Go into yourself. Examine the reason that bids you to write; check whether it reaches its roots into the deepest region of your heart, admit to yourself whether you would die if it should be denied you to write. This above all: ask yourself in your night’s quietest hour: must I write?
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
I first heard this story and about the book in Sister Act 2.
It was years before I made the time to read it, but it, along with A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, became my favorite writer’s manuals.
I had written, on and off, almost since I first learned to read when I was ten. One of the few ‘whoopins’ I got as a child was for writing a fairy tale in math class. In my twenties, my ex-husband, the preacher and I began a romance novel. It was not until we divorced that I ventured deeper into it, though. I started writing fanfic based on Christine Feehan’s Carpathian series.
But it was not until my second marriage began to crumble around me that I became a writer. I took up writing as a distraction and outlet for my unfulfilled sex drive. It was smut. Pure and simple. Nonetheless, it was writing. And it got me through an incredibly hard decade of loss.
Then the storm ended, a rainbow came out, and I found in my beloved life partner a pot of gold at the end of it. I was happy at long last. I no longer needed to write as a catharsis. For almost three years, I wrote very little.
This year, I have begun to emerge from that chrysalis. I have found my wings, my purpose for writing. It was there all along. Even when I wrote that smut, it was buried deep within.
My friend, the artist, was over this week. We have commissioned her to paint a fairy tree on the wall in the playroom. We were talking about writing and art. I assumed that like me, her art was a passion. She told me, no, she did not feel the need to paint, or do any form of art. It was about money, a job. She did not ‘feel’ like an artist for that reason. I must say I was surprised.
But the truth is…
I don’t care if I make money on my writing.
And thanks to a wonderful life partner who values my primary job as a homemaker by showing his appreciation not only with words but also financially through a monthly household allowance that is all mine, I don’t need to. That has been incredibly freeing. Because another truth is…most writers will never make a living at it.
So, why do I write?
If not for that catharsis?
I write now with a purpose. To share a message. It is a simple one. And whether it is Raquel’s alternative lifestyles or Tara Neale’s traditional love between just one man and one woman, even in those porn short stories, it is always the same.
My Three Rules of Life and Love:
1) Life sucks.
2) Love is the only thing that makes it worth living.
3) Great sex is the best way of showing that love.
I believed that through a decade of darkness when that kind of love seemed utterly out of reach for a forty/fifty-something single mother of an autistic child. Now, I live that Happily Ever After with my very own hero, one better than any I have ever written or even read about. My passion and my purpose in life are sharing that hope with others. To get them through those dark times that I have transversed. The valley of the shadow of death as I called my depression and anxiety.
Love can save us. It is the only thing that can.
My writing will also be more focused. Too much of romance and erotica focuses upon young, thin, beautiful people. Like they are the only ones that deserve or can find love. My stories will feature fat people, women and men. The heroes and heroines will be older, more mature. They will also face challenges such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, as well as perhaps dealing with subjects such as poly and LGBT++. Some of that is not new, of course, but I will be culling and abandoning stories that do not fit this purpose.
This new awareness of that purpose transforms other things as well. If it is not about making money, but rather about reaching people with that message, that changes how I market/promote my writing.
I realize now that what works for other writers won’t work for me. I don’t need 50K followers on Twitter or to max out Facebook (which I no longer have) with 5K ‘friends’ or even to pay for promoting my books.
What I, as a writer and human being want, is connection. I want to find my audience, my niche, my tribe. Whether that is ten people, ten thousand, or ten million, it does not change how I interact with them.
So, I am changing my tactics, folk.
I will keep my stuff on Amazon. I will continue to sell new releases there, exclusive to KDP Select first. I do this, not because I believe in Amazon. I don’t support many of their practices to employees or writers. But as a Prime customer and Unlimited reader, I do appreciate that they are, for now, almost the only game in town. Even then, I am perfectly happy for people to borrow my books on Unlimited for free rather than buy them.
I have also decided to lower the price of ALL my books to $0.99. Not because I don’t think they are not worth more, but because the laws of economics say that more people will buy something at a lower price point.
After the initial three months on KDP Select, I will then release them through other distributors at that same price. After a few months or year, I will post them to Literotica and Wattpad for free, and change the prices elsewhere accordingly. I will also be returning to Literotica with some exclusive stories. Yes, including finishing Ægir’s.
But…here comes the plug, folks…
The hardest part of writing in Brave New World of publishing is finding that tribe, making those connections. If any of this appeals and you want to stay current with what I am doing, know before anyone else what is coming out where/when, and receive exclusive reads before anyone else, then the best ways of doing that are:
1) My newsletter – Once a month, will include updates on what is being released where, when, and free days for both pen names, Raquel and Tara. It will also include one free story or chapter, days before it is released at Literotica, including those final chapters of Ægir’s wife.
2) Twitter – This is the only social media that I really use. Either as @raquelgraffen or @tara_neale. I tweet regularly with updates including links to these weekly blog posts which won’t usually be included in my newsletters. It also has tweets and retweets other writers that I might appeal to some of you.
3) This blog – …and the Tara Neale that has book reviews and HomeCrazzyHome, primarily on the environment. Both will include more of my Crazzy thoughts on life and love. And of course, I want this to be interactive, so please leave comments below.
One last thing…if you have read any of my stuff, anywhere, please take two minutes to rate and review them. Those reviews are more important than money. They will encourage others to read and connect.
I look forward to making those REAL connections with all of you…
BTW…those Happily Ever Afters happen to real people, even Crazzy, old, fat, neurodivergent, single mothers of autistic teens even. After three years of bliss at our @HomeCrazzyHome, we are making it official. He proposed this week.