I haven't been writing much on this blog, but I have been writing. It's been a little slow on the freelance non-fiction front, but my erotic short story collection is moving right along. I'm at the point where I can decide which stories not to include. So that's a good thing. I've been asked a few times what's the theme of the collection. I made a list of the commonalities--food, music, minor Pop culture references, Black/African characters (at least 1 in each story) and of course, sex. I'd like to have a little more "love" in my stories, but I've realized that when someone else reads it, they pick up on the "love" or emotion, even if I don't think I included any. That's my energy coming through on the page. I'm an emotional person. I feel everything and I have the ability to feel what you feel and make you feel what I feel (I know that's empathy, but I felt like being long-winded).
In mid-July, I went to the Harlem Book Fair (HBF), primarily because there were certain talks and workshops I wanted to attend. It was my first time at the event and I did enjoy myself. But I was turned off by all the booths and the folks manning the booths shoving "Urban Fiction" at me. When I see people reading those books on the train, my initial thought is, "Oh, they reading one of those ghetto books." Then I quickly rationalize, "Well, at least they're reading." I can only recall TWO (book) booths that weren't selling that genre of fiction (There were tons of other vendors). Two? In the panel discussion on making a living off your art the topic came up and what it boiled down to is that's what sells. And at some point your art/show becomes a business. By no means were the attendees of the workshop encouraged to write Urban Fiction but it was just an example of the obvious--what sells is what makes money and there will always be someone who will relate to (and buy) your art, so continue to create what works for you (special thanks to Mo Beasley, Mahogany Browne, Brad "Blue" Bathgate and Ebony Washington).
About a week before I went to the HBF, I was doing a rewrite of one of my stories. It's written in the 1st person, male. All of a sudden his new voice became one I was more "familiar" with. The character became more "black" or "urban". Originally, he said things like, "I don't want to sound like a putz..." and "After I took a wiz...". I pride myself on being able to get into any character voice and that was the story told from the POV of a putz. In my rewrite, "breasts" became "tits", "restroom" became "bathroom", "erotic thoughts" became "freaky thoughts". The decision now is which version to include in my book. Which one will sell?
The business side of writing is one I have to become a student of--fast.
I will always be true to myself and write what I want to write, especially when it comes to fiction; write things that make the reader think, feel a connection to the characters, disgust them, make them consider new things, and in the case of erotic stories, arouse them with scenarios they never thought were sexy. Hmm, so I guess that's the primary theme of my collection, I have roughly 1000-2000 words to immerse you in someone else's thoughts, life, bedroom...