent my life maintaining last generations work? 

Nothing but memories of my laughter in the minds of friends that will soon be joining me, in being heard no more … that is most likely.

Then I look at Literotica and I think, how many stories are there on that site by writers that are gone? I know a few. TTT probably can name a few more of them. They carved their thoughts with fire and fury to try and make their sound be heard long after they were gone, and yes it worked … till the site goes down forever.

I came to realize that I have to look at this world with eyes that see that nothing is permanent. We are mayflies. All of us. We flutter from place to place and person to person to find that mate we all long for then we spend our moment upon the stage.

Yes, we are loved. Yes, we are remembered. Yes some of us will leave behind children and grandchildren that will remember us with fondness and tears. But even those tears will dry. Even those memories will be lost to that River of Time. We are swimming against a current we can not fight forever! We will weaken, our swimming stroke will falter, the young will pass us by. Maybe if we are lucky we can catch hold to a bit of flotsam and cling to life longer than the others drowning behind us.

But eventually, hands will slip on wet wood … and we too will be lost.

These are the kind of thoughts that plague me on most Sunday nights.

I could hide myself from them. In drink. That is certainly a common theme for writers in the past. Some of the great ones in fact. I could do that. I could follow in the footsteps of those before me, but I don’t want to.

     “Two roads diverged in the wood, and I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference”

So what must I do?

Well, I know I can’t fight the river. And knowing that it seems even foolish to try. So not doing that I have to decide what to do with my time upon the stage. That half hour left to me to strut and fret.

I choose not to try. This pirate will no longer try and gather unto me what is Caesars but rather to take up a knife. To sharpen it with the rocks in my head till it will make some semblance at sharpness and try to carve my name into a piece of that miserable flotsam. So that maybe…

…just maybe

…someone, that will be trying to find something to cling to as they weaken and their swimming begins to falter, will see my name. Will wonder at what I must have been like.

And maybe they will be curious enough about my name to hunt and find some small collection of words that I have left, to flutter past in the wind like ragged newspapers. And maybe, just maybe…

…reading some pitiful words of mine…

…will give them a moment of pleasure before they slip from the flotsam and are they themselves are lost in the River of Time.

Cause I can ask for, nor expect, more or less than that from my time upon this stage.

Sound and fury spent, back to fretting.

M. S. Tarot

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Marriage is a Campfire

 

(for this analogy think of intimacy, not necessarily sex, as wood)

Imagine two people alone in the dark, in the cold and they decide to build a fire for warmth. They each gather kindling and, with shared-need making a spark, they set the “tender’ to fire with a moment of passion, shared work, and energy.

Tom Hanks “I HAVE MADE FIRE!”

Or more like Meg Ryan “YES, YES, YES OH YES!!”

They then work at feeding that blaze. Each going back out into that darkness for more wood for those hungry flames. Till at last they have a nice bed of coals in place and they can rest, simply enjoy the product of their efforts.

That is often the first mistake.

Times passes and both have gotten comfortably warm, but the fire needs more wood to keep it going. Well, why do both have to go get wood, the fire is going nicely, one can stay and keep warm while the other brings back what is needed.

“You don’t mind do you?”

“Of course not. I’ll be right back.”

And there is where the trouble starts. That fire really needed both of them working on it, all the time. It takes the efforts of both to keep it going when things get really cold, but by then one or both have gotten comfortable and don’t feel like making the effort. They just want to sit by that warmth they worked so hard to make and enjoy it.

Sitting all snug, staring into flames, they don’t see the continued effort the other is having to put out. Then when the other half gets angry and demands they put forth the effort they are surly. Why? The fire is burning so nicely.  But finally, grudgingly they do help again with the fire.

But a fire has a cycle.

It blazes, burns hot, and then dies back nearly to coals. It has to be fed or it will gather ashes over those coals and stop giving out heat. Now the thing is, even then you can put more wood on the fire and blow it back to flame. (not going there but feel free)

There is a problem with that cycle. There will be times when you get cold. When the chill of that world away from your flames will get into your very bones and you want nothing more than to huddle up to that dying fire and try to stay warm when you need to be doing the exact opposite and doing more work by going to get more wood to keep it going.

And it needs to be shared work. That’s the hard part, keeping both people working to gather wood when one is tired, chilled and just wants to sit by the fire and let it burn.

