Monday, 25 July 2011

On Editing (Or Not)

As a disclaimer: I don't really want to offend or upset anyone with this blog, but given the perhaps sensitive nature of the content, I guess it might be taken as a personal dig at various people. It's really not. Also, I appreciate I’m setting myself up to be a hypocrite. I’m not perfect and neither is anyone else and that's not the end of the world. I’m mainly asking for a bit more vigilance on this matter.

I’ve just sat down to write a review of Alice by Selena Kitt, and you know what? I can only think about one thing. A characters name is misspelled twice on page one. This was at first confusing, and then so annoying I nearly stopped reading the story there and then. How could someone have published something with such an obvious mistake so early on? I had however paid for it, and it seemed a waste of my money to stop reading it, so I persevered. My expectations of the rest of the story has bottomed out. I thought “if she can't spend the time making sure her characters names are spelled right, why should I assume she expended any effort making sure the story is any good, or the grammar is understandable?”

See, you laughed at that, didn't you?

In fairness to Ms Kitt, Alice is an excellent story once I got beyond that, and I promise not to overdo this gripe again in my review. But the point stands that rather than going on and on about great the story is, I’m sat here ranting about the spelling. Is that really what you want your work to be remembered for?

I’ve come across a lot of poor editing in recent months, and it's really starting to get to me. Before I read erotica I think perhaps I took editing for granted. You'd come across the odd misspelled word in a book and it'd be funny. But since I began to read erotica, I routinely come across sentences that don't make sense, words spelled incorrectly, and grammar in all the wrong places.

Admittedly, most of the erotica that I read is free, and the quality varies wildly, which is what I expect of self-published fiction and is probably one of the reasons why self publishing is prone to bad press. Lately though, I’ve been buying more erotica from seemingly reputable publishing houses and I’m astounded to find that the issues persist there. It's making it very difficult to know what is and isn't worth buying. Slowly but surely, I am losing my faith in published erotica as a genre worth taking seriously. And that makes me very sad, because I like to think I’m good at what I do and I wouldn't want someone else to dismiss my work off-hand because they'd had bad experiences with other pieces of fiction.

Will somebody please think of the children?!

My most serious issue is with authors that charge for their work because they truly have no excuse. I think it's demeaning to your readers to expect them to pay for mistakes that you could easily have fixed. However, to authors that put their work out for free I say: don't do yourself down by failing to edit properly. Not charging for your work is a poor reason to put out any old rubbish. I recently read a story with a friend of mine which would have been average if it had been edited for grammar and misspellings, but which was truly dismal because the incorrect punctuation made a number of sentences almost unintelligible. Thankfully, we laughed our asses of so it wasn't a wasted time, but I feel for the author as I seriously doubt it was her intention that we mock her story rather than enjoy it. I read a free story by another author which was quite good for content but poor on grammar and I’ve been seriously put off looking at the work they have for sale because I have no reason to expect it's any different.

Perhaps this is a bee in my bonnet because I am a writer and spending my time nit picking my own grammar and spelling is what I'd ultimately like to be paid to do. If, however, this is as widespread an issue as it seems to be, then people need to be standing up and complaining about it until things begin to change. Lets not allow the poor editing of some to ruin the reputation of everyone out there that is writing genuinely fantastic erotica.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

My Very First Submission


I have done it. I have submitted my first piece.

It has been an impressive journey to here already. It began in November when I wrote Need, and stepped up a notch in January when I began this blog. The Erotic Meet in London in May further spurred me on to believe in myself and to try and put my stuff out there. I thought I'd get here quicker, honestly, but I'm still a beginner so I'm trying to be patient with myself.

I worried and worried over this piece. I love it, don't get me wrong, but editing and re-drafting and reading it to other people and hearing back that I wrote naval when I meant navel... Well. It has been quite an experience! But the first of many, I hope. This is only the beginning, obviously. I won't know for a while yet if the piece has been accepted, and even if I'm lucky then the publishing is still a way off too, but it has begun.

*pats self on back* Well done, me. :) And thank you all for being here for me and encouraging me. And helping me with this piece and telling me it doesn't suck.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Things I've Learned From Being a Lousy Full Time Writer

Some of you will know that I was made redundant at the end of May, and that I'm going back to university in October. This has left me with a big time gap, and rather than try to get another job, I decided that I wanted to spend the time writing. Writing full time is one of my pipe dreams, and I was looking forward to devoting some time to honing my craft and (hopefully) making a little money.

I was all fired up and excited about getting to spend more time writing, and yet the amount of writing I'm doing doesn't seem to be much greater than it was when I had a full time job. I've achieved some things I'm very proud of, but I'm disappointed that I haven't managed more. I have learned some stuff though, and I thought I'd put down a few of the things I've picked up. (Mainly to remind myself, actually.) Here they are, in no particular order. (I'd like to point out that some of these are not original. I have plagiarised from things I've read, but in a roundabout fashion rather than a quoting word for word. Sorry I can't remember who half of them are.)

Why does anyone do this?

1. Set Targets

I thought about setting myself targets - get a book finished, write 10 short stories, write at least 5000 words a week, that kind of thing. I then didn't set targets. Mistake. My biggest achievement thus far is finishing my first novel, which I managed by setting myself the target of finishing it in June. If I had set more goals, I would have managed more before then.

2. Turn Off Twitter

I can waste hours on social networking, and MSN, and texting, and petting this kitten. In fact, I very rarely achieve anything in a reasonable length of time if I don't turn it all off and make myself ignore all those distractions.

