I’m not one of those people who started writing their own stories at a very young age. I did make a half-hearted attempt after a trip to Spain and Morocco when I was 22 and thought I had something to say. But I soon concluded I had no talent at all, and that was the end of it.
Fast forward eighteen years and I found myself alone and bored while my wife was out traveling in Thailand for two months. One lonely night in bed I was reminded of the cheap erotica I used to read as a teenager, recalling some of the steamier scenes with fondness and, dare I say it, excitement.
Wouldn’t it be fun to reread some of them, I wondered. I did some looking around but these were hardly vintage items. They were printed on letter-sized pulp with magazine-style covers, and I used to buy them second-hand at markets for as little as twenty cents. The publisher had gone bust a long time ago and in 1998 the internet wasn’t what it is now. eBay was around but not the giant we know today, and in the end I was lucky to find a few copies at a second-hand bookshop.
You know how when you revisit the places of your childhood, they all seem a lot smaller all of a sudden? These books were still the same size, but as it turned out, the writing was appalling, something I never noticed as a teenager. Worse, most of them were about as exciting as three days old dishwater.
There were a few scenes that showed a little promise, though, and somehow I got it into my head I could improve upon them. I took a scene I remembered from almost twenty-five years ago and rewrote it.
That was fun and exciting in more than one way.
I kept embellishing and soon cooked up a whole new story around it, and by the time my wife returned home from Thailand, I had written an 80,000 words book.
Seeing a whole new world and characters coming into existence from my imagination was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life, and I often kept writing until the sun came up.
My wife thought the book was publishable, and my friends encouraged me to go find a publisher. But I was hesitant. Firstly, I didn’t think it was good enough, and secondly, I was wary of putting my name on the cover of a book with highly erotic content.
So use a pen name, they said. But that didn’t feel good. It felt like lying. So I shelved it and wrote a sequel, and then another one.
Some six months ago, I revised my viewpoint. My now ex-wife said, why don’t you publish all those stories you’ve written? There must be some money in that, and it may also be rewarding to see your work in print.
And I thought, why not? Let’s publish it and put my name on it. Because in this time of long overdue openness about sexual harassment, I think I have a few valuable thoughts to share about the difference between sexual fantasy and reality. Read more about it in this (not written yet) post.
As of this writing, I’m working on three short stories. I’ll be publishing them on Amazon soon, and then I’ll have something more to say about this subject.
I’m also writing in other genres now: fables, fantasy, short stories. It’s a lot of fun, and in future posts I’ll be sharing my experiences with writing, self-publishing, and writing resources and software.
Copyright © 28-10-2017 Theo van der Ster
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