Its when those flames have been let burned down to ash-covered coals that the real trouble arises. Both may see that there is a need for more wood, but if they make the effort they feel that the other isn’t helping, enough. Not going far enough to find more wood, since all that close to the fire is burned up long ago. Just bringing back twigs when logs are needed. So the couple fights, and the longer they fight about who is doing what the more that fire burns down. Hell, it burns even quicker than before.

Mad one of them will inevitably storm off. But then, out there in the dark, they remember what life was life before the fire, and with that cold settling in they will gather as much wood as the can carry and lug it back to that dying fire to try, one last time, to keep it going. To show that they are willing to make the effort they wish the other person sitting there keeping warm would.

But how long will that armload, no matter how large, keep those hungry flames going? A few pitiful hours longer. The cold is getting close. The fire is dying and neither will go for more wood now. Not till the other goes to get some first.

It’s as that dark cold night gets into their bones that they feel so very alone, even with someone they once did so much work with, built something that blazed so very brightly with sitting just over the last ashy coals from them. that’s when you can’t even bear to see the last dying flames flickering in their eyes, you have to just look away.

Maybe they will look off into the night. Maybe they see someone else that needs help building a fire. Or maybe they see a fire that is already blazing but only one person is tending it, just like your fire was at one time. You know what that leads to. You want to warn them. But as you get close their fire looks so nice, you want to be sitting at it, to be warm again as you were once. You see the person that is not helping with this fire. That makes you angry and you decide to help the one that is working. Figuring maybe, just maybe they will let you stay nearby and keep warm.

But while you’re doing all this your fire has already died. Died to the point you could pile wood on it to the heavens and it would never catch again.

And the cold is closing in. And the night is so very long.

Maybe the person you were so warm with once has already left to go find another fire, maybe they even pissed on this fire to put it out quicker. Some do. Deliberately do it.

You can look at those ashy dead coals and wonder what went wrong. You can cry you can call out hoping that the one you were once so warm with will return and together you might get even a little flame going…somehow.

That has always been my own personal weakness, hearing that cry in the dark. Even sitting at the nice fire I have built when I hear that I so want to help. I very nearly let my own fire die about eight years back because I was trying to help someone else who’s fire had died and she was sitting cold in the dark. Crying for pity. That is a terribly easy road to my heart. Pity for tears.

“Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Tempt me not,” Gandalf the Gray.

It tore my heart when I had to turn her back out into the cold, but then I later learned that she had walked away from a nice fire, not a dying one, and was simply looking for a new kind of warmth.

I guess the point of this whole pontification about flames, wood, and campfires is never to let the need for intimacy go out of your marriage. The effort to get it back once lost is Herculean. And while you certainly after the first few years of tending a marriage with someone you know how to go back to the beginning and begin all over again, you will never forget the warmth of those first truly warm moments in your life,

when the fires burned hottest.

MST

Photo by Sandis Helvigs on Unsplash

Letters from the Pirate #2

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Professor John R. R. Tolkien,
Author-Professor of Literature
21 Merton Street, Oxford

 

Dear, Professor

To begin with I would like to thank you. I truly believe that, in no small way, you are responsible for my enjoyment of reading. At the still early age of twelve, my grandfather passed away at the untimely age of forty-five.

He was my best friend.

With his passing, I was a child lost within himself, trapped as it were in my own mind. Lost in grief I had been taught was shameful to display openly. Boys don’t cry, after all.

Then to add to this burden my mother divorced my then stepfather and I found myself through, a series of agreements and compromises living with my grandmother. Who was at the time keeping her 82-year-old mother.

It’s not that I was a burden, I simply wasn’t anything. I had always been a decent mannered child. Quiet, neat in my habits, and friendly. An introvert, well before the times when such were called that but, unlike most introverted people, I wasn’t always with my nose in a book. See, I’m dyslexic. It was incredibly hard for me to master reading. my grandmother had worked with me when I was little, but the teachers at school wrote me off as having a learning disability or simply by saying I was inattentive since I didn’t instantly pick up on what they were teaching. At least … not at the same speed that the other students did.

I was in the 5th or 6th grade when we were sent to the library to find a book to read and do a small review of. We were to work with the librarian to find a book that would fit us as a person. I told her I liked swords.

