Like Fine Wine
BrightEyedDyer’s request made me reflective about what’s changed in my creative processes over the last few years. When I first started trying to sell stories, creativity was a much different thing for me than it is today, and I struggled for a while trying to understand the difference between my creative process then as an unpublished writer and now as a published one.
Some elements are the same. A good story will still come, grab me in a hard embrace, and have its wicked way with me. A good example of this is “Pet Door”, the lesbian vampire story that will be in the upcoming anthology Girls Who Bite. That dark little fable took about two days from concept to final draft and I was in a hot sweat the whole time. But the experience of writing that story was different from what it would have been four years ago.
I still have moments – whole weeks even – when verbal productivity just doesn’t happen. Since I started writing, my day job has become considerably more demanding and I’ve undertaken other challenges that seriously deplete my time and energy, so I don’t get nearly as much writing done as I would like. Ideas are still common (you should see my idea folder), but I lack the time and energy to pursue them all, so my muse has become a picky little eater.
True inspiration, the little inner voice that begins to narrate a story that I cannot resist telling is still my ultimate mistress, but she has come into her own, become the dominatrix whose spiked heels I kiss in gratitude. As an exercise in self-disclipline, I spent a year writing an erotic horror serial for my blog, Woman of His Dreams , and I learned a lot about fast plotting and forcing a story into new channels by writing this twisted erotic tale one weekly chapter at a time. Meeting my self-imposed deadline kept me writing many weeks when I would not have written otherwise. I’m going back now and trying to whip the story into better shape, but I’m proud of myself for having stayed with it and finished it in a year!
What does this all add up to? I think my creative side is more practical now – for better or worse. Even a story like “Pet Door” is largely shaped by the market I am writing for. Ever since I started paying attention to calls for submissions’ – not long after I published my novel Woman of the Mountain – I’ve become better at writing to a particular goal and far more confident that, if I hit the mark, my story will sell. God knows, in the erotica field as well as the other genres I’ve dabbled in, no one really writes for the money. Only a tiny handful of writers make enough to live on, but that won’t stop me. I do it for the thrill of publication, for the chance to turn that spark into something that someone else will appreciate enough to comment on, or hopefully to buy.
My muse is mercenary, but not for gold. Writing well, pleasing myself when I turn a phrase or make a character breathe, is still the biggest kick I know. Writing doesn’t put bread on the table, but it is the finest wine I have ever tasted.