Monday, 1 August 2011

Nosce te ipsum

If I ever get a tattoo, I think it might be this one.

“Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.” ~ Sun Tzu

This past week I've written thousands and thousands of words. None of them have been fiction. Not all of them have been on my own page either – they have been through twitter, in comments on blogs, via MSN and text messages. I've spoken to a lot of people and written about that too.

There have been many, many words about editing (and lack thereof) and if and how that affects quality of content. I have considered where inspiration comes from – how do you write realistic erotica straight from fantasy? How do you inject fantasy into real events to make them fiction? How do you write a first draft without getting stuck? How do you do anything without getting writers block somewhere?

I have thought about the background of various prolific authors and the demographic to which they appeal. I have wondered why these authors are doing so well when I don't think their content is particularly good and I haven't enjoyed it much. By extension I have considered which demographic I am a part of, since it isn't theirs. I have begun to think about how to differentiate between “erotica” and “vapid romances with explicit sex”. I've pondered how one would set up a classification system for different themes in erotica in order to find the stuff that I'm going to enjoy, as my pot luck approach is not serving me well.

I've discussed erotica as a genre and its place in the wider world of fiction. I've thought about how it is presented to outsiders and considered that in order to be taken seriously, something has to give. I have wondered how to give erotica as a genre the stamp of professionalism which will make it comparable to other genres of writing, but which many erotica publishers don't appear to consider important.

Moving that discussion along, I've looked at self-publishing. If you can't trust a publishing house, how and why do you publish yourself? I have worried about how I am going to make a name for myself as writer when there is so much shit out there putting people off trying indie authors. Should I be concerned about them? Is there something that I can do to change the status quo?

There are so, so many opinions and suggestions about all these subjects. I have considered how to express my own opinion without burning bridges with the writers that I should be impressing in order to market my own work. Can you be really, truly honest without pissing people off? What if you're scaring off people that would read your published work if you weren't criticising other authors they really enjoyed? I have been advised to be completely honest rather than dumbing down my opinion. I have been thanked for my honesty but then removed a tweet in which I criticised somebody's work because I was concerned I'd upset the author. I've stopped myself saying a whole number of things that I feel very strongly about but which I feel aren't beneficial to express.

To return to the quote at the beginning of this post, I realise that writing is not really an enemy. I do, however think that in order to succeed at anything, it is vital to know what you are up against. I'm sorry if I haven't come across coherently as I would like. I've tried to condense a whole lot of thoughts into a much shorter space. I have barely scratched the surface of this art but I already feel I've learned a lot. I'm beginning to understand myself not only as a writer but also as a reader. (Don't ignore readers – without readers there would be no writers.) Most importantly though, I think I'm beginning to understand my place in this industry of writing. I have a plan, of sorts.

I also have a whole lot of thoughts and opinions, and you can bet your ass I'm going to share them with you. And I'd really love you to share your thoughts and opinions with me. We are, after all, all in this together, are we not?


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