I collected knives after all. What’s a sword but a big knife, right?

She gave me an inch thick green cloth covered book with no dust cover. The title very familiar to yourself. “The Hobbit.”

I struggled through the first few pages till the unexpected party was in full swing and Thorin was telling of the dragon. By then I was hooked … of course. You’re too good of a writer to not hook your target audience. My dyslexia had to get out of the way, I wanted to read that story. And I did. Over and over. The librarian finally had to ask me to check out something else and give someone else in the school a chance to read the book. I would bring it in and check it right back out.

See your book allowed me to finally escape from the prison of grief that I had been trapped in. I could pick it up and go hide in Middle Earth anytime I needed to do so. Which I hate to say was often throughout the years to follow.

True, I found other authors to read, thousands of others in fact. But you, Professor, you were the one that gave me the key to the shackles holding my mind trapped in a mental gulag of jumbled letters.

My passion for your story retrained my brain in how to read.

For that sir, thank you. From all my heart thank you.

Now almost forty years have passed since I tried to wear the cover off that old library book. No longer am I just a reader but an author myself. I have not your talent with languages, I’m afraid. For the most part, computer programs aid me in making my pitiful jumble of words to resemble something literary in nature. I’m still guessing half the time when I place a comma. I couldn’t diagram a sentence to save my life. A high school drop out, who was a D student in English, truthfully has no business being an author.

But I am.

I’m an author because I have a story to tell. A great many of them, in fact. I have placed over a hundred and thirty short stories online and I have seven e-books on Amazon, and I’ve contributed stories to two anthologies. Not too shabby for a man who has only been writing for about five years. Shrug, I try to get the stories I want to tell out there to be read, whether they are perfect or not. I may regret that at some future date. The whips and scorn of literary history may not be kind to this poor fool.

I think … if I could choose how to spend the rest of my years I would love to go back to school. To have the chance to learn the things I don’t know, and to use that acquired knowledge to correct the mistakes I’ve made in what I’ve done and to try and, perhaps, to try and leave a few better books for the future.

Who knows, maybe some poor story of mine will catch the eye of a person who is called Learning disable, or inattentive.

Again, thank you, Professor. I wish you and I could sit in a garden under a large tree and smoke pipes and talk about … well, about anything. Even about hobbits that live in holes in the ground. That would be fine, sir.

That would be fine indeed.

Piratically speaking,
M.S.Tarot

Photo by Lucas Gruwez on Unsplash

Religion

They say don’t discuss politics or religion. You wanna know my stance on being told what not to do?

Let’s talk about religion, then.

My earliest memories of church involve fear. In my home when I was a child you didn’t raise your voice. That’s just the way it was, you didn’t yell in the house, you spoke in a normal quiet tone. The only time an adult raised their voice was when I had done something wrong. (not an often thing, I really was a very good kid)

I think it was an Easter sunrise service, maybe, but my Aunt Pat took me and her two sons ( my cousins, who I haven’t spoken to in a decade now) to church. It was a fire and brimstone Southern Baptist church, with the preacher to go with it. He could have done Sam Kinison proud he screamed so much. Scared me to death. (see above for why)

That fear would be with me for the next few years. Then it was things like the offering plate, being passed around. when it came to me I would always feel “Terrible” that I never had anything to put in it.

At that time also my dyslexia was going at full-bore. I had yet to master reading, and could not remember numbers at all. Try giving the Bible a read when you can’t make the letters stay where they are and can’t remember what chapter is which. I liked the pictures in the old big family bible we kept on the coffee table.

Then my grandfather died.

I was ten. I didn’t understand death. Had never seen it before and it had just taken my best friend in the whole world from me, and it was in some way linked in my brain to the church, by his funeral. After that moment I never looked in a bible again.

Then I began to learn a love of history. And when you do that and you see what religion has done, well two thousand years of brutality in “God’s Name” that takes the blinders off. By the time I was in my twenties I was an agnostic. One of those things my family never really wants to know about.

Now here in the Southern US, you’re not only surrounded by religion, you’re beat upside the head with it. There are 12,833 churches in the state of Alabama. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one.

“I’m an agnostic.” Me, while working on building a church.

“But you believe in Jesus, right?” My boss, in shock.

