Meant to post this earlier today, but it’s been one of those days, by which I mean crazy busy. In any event, a quick PerNoFiMo update. Last night I passed the 20K word mark on Whip It, which means at just a little over halfway through the month, I’ve already met my minimum goal. Now to see how much more I can write before November is out. If I can turn out 1500 words a night, every night, until the end of the month, I could hit 40K words. But I’d have to write at least 1500 words every night, and there in lies the challenge.
We’ll see what happens. For now, I’m 20K words farther into this novel than I was two weeks ago, and that’s an accomplishment as far as I’m concerned.
Now onto today’s discussion topic. While reading through the Erotica Readers & Writers Association blog, I came across this post by M. Christian. The article is about the hazards of being an erotica writer and the need to protect oneself from the slings and arrows of the righteous, the intolerant, the uptight and the inhibited. Among other things, M. Christian urges the need for erotica writers to hide what they do. I can understand why he offers this advice. For erotica writers, the threats of being fired, stalked, harassed, arrested, of losing one’s home or even one’s children are all very real.
Here’s my problem with this. You can’t ever hide completely, not if you want to write. You can’t hide and get your stories published. You can’t hide and promote your work online. You can’t hide and go to signings or conventions. You can’t hide and write. Because once you write those words, those awful filthy words about the most forbidden subject of sex, you’ve already revealed who and what you are. You have made your mark in the erotica genre. You have left evidence for others to see. Short of deleting the file and wiping the hard drive (or for you low-tech writers, burning the notebook and throwing away the pen), you can’t get rid of that evidence. You did the deed. You dared to write the porn, the erotica, the smut, the whatever-the-hell-you-want-to-call-this-genre. You wrote it, and it’s yours. Oh, you can use a pen name, you can promote only online, and you can demur when people ask what you write about, but still. If you write sexually explicit material, then you have already put yourself at risk for being fired, harassed, stalked, etc. Computers can be searched. Pen names can be revealed. You yourself might trip up and let slip some detail that would allow people to connect your story with your name. Even if you just write one erotica story, one steamy sexy scene, and hide it away in a dresser drawer, it’s still there for someone to find and you’re still going to be at risk. It’s like trying to take a dip in the pool without getting wet. Even if all you do is just put your little toe in the water, you can’t not get wet.
For my part, I have never hidden what it is I do. I have never used a pen name. And somehow I have never suffered any of these horror stories that I’ve heard about from other writers. Maybe it’s because I’m not in as vulnerable a position as others are. I’m a stay-at-home mom; I can’t get fired from that job! And I’m in a good, stable marriage. My husband knew from the start what I was writing. So did my parents. To this day, my mother introduces me as ‘her daughter who writes porn.’ My husband’s family all know what I write. My friends know. Heck, even our pediatrician and my daughters’ teachers know. I have never made a secret of this. And yet somehow, I’m doing okay. Maybe I’ve just been lucky. Maybe my own personal horror story of stalkings and obscenity charges and court cases are just around the corner waiting to happen. Who knows?
What I do know is that anyone who tells me to hide the fact that I am an erotica writer might as well just tell me to never write erotica in the first place. The consequences are dire, so don’t even dare it. But telling me to not write erotica would be like telling the late Charlton Heston to not let anybody know he liked guns. To paraphrase the man himself, I will only stop writing porn when you can pry my keyboard from my cold, dead hands. Until then, risks be damned. I’m writing.