A writer’s problem – readers think you are your hero.
So you cunningly create a hero or heroine and your best friend reads your work and deduces that you have visited that city, the brothel, ridden your bike down the very mountain path etc. or whatever else occurs in the story. After all, academics argue that Shakespeare couldn’t have written The Two Gentlemen of Verona, because he never visited Italy and his knowledge of the city within the play, is too exact to have been written from the imagination. It must have been someone of noble birth, not a working class oik with a glovemaker for a father.
Garbage of course. Academics should ask themselves how many Italian merchants, or merchants who had lived decades in Italy, were residing in Shakespeare’s London. Of course a grammar school boy from Stratford wrote it! I’m not going to compare myself to Shakespeare, but it is good to know Shakespeare has my problem, albeit in reverse and centuries after his death. Well, that won’t happen to me!
All things are possible. Yes! I could have done those things – but I didn’t. I’ve never shot three people in cold blood and made a desperate getaway, leaving the loot with a charity for prostitutes. (The Last Stop). Nor does JK Rowling have a broomstick licence.
My friends assume I have never done time so it can’t have been me. In fact they know very little about what goes on in my head and Jesus said, thinking about it is as bad as doing it. With that, he set the bar too high for most of us. I might have robbed a bank and paid for sex, but I’m unable to own up to either, in my head or otherwise. It wasn’t me Guv!
Thus it was, it took 2 years to gather the courage to publish Goddesses – or 49 ½ Shades of Charcoal. I was simply scared of the rebound!
It is written in the first person from the POV of a 37 year old successful business woman – little room for confusion then. It can’t have been me.
But I thought up all those pornographic scenarios – therefore I am guilty as charged of being a disreputable rake. ‘But I thought them up to ridicule the industry and give my readers a good laugh,’ I reply.
Too late! The book is out there and I must face the consequences, lose friends, be looked at strangely by my family etc. That’s why it took so long to press the <publish> button.
Experience so far:
Men think my plots are a hoot – women hate them. Which leaves me to consider myself a failure. After all, if women hate the plot they can’t be identifying with my characters and therefore my female POV is not realistic. Nevertheless, I am hanging on to the thread of a hope that says I can think myself inside a woman’s erotic psyche. That might be why women hate the book – it’s too close to home and a colleague once told me, of all the men she knew, I was most in harmony with my female self – (Jung I assume). I didn’t dare ask for clarification at the time and she has since stopped talking to me.
When 50 Shades of Grey was published, it caused a world paper shortage. I looked through the carriages on the U6 in Berlin and counted the women of all ages, reading a book folded into brown paper. What a give-away! Presumably, they were curious about a bit of BDSM, but didn’t care to reveal it. But 50 Shades isn’t erotic and has little to do with reality. Rotten Tomatoes described the film as ‘As erotic as kicking a log down the street,’ and I found the film better than the book. I think we were conned by marketing and not for the first time and I wanted to put that right. Another beta reader told me he needed several cold showers while reading Goddesses so I have done better than E L James in that department. I didn’t even feel the need to wash my hands after 50 Shades.
At this moment I am drawing the following conclusions.
Men like tongue in cheek, witty porn. Maybe pornography for women is still a serious thing in their lives, in which case, I envy them. I can rarely take such a boring genre, seriously. Why invent a film style that uses actors of doubtful ability and the same plot, over and over again? It’s doomed to boredom – except that it keeps going, albeit by giving away its output. Who wants to buy the same story every week.
Therein was my challenge. I would write something involving sex and be original and be funny. Dr. Hilary Johnson, my editor, told me my story was very funny and original. She also told me she wouldn’t be editing for me again. I’m still wondering about the sub-text.
And what about my heroine? There couldn’t be anything of me in a 37 year old business woman POV, set in 2020, could there? My friend M S Wall spotted it immediately. Our upbringing tried to crush every ounce of imagination and rebellion from us. Well, it didn’t succeed – thank goodness.
Turn in your graves, you 60s bigots. Aren’t these the things I wish I had done, rather than what I did do? But it’s never to late to dream. You can’t take those away.
Cherchez la femme – vive les déessess.