(fuckin’ moron.)

You can’t get away from that attitude either. “You need to come to church with us.” Wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve been told that.

Got into a wonderful debate at work once with a Methodist trying to recruit me. I let him have his say, listened to all his arguments. Then asked him to look at it from my point of view.

“I worship blue monkeys, that drive yellow cheese cars, and live on the back side of the moon. Now you can’t see them, but you simply have to have faith that they are there, driving cars around the backside of the moon, Watching over us, guiding us to the best bananas. Now they provided humanity with a guild to their thoughts, their word as it were. It’s the produce guide in the grocery store. Just give it a look and it will guide you to the very best thing in life that you ever can have.

A perfectly ripe banana.”

Oh damn, he got mad at me. Didn’t speak to me for a week.

You take children at a young age, tell them what they need to believe. Use a bit of fear of pain to motivate them to believe, ( a lake of eternal fire) then tell them they will see their lost loved ones in a perfect place, without pain, where you can have endless fun.  “But only if you believe”

Just don’t dare call it brainwashing.

I’ve drifted from agnostic to paganism, nature worship at its most basic I guess, to a inner spiritualism. Kind of sort of Buddhism in ways without any structure. I like the idea that you come back over and over till you live a life as close to “perfect” as you can. Harming none. Seeking only self-development and personal growth for the pleasure of it. Die knowing you’re one step closer to whatever light is at the end of the tunnel. A place far in the future when you’ve grown so much inside that you could shake hands with “god” as an equal.

Life is our trial run, our cleansing out of impurities, by repeated hammering in the forge of Fate. We have to take the blows and keep getting up, simply to know we’re going to be hit again, probably even harder. But in the end, at the last, maybe we can be something greater than we ever thought we could be for all that pain.

Probably all bunk, but it gives me some comfort.

Of late I’ve been calling myself a member of the FSM. That to me could not get more perfect. It touches on everything that I love with a tongue in cheek attitude that lets me smile as I tell people about it.

Far as Christianity and their whole grand scheme, I think my grandmother had it right. How can there be a Heaven if there is a Hell? How could you be in Heaven, at peace, knowing that anyone you loved was suffering in Hell? Simply for not believing. And if there is no Hell, then everyone that died must have gone to Heaven. And there are some people, that have died, that could make a Hell of Heaven simply by being there.

If you want to worship “God”, go outside. Look at his “Church’ in all its harmonious beauty around you. Then at night look at his heaven above you, in all, it’s spectacular Majesty. Don’t thank him when things go right, or curse him when they go wrong. Don’t ask him for things in prayer. Just live. Live right, to the best of whatever that means for you personally. Don’t let another person tell you what God is, (not even me here) they don’t know and are simply repeating what they have been told. Believe as you wish to believe.

Learn. Question. Drink. Have fun. Have sex, often.

And if God won’t let you into Heaven for doing that, then he is not God, and you don’t want to go there anyway.

M.S.Tarot

Photo by photo-nic.co.uk nic on Unsplash

Mentors

Yep, those wonderful little round candy things you drop into a bottle of diet Coke …

Ah, oh, oopsy sorry wrong word.

Ah, yes, mentors. Well, I could simply tell you to get yourself some. I promise having a writer mentor will improve your writing a thousandfold. But that’s a cop-out on my point and only half the explanation.

There is a famous quote that states “Writing is a solitary endeavor best done in groups.” and that is very true. See writing in a group takes that inner focus and adds a competitive edge. It’s similar to sports where others push us to strive for great excellence in ourselves than we could ever achieve alone. When you pick up a book by your favorite author and you read their work you’re captivated by the quality of the storytelling, the grammatical perfection. The way the characters stay with you for years to come. Ever cried a tear at the death of a character in a book?

But that was a big name author, right? Someone with a publishing house behind them.

Well, let’s bring it down a notch to Indie writers. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some indie writers that will blow the best writer a publishing house has to offer out the water. And the marvelous thing is the internet is allowing more and more of those authors to rise to the point they are household names. But indie writers are hungry struggling authors. They don’t have the backing of a publisher. Working on their own they can still fight the good fight but … it makes it harder.