3. Have a Plan

Still learning this one - I'm reading Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris, which I wholeheartedly recommend. It's about making your writing life easier by planning and editing in a controlled fashion. In the last two days I've written 6000 words - basically more than I've managed since last November - because I'm working to a plan of how the story is going to go. I wouldn't say it's actually easy, but it's certainly much easier than anything else I've written for a while.

4. Find Encouraging Friends

Finishing my first novel has been an epic battle. I've been writing for years and yet until last month, I'd never finished a novel. I'm convinced the key to my success is a good friend of mine who poked me every Thursday, week after week, and said "finish your novel." If I ever get it published, I'm dedicating it to him. People who make you write when you don't want to and tell you that you're awesome when you're convinced you suck are a Godsend.

5. Chill Out

Almost as much as under-thinking stuff, I tend to over-think things. I get so wound up in a scene that I will swear at it for hours and not put words down. They just stick in my head and won't go to my fingers. Stop for a bit. Make some tea. Go for a walk. When I've untied all the knots in my head it's much easier to go back and finish something.

6. Get On With It

I don't care that it's hard. Just finish the damn thing, will you? It won't write itself if you sit and complain. Sometimes I just have to sit and slog through something. I hate every word and every minute, but the writing gets done. And it's not usually all that bad, either.

7. Choose Your Battles

Initially I found that I had so many ideas that I couldn't focus on one to write it. I had loads I could think of, but I wasn't achieving anything. Now I have a board on my wall. It has notes on all the things I want to do. I put one or two in the WIP column and try and forget about the rest.

8. Always Carry a Pen

The number of times I've been struck by inspiration at the gym and not been able to write it down and then I've forgotten it. Damn, that's frustrating. Now I have a pad and a pen. I make notes everywhere. They're very useful.

9. Read About Writing

Not more than you write, obviously, but reading about editing and how to structure my time and how to improve my output is already making me a much more effective writer. I've got a long way to go before I'm turning a profit, but I can see the standard of my work has gone up, even in a few months.

10. Try Anything Once

Ah, it always comes down to this. My little mantra for life serves me so well on so many levels... As much I hate the idea of properly writing a plan, or writing in 25 minute stints and taking a break, I've found they really help. I thought being a writer was this fantastic, whimsical thing where I get to do what I like, and it's not. It's bloody hard work. And I'm still not working nearly as hard as I need/want to be. But everything I try makes me a better writer. And it's not all completely unenjoyable. As in everything in life, there are bits I enjoy, and bits I don't. I bet I've barely even started. I've made positive steps though, and when I go back into full time work in October, I know that these things I've learned now will help to output more and better quality writing than I was before. :)

Gosh, this is a long post. Well done if you made it this far. Have a small, slightly green looking monkey. I'm sure he's very friendly. :)

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

An Odd Pair, Part 2

Continued from Part 1.


“Fuck me?” I ask, knowing that you will say no, and that you will satisfy me and yet still leave me wanting. Your every move seems calculated to make me want you more, to make me unable to forget you when we are apart. I sigh as you grin and shake your head, renewing your assault on my throbbing clit. I reach down and undo the buttons on your trousers, wondering if I can somehow convince you otherwise. With my hands around your hard shaft I am unmade, incoherent with desire, and any thoughts of talk dissolve as you work my cunt with deft fingers, dipping in and out of my hole until I want to scream with the need to feel you inside me.

“Please,” I breathe hoarsely, and your fingers probe deeper, sending my over-worked imagination into paroxysms of lust. It is all I can do not to draw your naked cock inside me but I know that you will withdraw and I could not face feeling you inside me and then not getting to experience your climax. No, I realise, I will have to let you have your wicked way with me and then I will come back, again and again until you relent. Therein lies the draw, and the reason why you have such a profound effect on my desire.

You are biting your tongue and grinning wickedly, and I resist the urge to ask you if you find this funny, but my legs are buckling beneath me as I feel my orgasm beginning to build, a heat which spreads through my stomach and my thighs as if to consume me from the inside out. I shift my ass onto the counter behind me so that I can wrap my legs around you, and you pull me roughly towards you, kissing me again and again until I don't think I can breathe and I’m not sure I need to. I am high, my head light and swimming, my brain unable to think of anything more than the fire trying to break loose in my sex.

I am still holding your cock and you rock forward and backwards so that I can feel your hardness, each ripple and throb pulsing through your length transmitted to my fingers as if magnified a hundred times. You are breathing heavily, and I am pleased that I have at last forced your reaction.

“Please fuck me,” I whisper again, although I do not expect an answer.

“Perhaps,” you say quietly, “if you're a good girl.”

The heat with which you drip the words rolls over my skin and I moan, knowing that I cannot hold off coming much longer. You are massaging quicker and quicker circles over my button, but the fingers inside me are still slow and lazy, taking time to explore and stroke each nerve ending of my sodden cunt until I want to beg you to stop because the pleasure is too much, and I don't know how much more I can take.

“Are you a good girl?” you ask quietly, and that tips me over the edge, and I scream as my whole body jerks violently in ecstasy, wave after to wave of release flooding over and through me, all the way to my fingers and my toes. Sounds escape my lips, sounds of delight and pride and surprise. My hands around your cock fall slack and you pull me closer into you, massaging my back with one hand as the other rests on my throbbing clit. I am almost choking as my heartbeat pounds in my chest. My skin is tingling and my brain has gone numb. Sensory overload, I decide.

When my breathing has almost returned to normal, you wrap your hand around mine, your cock still between my fingers, and gently rub up and down. You are still hard, and I like it. My insatiable lust for you begins to whisper quiet, dirty thoughts to me, even as my body begs for mercy.

“I'd say you've been a very good girl,” you whisper with a sly smile.


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