I’ve been offline for several days. The reason for this is one I’m really quite chuffed about. I’ve been approached to write something for a website; for money! Yes, actual Sterling currency, that can be used in shops and stuff! There is one snag however… I’ve been asked to write erotica. This came as a surprise to me, since my work posted so far isn’t exactly what you would classify as scintillatingly titillating. However in a spirit of adventure, artistic curiosity and cash hungriness I accepted the offer.
This has led to one or two interesting mental developments. First off; how exactly does one go about writing erotica that doesn’t read as, not to put too fine a point on it, silly? Secondly; should I publish the work under my own by-line? I’ve struggled mightily with the first one for almost a week now, trying to write something that doesn’t make me fall about laughing when I read it aloud. It’s getting better with each re-write, however I’m not going to be an objective judge on that one and will only be able to rely on the editor for final arbitration on whether the story is hauntingly sexy or gut-bustingly silly.
Of more pressing interest to myself, was the question of whether or not to use my own by-line, or take the soft option and use a pseudonym. I was worried about being A.) Sneered at for writing in what is perceived as something of a ghetto so far as fiction is concerned, or B.) Potentially pigeon holed as a writer of erotic stories. My lack of a planet sized ego quickly dispelled the latter worry, about ten people are aware of my body of work, so I doubt I’m going to be pigeon holed into anything anytime soon. The first worry wasn’t so easy to think my way out of.
Eventually I decided to go with my own name, for a couple of reasons. First off, some very good advice from a friend of mine named Wendy, who told me “They’re your words, why be ashamed of them?”, which was excellent advice and something anyone who wants to write professionally should take to heart. The second reason, is that I want to write professionally; with all of the responsibilities that entails, not as an “artist”. If a plumber is offered work fixing a u-bend, the plumber doesn’t carefully consider what kind of u-bend he’s being asked to repair, then accept or decline based on whether or not it was the kind of u-bend he dreamed of repairing when he was a kid. He quotes his hourly rate, then fixes the damned u-bend, he has bills to pay. I figure why should writing be exempt from that kind of reasoning?
My main objective after writing something that I’m satisfied is correct within itself and fulfills it’s given purpose, is that any readers are pleased with the work. This goes double for work that I’ve been specifically asked to write for someone. Personal projects are just that, to please me personally. Work I’ve been commissioned for, even loosely or informally, is work for a specific audience. I want writing to be my trade, not just a way of blathering on at length to please myself and my few chosen readers. In short, I don’t want to be precious or poncy about it.
If I write something, my primary purpose is to entertain any potential readers, not to create art. If I happen to get bracketed as an artist, that’s wonderful and I’d be deeply flattered by the association; but I’d never set out to create art, that would make me at best pretentious and at worst a pontificating idiot.
N.B. Naturally, a commission piece won’t be published as a CC licensed work here, so it won’t be freely available on this site; however should the commissioner be OK with it, if the story is accepted I’ll link to the site where it’s published when it goes up.