Slave to the Muse
Some days I wish my muse had given me a different song.
Mine gave me gay erotica—the literary equivalent of that skulking weirdo in the raincoat outside the bookstore. No alternatives have ever been offered, either; she assures me this is all she's got for me.
My options are these: (a) ignore it and implode; (b) write it down only for myself and my two friends who also like it; or (c) accept my lot and rise to its occasion. The latter calls up the image of that skulking weirdo flinging open his raincoat in a crowded shopping mall.
And yet, that is the option I choose.
It would be so much easier to proceed down this lonesome road to publication if I wrote stories that fit neatly into any established mold. If only I wrote bodice-ripper romances or nightmarish tales of serial killers and zombies—or even a good old-fashioned mystical fantasy about dragons and princes. If only it were simple for agents, publishers and marketers to understand what I’m trying to do and say; that my approach is unique and won't tuck into a working model, but that it still has value. If only such individuality were respected in this neck of the creative woods.
Alas, it is not. At least not yet.
Erotica is an ancient art form, but each generation changes the parameters of what makes good, engaging, worthy product. Our forefathers and mothers (the Marquis de Sade, Pauline Réage, Anaïs Nin, Laura Reese and A. N. Roquelaure, to name only a few), were a fearless lot. However, their courage was often met by accusations of perversion and criminal activity.
(But, whoa, Nellie, did they sell some books.)
The readers are there—they’ve always been there. They want this product. The problem has been and continues to be that consumption of it could label them as the same type of perverts and criminals as the writers. God forbid anyone would admit to an interest in sexual activity, for crying out loud.
Fortunately, in our day we have the massive advantage of the worldwide web. We are able to safely locate our kindred without fear of being seen lurking in any of those unsavory neighborhoods. The internet allows us anonymity that, in turn, allows us freedom to explore these dark and wild woods with no judgmental eyes watching.
Not so fortunately, the publishing industry seems to be highly resistant to new formats and technology. They are trapped in their age-old traditional patterns to which writers and readers have both been enslaved for eons. They offer us only the one way to consume novels of any genre—the old way. The way whereby a new novel will take at least a full calendar year before it sees publication and the creator of the work will be pushed so far out of the process as to have no control over the end product.
Frustration with this archaic system brought on the fast grassroots rise of the Independent Publisher, and the booming business of Self-Publishing. As my novel series does not fit into any neatly defined pigeonhole, these are the waters into which I must wade. I will need to go forth without the help of learned representatives and guides, as there simply are none here in this thicket. Well, none that want to stray from the safe, traditional working model just yet.
Maybe I can hack down some of the thorn bushes that would draw the blood of others like me and make it easier for them to venture this way. If nothing else, I can leave them a basket of vittles and a penny for the ferryman. I'll look forward to meeting them when they come ashore and hear tales of their journeys. As the world of publishing morphs with every passing day, we makers of these racy stories must stay together and learn from each other.
This blog is where my adventure begins. Wish me luck, fellow travelers. I'll keep you posted.
September 29, 2014