So take that indie writer and gather several more just like them together. Well, well now what do we have? A group that will be able to proofread each other’s work. That can be sounding boards for story ideas, beta readers, line editors, book cover creators or critics. Once published they can help advertise the writer’s work. The multiple websites, Twitter sites, FB pages and other social media can place the book before far more eyes than any single writer alone.

But that is not a mentor. A mentor is generally a single individual. And what does that person do for the pupil? Glad you asked.

A mentor does what a group does. They push a writer to excel, but they do it by giving the writer a strong example. A person for the writer to hold up their work next to and say I want my writing to be at least as good as this writer’s best work. Now a mentor can be strict and, in ways, that makes it even more productive. As a harsh taskmaster can make you push yourself … but it can also be a bad thing.

Let me explain.

Writers are monuments to lack of confidence. You could build statues to honor how un-confident a writer can be. They will often need hand holding. Guiding. Gentle handing.  Candlelight dinners. Soft caresses. Stolen kisses in warm secret places while gently …

Sorry.

~Shrug~

Erotica writer.

Um … back to what I was saying. I have, in five years, seen a half dozen writers simply worry themselves out of the craft.

“My work is all crap. I’ll never write anything perfect enough to publish.”

Sigh.

The sad truth of that is that they may be correct. Those writers may not ever get published. And that’s sad since their writing often is on par with the best out there on the New York Times bestseller list. Only lack of confidence will keep them on that list. Drive, and ambition are not, contrary to popular belief, things you are born with. They are learned. And, like all learned things, you can learn them better. There is no roof to how much ambition you can have. Nor how much drive you can use to push yourself. No limit.

And here is where a mentor helps. They give that younger write the sparks that lite the fires of ambition, which feed their drive. Yes they hold the hand of the writer, they guide them but, more so than that, they show by their own writing career what can be accomplished. They, with their own struggles, stand as an example to the younger writer how to never quit. How to always keep the brass ring in sight and how the bad things can’t bring the mentor down.

But of course, they do. The mentor is nothing but a writer themselves. They have the same insecurity the same uncertainty. So how do they keep pushing forward when they feel their own writing is such crap?

Because they don’t want to let that writer that looks up to them down.

So yes, go get you a writing mentor but at the same time think about being one to another writer. Being a mentor to another will not only improve their writing but your own.

Remember, other writers are not your competition, the only competition a writer has is themselves.

MST

Photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash

Self-confidence is not a Sin

You will not have to burn in Writer’s Hell for having a little.

Here’s the thing about writers, 99% of them will kill their own dreams of becoming a well-known writer and the main cause of that is a lack of self-confidence. Either they strive for an unattainable level of perfection, deriding their own ability to write to the point they throw away what may have been their bestseller before it was ever finished, or … they do even worse and never write it at all. Telling themselves the whole time they are not writing that they would have to do so much work to “Fix It” that it’s just not worth working on.

And the more of this self-doubt procrastination they do … the worse it becomes, till in frustration they toss away their quills, send the typewriter out the window to learn to fly, or they bash their computer laptop in with a baseball bat.

“I … will … never … write again!” (Who heard Shatner? What I was going for there.)

Look, it’s as simple as this. You want to be a writer. Then write something. Anything. Everything. You can worry yourself into immobility about whether it will be liked, if it’s good enough, or if you need to do another “revision” to chapter ten. Just write. Yes, there is most certainly a high-quality standard in the literary world but guess what, you’re an erotica writer. From their point of view, you’re already at the bottom rung. Does that mean you get to not try as hard and slack off on the quality … hell no! In fact, you need to be writing even better than the next writer who is peddling Harlequin-level, pocket-pool romance just to get your story noticed.

I mean, after all, you wanted to be a good writer. Yes?

So, you do just that. Simple huh?

You do the best you can. You write that story of yours with the idea always in your head “This is going to be the best thing I have ever written.” You’re a good writer and you are writing it to the very best of your abilities, yes? Your story idea is good, the characters are awesome? The pacing of the storytelling is spot on? Got a strong hook? The sex scene was smoking hot? The ending is well thought out? Have you done all that you could do to make it a good story? Then that is enough. Stop sitting on it like a mother hen and get it out there to face the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” that are the best judge of its real quality.

See the thing is, you’ve seen it so much you’re story-blind to it.

