Saturday, July 13, 2013

ROW80 Check In 4 - With a Little Sex In It

Happy Bastille Day, everyone.

Changed my mind on what story I'm doing next. I am doing off the cuff short stories after all. More below.  An then I changed my mind again, (see further below).  First, the update:

Wednesday, Day 10 - 2168 words.

Thursday, Day 11 - 2035 words and a cover.

Friday, Day 12 - 527 words.

Saturday, Day 13 - 548 words.

But With a Little Sex In It

In the wonderful depression era comedy Sullivan's Travels, Joel McCrea plays a Hollywood director who wants to make a big, important literary movie  -- something about the real experience of the downtrodden and dispossessed -- and as he tells his producer about it, the producer keeps interjecting, "but with a little sex in it." (Watch the first ten seconds or so of this clip: Sullivan's Travels Opening.)

I was having the opposite problem of Sullivan: when I tried to write erotica, the story kept breaking off into strange, quirky literary directions.  Directions which made it cease to be erotica.

And this was a problem because, when it comes to the strategy of writing a ton of short stories and selling them for a premium price, erotica is king.

So my plan has been to write romance novelettes of various sorts.  And on Wednesday of this week, I sat down and reviewed my work on the next novelette...

Then I took an internet break and saw an update by an erotica writer who is doing the same experiment I am.  She was writing 5k stories and doing very well.

And it struck me that maybe I was trying to write the wrong length for smut.  Five thousand words is still in the "take a concept and run with it" length.  Novelettes demand some depth.  Maybe that was my problem.

The point of this whole experiment is to see if I can make money -- you know, "Mercenary Writing" --  and finding out what I can write a lot of really fast that will sell for a premium price.  So... I decided to see how many 5k stories I could write this weekend (that is Wed-Sat).

And it went amazingly, phenomenally well for two days.  It went well in spite of the fact that I took time out to research the market on that length and price point, and did some cover work, and did the usual stuff with friends and family.  When I wasn't doing that other stuff, I just sat and wrote.

For two days.

Third day, I crashed. Fourth day, I crashed more.

I can see burn out as an issue with erotica writing.

The Problem With Short And Hot

Is this irony, or what?  Writing short erotica turns out to be incredibly easy, and also utterly exhausting.  At least for me. 

And it's both easy and exhausting for the same reason: It's all about intensity. This makes it very easy for writing off the cuff.  You just start somewhere, and build a wave of intensity, take a breath, build another wave of intensity, take a breath, build a big wave of intensity.

It's easy because that's it.  You start with a concept and run with it.  It's exhausting because it starts intense, visceral and emotional, and you go more intense from there.  That's why people pay big bucks for it even though they can get it free on the internet.

This week was worse because this is new to me. I burn up extra energy on "Hey, I can do this!"  Excitement over something new -- especially something that could give good tangible results soon -- fires neurons. Makes you start thinking overtime, about the market, about plans, and about the writing itself. And these are all "anticipation" neurons, which are the same ones you're using to write the stuff.

And that's the worse thing -- because short erotica doesn't have plot, just intensity, thinking about it and plotting ahead can be as exhausting as writing.  It's not only not necessary to think and plot ahead, it's counter productive.  So the habit of thinking about the story outside of writing time is a problem too.

I expect that at least half of the energy burned was completely unnecessary -- just the usual energy of getting started, and having the wrong habits.  

So anyway, on Thursday I was thinking "Hey, I could have three or four stories done by Sunday!" and today I have decent portions of two. One is really almost done, but what's left requires a functioning creative brain. I was hoping to publish one of these on Wednesday, and I still may do that, but first I have to find a way to manage my brain power.

What I'll achieve in the next three days? You'll find out on Wednesday.  I do feel that, if I can get this energy management thing under control, I'll ultimately have more time and energy for the rest of my writing.  I'll be able to do this in shorter sprints and batches, and then get back to my regular writing.

In the meantime, it's Bastille Day.  And the day of glory hasn't quite arrived.  No watering of the fields with the impure blood of tyrants yet. (Hey, La Marseillaise might sound really rousing, but man is it bloody.  No wonder the Nazis shut down Rick's Cafe after the customers stood up and sang it.)

(I always watch that part of Casablanca on Bastille Day.)

(Oh, and BTW, there was a LaGuire on the committee that voted to behead Louis XVI. Just so you know.  This may be why my superiors decided to treat me unusually well when they laid me off.)

See you in the funny papers.


David Michael said...

I love Sullivan's Travels. Don't own it, but I make a point of seeing it maybe once a year (usually on TCM). It's a fun movie and Veronica Lake is *amazing*. =)

Have you considered just doing one hot-and-exhausting story per week? Instead of trying to be a steam locomotive? Sure, they stack up slower, but I think "stacking up" is the main goal, not how fast it happens. Especially if "fast" runs the risk of burnout.

My own writing just got shoved to the back burner, for at least a few weeks (at least a month). Day job issues. As in, this writing thing only works so long as the day job still pays. And "still pays" suddenly requires some effort on my part.

Which sucks, as I had just come up with a new schedule to try. One where I am either writing or publishing, but not both at the same time. I should get to it later, though, in the fall. Beginning of the year at the latest.


The Daring Novelist said...

Veronica Lake is on the make! (as the old poster goes)

As for writing these one a week -- yeah, that's the next phase. I mean, the goal for the ROW80 quarter is to have eight new stories to publish, and I'm not changing that.

I was hoping, though, to be able to get a bunch of drafts done, and then take a long break and write other things while publishing these once a week. I'm not as happy with killing a whole week's creativity for a 5k story.

But there are two rays of hope here:

One is that I am burning out partly because it's summer. I have a kind of reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder -- the excessive sunlight disrupts my sleep -- so maybe I'll have better luck in December.

The other is, hey, if I have all this extra non-creative time on my hands, I can clean up the basement.

The Daring Novelist said...

BTW, Day Job issues: my commiserations, and I hope the "Still pays" is good enough to be worth it. (It's awful to just be getting started and having Day Job squish your momentum.)

That's one of the things I am truly looking forward to: Until now, in summer, just as the nights get long enough for me to start sleeping again, the day job would ramp up into high gear. I'd have enough energy to get by, but I could never get any momentum.

And now I can look forward to the first September in 45 years that actually belongs to ME. (I love September. I love Fall. And it's ALL MINE!)

David Michael said...

That's what I meant: do other stories too, but only one hot-and-exhausting. Maybe do that one *last* in the week. So you have a couple days to recover.

I love fall. Always have. Too bad I live in a part of the country where fall comes late (Oklahoma). Still, I wring out of the season as much as I can. =)

My day job and my writing almost always bump into each other, because both of them fall into the "labor of love" category. Just one of them pays the bills, the other ... not so much. Just gotta keep pushing forward.


Tia Bach said...

Wishing you all the best while you are figuring it out. The more you write, the clearer it will become. I really believe that.