Apparently I have sold two other stories. The ink has maybe kind of dried on the contract, so I’ll just babble about them.
I originally wrote the two stories for a colleague. He wanted to start some kind of electronic zine, and I said I’d write some stories for him. I wrote the pieces but he never got around to making his zine. So I said “screw it” and submitted the stories elsewhere. (For the record, those stories sat on the back burner for TWO YEARS. So it’s not like I waited, like, three months before deciding to move on.)
I’d also had a string of rejections. I was feeling particularly low and a little bitter. While I didn’t think anything would come of my submission (market I usually didn’t submit to, the stories being exceedingly short for the genre) I said “screw it” and submitted anyways.
The two stories in question are also erotica. Yup. But they’re trans erotica, written about trans men, for trans men (primarily), by a trans man. There is just not a lot of erotica (none? approaching that?) for and about trans men. There’s not a lot of erotica for trans people period. At least, not the type which doesn’t fetishize us.
So. There is that. I also like to think that erotica is not incompatible with literary fiction. Well written, enjoyable, hot sex has its place in fiction just as much as crap sex (which is what I see far too much of). And I much prefer reading and writing the former.
Even if it’s just smut for the sake of smut, that in itself can be powerful and moving, andjust plain fun. And there is nothing wrong with writing sexy sex for the sake of fun.
So yes. A little smut. And welcome additions to my publication list.
A picture with a person extending two hands, palms upward. From upsplash.com.
I love first person present tense. For me it’s the most demanding of any point of view and tense, because it requires the utmost discipline and agility to work effectively.
There are plenty of utilitarian examples of first person present tense. The one which springs readily to my mind is The Hunger Games. It was first person present tense in name only. In reality it was first person past, or, third person past, simply in the way that it handled action, emotions, and description. This is not a bad thing. Collins was writing for a young adult audience, and the choices she made in her use of first person present tense were appropriate and helped her appeal to more readers. But it is a good example of utilitarian first person present — that is, a first person present which acts a first person past, or third person of any tense.
The rules of first person present are vastly different from those of first person past, or third person, and even second person. You don’t stop and describe the main character’s house, for instance, especially if that house is not new to them. You never stop to describe your own house. Why would your main character? Why would your main character stop to describe anything that wasn’t important, or cursory? And if they did describe something, would they really pause and go “gosh she is so pretty, with her blonde hair and legs that go on forever”? Probably not.
“Sticking the landing” is a term from the sporting world, specifically gymnastics. If one sticks the landing, you’ve executed your routine flawlessly, but most importantly, when you performed the final landing, you stick it. You didn’t budge an inch, much less trip or fall all over yourself.
As a writer, I love the feeling of sticking my own landings. Of having gotten something absolutely right, down to the blood and marrow of that story, or a particular part of a story. There is nothing like knowing with certainty that I absolutely stuck the landing.
The last time this happened it was when I finished the last draft of a short story “Speak to Me”. I know I stuck that landing, beyond any doubt. The story was good.
Right now “Speak to Me” is making rounds with magazines. So far it has received a very nice rejection note. A personalized rejection note, where the editor encouraged me to send more work. In the world of writing and publishing, a personal rejection notice with encouragement to submit is a big deal. Most rejection notices are form notices. It’s lucky if you get a personal rejection. Even more so if you get a personal rejection with encouragement to submit or resubmit.
So even if “Speak to Me” wasn’t right for that issue of the magazine, I still stuck the landing. It will find the right home, but for now I remain very pleased with the story.