Even if it was a New York Times Best Seller, you would chuck it into the trashcan as “unreadable junk” simply because you’ve seen it too much. Get it out of your hands and let it face the music, you already paid the band for the tune–with time taken out your life writing it–you might as well see if it can dance.

“But what if they don’t like it?”

Write another one. Oh, they don’t like that one either? Well, here’s another one.

Keep writing. Loved, hated it doesn’t matter. Keep writing. And when those bad reviews do come in, and they will, that’s when you must lend the eye a terrible aspect and imitate the action of the tiger.

Don’t get depressed that it wasn’t liked, you get angry that it wasn’t liked.

Write another! Do not quit. Never! Let the bad comments, the snarky reviews, and the publisher’s rejection letters stack to the ceiling. When you’re a top paid erotica writer you can use all those letters and reviews to wallpaper the walls of your office. It will be nice to look at them in fond remembrance from when you were struggling.

“And the bad comments?”

What are you two? Sticks and stones, remember? If it’s from an anonymous source then ignore it, Anon is an idiot. He can’t even remember his own name!

“Well, what if it’s a well-known writer?”

Was his last name King, Butcher, or Clancy? Did she sign the comment Anne Rice, J. K. Rowling, or Sherrilyn Kenyon? And let me ask you this … what if it was one of them? You think they were confident?

King threw his novel, Carrie, into the trash. Rowling was rejected twelve times while trying to get Harry Potter to sell. Butcher’s first book signing had him sign less than a dozen books, mostly for fellow authors.

Writing is a struggle, becoming a published Author is a fight, this is no time to doubt yourself. There will be more than enough people out there that will be happy to do that for you and to try flinging mud to make you look bad.

Your self-confidence is your Teflon armor in the battle you joined. You put it on the moment you picked you a pen. And so long as you hold onto it, and let nothing “get to you,” that mud will slide right off. Lift that pen to the sky and say with the pride your quality of writing deserves.

“I AM A WRITER! And who the fuck do you think you are to try to tell me I’m not?”

MST

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

Looking Beyond the Page

Words. Phrases. Sentences. Paragraphs. Chapters. Books. Series.

Be it one of the above, or many, that is your goal. To put together those and make the words have greater meaning than a random jumble of letters. We’re not cavemen grunting out stories in the firelight, we’re writers. We use words … to tell … a story? Wait a moment, now. Is that not exactly what that caveman was doing? He was telling stories, he was entertaining an audience.

But … that’s what we’re doing? Or is it?

Yes and no.

A writer is doing a magic trick. (One that was done by the caveman but beyond his ability to imagine, but not ours.) That magic trick is to make a connection with the minds of our audience. Doesn’t sound too hard till you realize just how incredible that is.

~With the setting sun hot on his back, the old Japanese fisherman rowed his small, blue boat for home, and let the sound of his oars sing him to a mindless daydream of naked women, and octopi.~

So, what did I just do there?

Well, I used the word daydream to help hint at a famous painting. “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife,” I told you the fisherman was rowing his boat east. That his home is east of his fishing grounds. I hinted at what he looks like. I touched on as many of the senses as I could in such few words. Heat/touch. Oars/sound. Blue/sight. And I gave some hints as to the character of the old man; he’s a bit of a perv. I did all of those and someone could probably find others. But, mainly, I tried to paint an image and to make a connection with my reader.

Now, did I intend for all of the above when I wrote that short passage? No (well, in this case, yes) I simply decided to write something. Then once the words were on the page, I looked back and found all the hidden things and put them in various columns. Described them in writer terms. Made it look like I intended it from the beginning.

Right?

Now what is all this and how does all this work?

You will sit down to write. You will put your story down, release it to the world, and then sit on the edge of your chair waiting for reviews. And then, when they come in, you get all these comments on things the reader saw in your story … that you never intended to put there. But there was no plan, no great multi-layered plot that you wracked your brain over for weeks to get perfect, right? You wrote a story but then the reader saw more than you wrote into it.

Am I right?

Wonderful isn’t it? When someone finds hidden things in your story and then gives you all the credit for putting them there. Yeah, but how about when they find bad things? Plot holes that take your carefully crafted story apart at the seams? Not so much fun then.

So … what to do?

