I am my own worst critic. Whenever I write a story, or work on my novel, I cannot shut up that voice inside that tells me that I suck. That I have no business writing ficiton at all and that I should just quit. Which is one of the reasons why writing my novel is going SO slowly. I should just sit down and get it done, but my brain won’t stop telling me I am rubbish and might as well give up erotica.
This voice only becomes stronger when I read pieces of erotica written by others. I read this and think, I can never write like that. I am not nearly as good. This was especially the case when I joined in the Smut Marathon where I only lasted two rounds and which set me back enormously as far as my writing confidence is concerned. In hindsight, I should not have joined at all and I will not make that mistake again. The Smut Marathon started at the beginning of this year, and as I said, I only lasted two rounds, but it has taken me until now to undo the damage this experience has done to me. (I guess I am more mentally fragile than I thought.)
I have been written for at least 10 years now. I have participated in and won NaNoWriMo 5 years in a row and I have had one of my books professionally critiqued and have received very positive feedback on that. The only reason I haven’t proceeded with that book yet is because the changes I have to make are daunting. I have to change the setting from UK to Canada and I’m hung up on how much that needs to change the story.
Anyhow, I digress. Although I have been honing my writing craft for over 10 years now, I haven’t been writing erotica for quite as long, and it is as if suddenly my brain has decided that I now am rubbish at writing, just because I am trying my hand at a different genre. I convenienly forget that I have already written in different genres – crime, thriller, women’s lit and YA – but suddenly erotica is a step too far? Brains are weird – and also wrong.
I recently finished a short story, which I am very happy with. I am going to submit it and am, of course, hoping that it will be published. It will need a bit more tweaking, but I have struggled with this particular story for months and this week it just came together for me. And the reason I was finally able to sit down and write something I was happy with, is because I pulled myself out of the rut of self critique and embraced my writer’s voice.
Every good writer has their unique voice. Their own particular way of telling a story, of sentence structure, of word choice. Sometimes you can tell just by reading a page of a book which author has written it – if you are familiar with their work already. A strong writer’s voice is something you want, no need to develop as a writer. It is what distinguishes May’s stories, for example, from E.T. Costello’s. (I would recommend reading both those stories, they are hot!) And once you have found your writer’s voice, you need to hone it, polish it and nurture it. You should perfect it, but not change it. Because it is unique to you.
I have found my writer’s voice. I found it years ago and it has served me well so far. I am not sure why I felt I needed to change my writer’s voice when I started writing erotica. Erotica is just another genre. Sure, I use different words, but it’s still MY voice. And from the moment I started writing erotica I pushed that voice away. I tried to emulate other erotica writer’s voices and in the process, I lost my way completely. I became frustrated with my novel, and most of my short stories ended in the bin because they didn’t feel authentic. The one that made the cut, and that features in the Truth Anthology was written after I shut out my inner critic and just wrote the story I wanted to tell.
It is sad that is has taken me this long to realise that writing erotica is no different than writing any of the other genres I have written in. Yes, the story is different, some of the words are different (I don’t think I have ever used the word “cunt” in any of my books before, certainly not this much!) but writing is writing. I am not a horrible writer. Do I still need more practice and is there still room for improvement? Sure! But I should stop comparing myself to other writers and write MY way. I am unique, we are all unique and that is great. If we weren’t we’d all sound alike and where’s the fun in that?
I am rejuvenated by this revelation. I have gained back my confidence to write longer pieces of fiction again. I will go back to my novel and finally finish it. I will write more short stories and hopefully one day I will be able to get one published. But that is a minor concern. The biggest triumph is getting my voice back and embracing the way I tell my stories.
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