Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Is it All Worth It?

“My husband tells me I write porn and asks what example am I setting for my kids…”

“You must not be selling well because your checks are so low.”

I’m not saying who these quotes come from. They’re paraphrased anyway. Who says these things? These are things erotica and/or romance writers hear from their loved ones; family and friends whether it be spouses, siblings or bff’s.

Pardon me but loved ones means someone who's supposed to love you and support you in all your endeavors especially if it hurts no one. You’ve seen parents and spouses stick by their family members when they did do something horrible like commit murder or even when they’ve committed adultery but wow, you write erotica or smut hetero or gay and you’re setting a bad example. You’re SCUM!


I have to wonder about the family of writers like Stephen King. No doubt, the man is a horror master and has built a fanbase that will carry on way after he’s gone. Stories about chopping people up and demonic beings who murder for fun and yet he’s lauded by millions. However, as erotica or romance writers we are the scum of the earth. Oh no, you can’t possibly write about something like falling in love and having sex! No way. You’re not setting a good example for the children! You’re not a real writer, etc, etc. HATERS!

Regardless of whether you write straight, m/m, bdsm, or whatever, your story’s base is still romance. You write about two people connecting on some level which is what people do every day but for whatever reason, you as the erotica romance writer cannot show your face anywhere. You can’t hold down a job and let people know what you write. Your neighbors treat you like a leper so you have to keep a penname. When your kids ask you, you tell them I write romance and if they tell their friends, they are probably told your mom writes smut or porn.

Oh but it’s okay if you write about murdering people, yeah that’s cool. *laughs*

I keep using Stephen King or horror writers not because I don’t like what he does in fact I respect him as an artist. I’m not a huge fan of his books but I’ve read a couple and seen the movies. However, the reason I use him is because I don’t see a huge uproar over what he's been doing for decades but we as romance writers still draw the most disrespect.

I’m sure there are people who don’t like what he writes. I don’t know his history, maybe he has been shunned by his peers but I can only comment on what I see in the genre I write in. My fellow writers doubting themselves and asking the above question almost to the point of tears. Is it worth it?

Excuse my French but HELL YES!

First and foremost, you as a writer are an artist, a creator, someone that writes stories from the heart. Regardless of what genre or style, what level of sex, etc, you’re still someone writing a story about 2 or more people doing something God gave us the will to do. Love and connect. You might not believe in God which is fine, still you as a human have been given that ability so you write about it. Is there something wrong with this? No. Let’s move on.

Second, the example you’re setting for your kids. Hmm, well I don’t know, you’re doing something that you love doing. Writing. You write for hours, after they are fed and asleep in their beds. You do it tirelessly along with promoting your books, putting your pen name out there to get recognized. With it, comes some good reviews some bad and eventually, someone likes your work, buys it, and you make some money that keeps them clothed and fed. What does that teach them? Determination and the will to succeed. When you shrug off a bad review, it shows them you won’t let anyone stop you from doing what you love. The 5.00 royalty check that might buy a dozen of eggs and a loaf of bread will help along the way and if you keep doing it despite how big or small it might be, it shows that you’re willing to work hard regardless of the money you make from it. All writers have books that don’t sell, some have books that sell thousands. It’s a rollercoaster business and we do it because we love it. I don’t know any better life lessons than that.

Third, the money. I’ve touched on that in the second part but has anyone heard the saying, starving artist? Regardless if you’re a painter, a writer, a sculptor, photographer, movie maker, actor, you are an artist and the work you do takes time to make money. Yes, it is a business and yes we would like to sell a million copies of every book but that’s just unrealistic. Along with the determination and that will to succeed, you have to have luck and patience. I can tell you if you start to write or create just with the sole purpose of selling then in my opinion, you're in it for the wrong reasons. You must love what you do first! You might love that book but only 40 people have bought it.  It hasn’t caught on but soon, you’ll write that book that will sell a thousand or more copies. This takes time and as I said, for some it might not take as long but for others a little longer. This is a huge market, erotica and or romance and the numbers of writers and publishers as well as the indies grows by leaps and bounds every day. Yes, we all want that reader to love us and the good thing about this business is we can all share the same “customers.” Do it for the love first, not the money.

As artists, we all have our ups and downs. I know I’ve had several times where I doubted myself or the story I wrote but I keep at it. Why? Because I love it.

Let me share my own experience with you since it’s the only one I can comment on. I have a husband, 2 kids. One 13, one going on 4. My husband is very supportive of what I do and has stated he’s happy that I’m doing what I love. At the same time, he is also somewhat of a homophobe. He doesn’t want to admit that he isn’t tolerant as he should be. (See my article on Its Raining Men.) Still, as I stated, he has read some of my work, has talked my ideas over with me and gave me a hug and kiss when I have a small bit of success. Really, I’m glad I have at least that from him. Notice I didn’t mention mom or sibling. They know what I write. Mom doesn’t get it or like it. My brother is happy that I’m doing something I love but doesn’t understand the gay angle. Ah well.