Well, you can work yourself into a froth trying to add those normally unplanned details and then, simultaneously, double and triple check everything for plot holes. Or you can simply accept that you’re going to end up in a rubber room trying to do that and just allow yourself to write. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to not plot things out. Yes, you at least need to know where you’re going and what the characters are going to do. But, give them their head, let those unintentional things creep into your writing and then take full credit for them. Enjoy the praise. That writing actually has an important source and you earned it, I’ll explain in a moment.

But those damn plot holes? What to do about those? Well, they have a solution as well. Proofreaders. They are golden. I know a writer who writes a large number of gay male stories. He was doing a threesome story for a contest, two guy’s one girl, and the lady in the story somehow acquired her own penis about halfway through. His proofreader caught it before it got submitted.

I promise I’ve had my share of reader call me on mistakes or things they think are mistakes. The real mistakes are frustrating, the non-mistakes often are more so. See those mean I didn’t explain something very well. That’s me failing as a storyteller.

It’s really a crapshoot.

But then writing often is that very thing. Hit or miss. Stories you think are wonderful never get the first review, and that thing you tossed out (as filler in a multi-story collection or throw away to a free-to-post site) will be the one that is loved. Praised. For all its hidden complexities and multiple subplots.

So, have a wonderful time accepting praise for things that are pure luck … wait a minute are they just lucky? Nope. Those hidden things that worked their way into your story come from your own reading. The more trivia you fill your mind with, the more often it will happen. Your mind fills in the blanks with things you know but don’t always remember till it’s put before you and you look at it, in the review. Subconscious writing.

Roll the dice, let the wonderful things happen.

Go write words.

MST

Photo by João Silas on Unsplash

Love, sex, marriage, and … desserts?

Continuing with the theme of love and marriage. We tend to stress over life far too much. Life is simple. It’s about pleasure and avoiding pain (unless the pain is part of your pleasure, but that’s another conversation). Now a couple of the more pleasurable things are sex…and dessert.

And they are in fact very similar.

As I said to someone just a bit ago, sex is the whipped cream on the top of the pie of friendship. There are many types of pie and many types of friends. But in almost every case they are improved with a large dollop of whipped cream … the pie not the friends.

Hey, up to you. To each their own.

Now there are certainly exceptions but you generally start out as friends with someone, then move to a sexual relationship. You put the whipped cream on the pie and made it all better, completed the dessert as it was.

Following me so far? Of course, you are.

Okay, carrying this analogy forwards (kicking and screaming if need be) that would make marriage deciding to always eat the same dessert, whipped cream and all…for the rest of your life. Forsaking all other types of pie, and envy not thy neighbor’s dessert. Given that context, it almost sounds silly but there are people that do that.

Eat the same dessert.

So..that would make divorce reaching the point that you just can not, ever, forever and ever, take another damn bite. Maybe you ate too much too quickly and got sick off of it. That happens and can turn you off a type of anything for a long time. (throw up pork skins and Dr.Pepper you’ll understand.)

Or, it can happen that you started eating that particular dessert when you were too young and didn’t realize that there was a much larger selection out there to try. Now there are two things that I think are the cause of the majority of divorces. One, you tried another dessert. Maybe you went behind the first dessert’s crust … or it could just be that you discovered that your taste in desserts changed as you got older.

Of course, it’s entirely possible you ran out of whipped cream. (like I said, kicking and screaming. Now, off we go again)

Okay, to be honest, some people will, after years of eating the same thing, get tired of the same old slice and dollop. Well, there are options.

A lot of people go online and look at other types of pie but never try to eat them. Some go to sites where they don’t even have the pie in crusts.

Savages!

Other’s try to change up what they already have. Like adding sprinkles on top of the whipped cream, or maybe chocolate sauce. (Y’all are erotica writer you can figure that one out)

Some people just end up with two slices of pie … lucky fuckers.

Then there is swinging,

Swinging is, of course, handing your favorite pie and whipped cream to someone else and saying “Here try this, while I eat what you’re used to having.”

Well, what about just sex?

Sex without “any” love is like sitting down with a spoon and just eating whipped cream. (don’t knock it, Cool Whip and a spoon, when it’s frozen is awesome… plain, but awesome)

And a slut is someone (male or female) who is hanging out at the dessert bar at the buffet all damn night! Fuckers! They always get the pies fresh out the oven…

sorry, not going there.

