I suppose the other…

I suppose the other thing that I didn't say so clearly in yesterday's long entry about writing anxieties, is that a lot of my anxiety has to do with what feels to me like an attempt at a paradigm shift, a redefinition of myself from being a smut writer to being a mainstream [literary] writer. One component of that anxiety involves the question of critical reception, an area where I've been very lucky when writing smut -- for the most part, those people reviewing smut have reacted very positively to my work. So that from the beginning, I've felt very comfortable in that genre, and I have no guarantees of any such reaction with mainstream fiction.

But even leaving the critics aside, an entirely different concern has to do with readers. Because I know that my sex writing has touched people deeply. I've gotten letters from people saying that I may have saved their marriages, and letters from people who say my erotic stories have made them cry. I have ardent fans who love my erotica, and I cherish their existence; I find it deeply reassuring. And I'm worried, because my mainstream writing doesn't seem to elicit the same kind of reaction in readers. People like it, but for the most part, they don't love it. I very much enjoy writing the mainstream material -- I find it really interesting to write. But if people don't find it interesting to read, if they don't respond to it...well. I don't know what I'll do then. But it'll be a grave disappointment.

4 thoughts on “I suppose the other…”

  1. I think you may also want to keep in mind that people can have such intimate responses to erotica because it is writing about an intimate, intensely personal subject, that touches most everyone’s lives. Its a universal, this sex thing and good erotica–well-written erotica–moves people because they can see themselves in stories or they can see how they might like to be or any number of things. And while this happens with literary fiction, its different, I’d say. Somewhat removed, because it takes place in a different kind of space.

  2. You’re not going to _stop_ writing erotica entirely though, are you?

    Different kinds of writing, different kinds of joy, different kinds of reader responses… let a thousand Mary Anne flowers bloom.

  3. I honestly don’t know, Ben. I was talking to Kevin last night about the ways in which the ethnic identity and political stuff has gotten much more interesting to me lately. Maybe that’s a temporary shift, and I’ll come back to sexuality. But right at the moment, I feel like I’ve said most of what I had to say about sex, whereas there’s lots I don’t even understand about ethnicity and politics…

    Heh. Jim, thanks for the reminder re: poetry. I do need to remember to write some, every once in a while. I’m sure it’s good for me. 🙂

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