I Wanna Be a Writer
I have always had writers blood, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized it was stronger than I believed. You may remember in a previous post I shared that I suddenly had a recollection that I made a concerted effort to be a writer when I was in my 20’s. You may wonder how I could forget such a thing, but this is common for me. There are huge chunks of my memory that are gone. Poof! While some have come back, my pdoc believes some of my memories are likely lost forever.
One difference, between now and then, is that in my 20’s I planned to write the Great American Novel. I had no doubt that my novels would rank up there with the works of Hemmingway, Steinbeck and Salinger. I didn’t have a desire for fame and fortune. I just believed I was that good. These days my desires are different. I want to have fun writing and to do that means I write what I like to read. The genre I like most is mystery. Not police procedurals, not suspense and not little old ladies concluding that the murderer was Colonel Mustard in the drawing room with a candlestick. I love good old fashioned P.I. stories. Give me Sam Spade over Jessica Fletcher any day.
Money Makes the World Go ‘Round
The impetus for the novel I’m writing was money. I know that’s a terrible reason to become a writer, but I want to become a productive member of society again and earn some bucks. I must say that I don’t worry much that I’m receiving government aid. Hell, I never complained about the money being taken out of my paychecks and I feel it was people like me, those unable to work, who the money was taken for. What I don’t like is that my money from disability puts me below the poverty level and I don’t like not being a productive member society – basically having a job. Since both my pdoc and my therapist don’t believe I’m able to work a 9 to 5, and I guess I agree, then maybe I can be successful working from home. My pdoc and therapist agree, with great enthusiasm, that writing the novel is excellent for me.
A friend and I were discussing what I could do to work from home when she brought up erotica. She mentioned a friend who wrote erotica and was making a full-time living from it. I thought about it and was concerned about pumping out poorly written novels that happened to have a lot of sex. I talked myself through it and realized that I was making an assumption that erotic novels are all poorly written. In addition, even if they are poorly written, what rule insists that mine would have to be. What about a well written, good story about a lot of sex? That is where I began.
Why Not Erotica
My first step was to write an outline. I came up with a plot and filled in the cast. Once that was done, I started writing a very rough draft and quickly ran into a problem – I fell in love with my cast. I loved them enough that I decided I don’t want to write erotica. They deserved better than that. (I guess I’m still prejudiced) I decided to skip the erotica, and just write a damn good mystery. Sure, there are sex scenes, but to me there is a big difference between an erotic novel and a novel with erotic scenes.
When I meet with other writers, I’m frequently asked who my target audience is. My answer has always been the same. I tell them that I’d like to believe that anyone would enjoy my book, but overall my target is primarily gay men. When I give this question serious consideration, I’m not so sure the first part is accurate. Is there really a straight, middle aged man in Boise, Idaho, who has a wife and two daughters, yet buys mystery novels with primary gay characters who do have some well described sex scenes? Maybe, but not likely. Some, but not many.
So, What the Hell am I Writing?
One of my favorite M/M (male/male) authors is Josh Lanyon. In her (yes, her) excellent book, “Man, Oh Man: Writing Quality M/M Fiction,” she wrote,
I prefer to write for character first, story second, and sex a distant third.
When I read that I exclaimed, “That’s it! That’s exactly what I want to write.” In other words, I am not writing an erotic mystery novel. I am writing a mystery novel that has erotic content. Big difference.
My desire to complete this novel has multiplied ten-fold. I’ve done my research, and I’ve studied other novels, but for now I know the path I’m taking. I’m now writing the best damn mystery novel I can, that happens to have a primarily gay male cast who like to have sex. Most importantly, I’m having a helluva lot of fun in the process and I believe that’s the most important part. If it wasn’t fun, what would be the point to continue?
Good characters? Plot? Genre? What’s the first thing that you look for when choosing a novel?