Thing is, whatever type of pie you decide on apple, lemon, pumpkin, pecan or even if your one of those people that like mincemeat … there will come a time when that pie is your comfort food. It’s what makes your day’s effort complete and our life worthwhile, knowing we have some at home waiting for us.

Whipped cream or not.

Thank you.

MST

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Writing stroke stories – or “H​ow to seduce a reluctant Muse”

 

There is in every one of us the seeds of the most epic Erotica story ever written. Those seeds lay dormant waiting for that right combination of mental, emotional, hormonal (?) chemical and magical circumstances to become aroused. From that mixture can, and if you nurture it will come stories to make your readers remember your words forever. We have in us the possibility of writing the stories that future generations will have to do book reports on.

Now isn’t that a thought?

Why not an erotica Ernest Hemmingway, or an erotica Edgar Allan Poe? Who knows maybe in someone is an erotica, William Shakespeare … it’s certainly possible. Far stranger things have happened in literary history after all.

But to achieve that you have to do one thing. You have to write. You. Have. To. Write.

Sorry, but there is no other way for it to happen. Sigh, I can hear the excuses … sorry, reasons why you say you can’t always write but the one that makes me shake my head every time I hear it is “I can’t find my Muse today.”

Did you leave her in your other pants? Where’s your cell phone, you might have left your Muse where you left it? Or maybe you left her out in the car? If you did that you had better have left the AC running for her? Hot, sweaty Muse, eww.

We are writers, putting words on the page is our stock and trade and waiting for your Muse to show up is a way to be both broke and forgotten. I know it’s not always easy to sit down, look at that blankness before you and pour out a masterpiece of literary craftsmanship … but damn it, you don’t always have to try and write the “Lay” of Gilgamesh.

This is where the “stroke” type story comes in. Most are little more than a page or two long. They are really more of a scene than a story, but for all of that they can be very enjoyable (snort) works of the craft. Yes, I laughed. Not at the story style but at the premise that people only read “stroke” stories to masturbate. Well, you know what, that’s actually one hell of a compliment to you as an erotica writer. That in so few a number of words you managed to turn your reader on enough to have them get hard or wet. To set sexual thoughts to flowering in their mind so much they had to seek physical relief?

Bravo!

And yet, and yet for having managed that level of emotion that quickly these “stroke” stories are dismissed as poor writing. Well, some are poor writing. But they don’t have to be. What they can, in fact, be is bait in seducing your “Muse” to show up. Having trouble writing at the moment? Can’t get into your epic story that you’ve been working on? Creative juices are just not flowing? Okay … whip out a blank page and see if you can fire out a two thousand word “stroke” story about two people sharing a cab ride to the airport.

It’s raining; two people rush to the same cab and get in other either side. In perfect harmony, they tell the driver “The airport.” Well … since they are both going to the same place they agree to split the fair with a nice tip from both for the driver. He could care less so long as he gets paid. Both people are a little wet, their clothes are clinging, the backseat of the cab is smaller than when the old “Checker” style cabs once ran after all. They make small talk and then grow quiet. But their eyes don’t stop taking in each other’s charms, so damply displayed. Maybe an accidental touch? A bit of shyness as one is “caught” looking at the other. Then a decision to have some fun arrived at by both with a shared smile.

And Walla, you have a steamy as hell sex-in the back of a cab crossing mid-town to get to the airport scene between two characters you had to invest nothing more in than to make up a name, and possibly not even that much. Yeah, sure it won’t be the best thing you’ve ever written, so what. Remember the alternative was you were not going to write anything at all because you couldn’t find your Muse …I still think she’s probably in your other pants, check the laundry room.

You will spend maybe an hour cranking out what they used to call a “Potboiler” bit of erotica that would have otherwise never been written. When you’re finished with it, leave it be, edit it later, stuff it in a file somewhere with a dozen others just like it, whatever. Doesn’t matter. You wrote. Something you didn’t think you could do that day, you managed. Still can’t get going on that big story, that’s fine, write out another one. I promise you, the more of these you do … the more easily it gets to do one, and then the more easily you will slip into “writer mode” on that big story …

…when you find your muse. Oh, you found her? See, I told you she was in your pants. Where else would an erotica writer’s muse be?

Photo by Lucas Filipe on Unsplash