My son has made the statement that I write and look at gay porn. Quickly, I pulled him to the side and told him I write romance and the stories about two people falling in love whether gay or straight isn’t porn. Big difference. Yeah I have some porn on my computer and the kid has seen a couple of pictures on accident. Did I freak? Nope. I said, I’m an adult, you’re the kid. Do I know this kid has seen some stuff most likely when he’s not under my watchful eye? Yes. We can’t shelter our kids from everything. I’ve even told my kid and his teachers that I’m a writer and I expect him to explain everything fully in his papers as I do. To give a complete picture. When we take the time to explain, our kids can’t do anything but learn from our experience. They’ll eventually find out anyway.

My friends love what I do. All of them whether my Facebook friends, the peeps I have friended through fanfiction, (mostly Durannies) and my own friends here at home have all been the most supportive. My bff attended GayRomLit with me and she was one of the people who encouraged me to pick up the pen again in 2009. If I didn’t have the hubs support, I’d still do it because my friends have been there to show their love.

In this long rant/ramble, the point is we as authors love what we do. We can’t help what people think and if they shun us for it, then that’s their problem. It’s not a reason to stop writing! It’s not a valid reason to stop doing what you love if you really do love it.

Forget the naysayers! Write about 2 people falling in love and be proud of what you’ve written. Is it worth it? Yes it is because it’s in your heart to continue!

Author Sharita Lira: The Triad, otherwise known as the characters in the head of Sharita Lira are three separate muses that are the driving force behind her small amount of success. Misses Lira sees her own life as one that is very ordinary, so instead of presenting herself out to the world, she created three personalities that continue to haunt her all hours of the night to get several WIP’s done at the speed of light, and push her to the brink of sheer exhaustion, but she loves it and that’s the reason she hasn’t told them to get the hell out her head.

Michael Mandrake, BLMorticia, and Rawiya collectively have written over 30 stories published in e-book and or print through 7 different publishers. Right now as it stands, Mrs. Lira and the muses have 6 sole author books with much more to come in 2012 and beyond.

She is a happily married mother of two that writes m/m, m/f, ménage, paranormals, contemporaries, and for fun some fan fiction. She is a proud member of the Erotica Readers & Writers Association, as well as an advocate for rights of LGBT citizens, and a big fan of 80′s and heavy metal music. She’s also a contributor to the heavy metal ezine Fourteeng.net.

For more information, please visit http://www.thelitriad.com as well as her Facebook fanpage, The Literary Triad.

The Literary Triad - http://www.thelitriad.com/#!

Michael Mandrake – http://tabooindeed.blogspot.com


Stormie Kent said...

Great post. Sharing a kind word with a fellow writer might be all that keeps them going. ;-)

Tina Donahue said...

I hear your frustration, hon. Some people don't get what we do. However, erotic romance is VERY popular. There are plenty of authors making lots of money from it. We do it because we need to write and express ourselves. If someone doesn't like it, then they're certainly welcome to read something else.

Tim Smith said...

Beautiful post, Sharita! Also right on so many levels. Ever heard the saying "If they can't take a joke, f*** 'em?" Words to live by.

Here's an interesting stat: the erotic romance industry is a multi-million dollar a year business, yet...no one reads it! The only difference between Stephen King and the rest of us is, he's an automatic bestseller, no matter what he writes.

Oh, I did have one question about something you wrote - we get paid money for doing this??? I need to re-examine my contract.

BLMorticia said...

Thanks Stormie!

BLMorticia said...

I agree Tina, exactly. I thank you for the comment!

BLMorticia said...

LOL Tim, yes and Stephen gets respect, we don't. Thank you for the comment!

Karenna Colcroft said...

Excellent post, Sharita. I agree completely. I have to hide my romance behind a pen name because I live in a small town, and since I also write young adult fiction I don't want to risk blurring the two or risk other parents in my town finding out what I write.

My teenage daughters know what I write and know that some people would be very judgmental about it--including their father, who only knows about my young adult stuff. Fortunately, my current husband is very, very supportive and recently even read one of my M/M romances. (He says he skipped the sex parts and just paid attention to the werewolf parts.)

Fiona McGier said...

Hey girl, great post! I'm tired of people treating me like I've stepped in something nasty when I tell them I write romance. I usually leave out the "erotic" part, because then they can't change the subject quickly enough! In the USA we are still so prudish about sex, yet as you so accurately point out, anything involving gruesome murders, guns, violence on any level...we're there lining up for tickets! YIKES! I'm more worried about what THAT teachers my kids than I am that they know their natural sexual urges can be pleasurable!

And I use a pen name because I promised my late FIL that I wouldn't use "his" name since I write sex scenes. He thanked me. And as much as I miss him, I don't want to take the chance of him haunting me for breaking a promise!

jean hart stewart said...

Some of my friends appear shocked I'm now writing erotica. Too bad, it's fun and sells better than my other books. Great post.