Seven years and eighteen days. Over two-hundred-fifty thousand words. And oh so many comments from my @literotica fans. Many begging and pleading with me to finish the damned thing already. So, it is with great pleasure that I announce one of the biggest things that happened to me in 2019 is…
I finished my Ægir’s trilogy.
I wrote the final words of Chapter 12 yesterday morning. I will edit and post them in a bit. Unfortunately, that means they will not make it onto the Literotica site until the New Year. But at least that is finished…or is it?
This story illustrates my biggest challenge as a writer. Specifically a pantser. If you are not familiar with that term, it is taken from the phrase…fly by the seat of your pants. And that is exactly what I and other pantser do. Unlike plotters who carefully and sometimes minutely plan each story, doing character profiles, and chapter outlines, I open my laptop and ask my muse, “So, what are we working on today?” Then I follow that voice wherever it takes me.
(FYI…Plotsers are a bit of both. I am experimenting with this technique with Sergeant Mike’s Miracle Tour series. I have a map printed out with his stops and a paragraph or so for each of those books.)
Ægir’s started out to be a short story. It was inspired by real-life events. My daughter’s beautiful, young Occupational therapist with flowing red hair. And the Swedish sea captain that had tied me to his bed for some truly sweet torture. It was only as I sat on the train from Tilbury back to north London that I realized…wait a minute, what if he had not released me? What if he had set sail with me still tied to his bed? And so was born Ægir’s. An ounce of reality and a ton of imagination.
It has been a complete roller coaster ride. But that is not accurate. More like a cross country road trip. Loads of stops along the way. Sometimes streaking down the highway at top speed, breaking all the laws of writing. And others stuck in traffic. I spent the past three years stuck in traffic, trying to figure out – what to do with Sven.
One of the things I believe, a central theme and core belief of my writing and my life, is…
Love can save you.
In fact, it is the only thing that can.
But my own life has also taught me – love cannot save anyone…who does not want to be saved.
I have spent too many long months and years with the wrong men, trying to ‘save’ bad boys, as the bible says “Casting my pearls before swine.” All I got for my troubles were broken hearts, battered egos, and pain. Oh, and six wonderful children.
But still, through it all, I believed, I had faith, I knew deep inside…Love is the only thing that makes life worth living.
And I was right. I found that three and a half years ago when I met Alan. Love saved us both. He was mourning the death of his wife of twenty-five years, thin and pale. I had all but given up hope. The romance writer who believed in love, but not for her. Ours is a greater love story than any I have ever read (and there are thousands if not tens of thousands of those). And certainly, one greater than my paltry skills as a writer could ever capture.
But both Alan and I wanted this. We wanted to share our lives. We wanted that enough to risk being hurt one more time. And in taking that risk, we won more than we could have ever lost.
But what about Sven? He was too scared and scarred to take those risks. Too afraid to appear weak to be truly strong. An uber Dom who thought that emotion stripped your dominance. When the truth is that love and respect are the strongest foundation of it.
It took me a long time to work that one through. I hope that this ending rings true. It does for me.
Because the other side of that story is the strength of the sub. In my other life as the feminist-homemaker, I spent much of 2019 trying to reconcile those two seemingly conflicting roles. As much as I love writing, and my other creative outlets including photography and quilting, my job, my career is homemaker. That is the choice that both Alan and I made at the outset of this relationship.
But it is not always an easy one. Not in this society where everything you are is measured by your career. And being the submissive homemaker partner of a highly successful man is not as easy as it sounds. Yes, I no longer have to worry about money. But on the other hand, I still do. In the last fifty-plus years, since Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, the term and the role of homemaker have been devalued.
Never is this more clear than when Alan and I go to his Fellows’ Dinners each year. In recognition of his accomplishment for the computing world, he is a Fellow at both the Swansea universities. So, each July, around graduation time, we get dressed up (the only time either of us does). We go and for a few hours try to fit in.
Except when it comes to that one question, “So, Tara, what do you do?”
If I answer my real profession – homemaker, they immediately discount me as unintelligent, unmotivated, and even lazy, a woman looking to ride a man’s coattails. If I answer, I write erotica. Well, I loved this year. I came up with my new tagline. I write…
Fifty-Shades meets Jane Austen with fat, old, dif-abled people.
I’m sticking to that, at least for a while.
But the truth is…I work hard. I get up at five a.m. (most mornings, I missed today). I write. I clean. I cook. I organize. I care for my family. My friends. And the community in which I live.
I am lucky that Alan recognizes my contributions to this family, not just with words of thanks and praise, for which I am very grateful, but also monetarily. We have the old-fashioned system of a ‘household budget’ which is mine to control. That gives me financial independence.
And as I read feminist writer Virginia Woolf’s classic A Room of One’s Own, it resonated with me just how important having that independent income is for writers. I had spent too much time and effort trying to make my writing pay the bills. To the point that I no longer enjoyed what I did.
2019 was the year I fell back in love with writing.
And a major part of that was a conversation with Alan where I spoke frankly about these conflicts. About how society views me…and both my careers. The outcome was freedom. I finally got…he truly does not care if I ever earn a dime as a writer. He respects what I do…and who I am.
My journey parallels Kirsty’s own. Like me, she once had a semi-respectable career that she liked and that made a difference in this world. But like me, it was never enough. She longed for home. A place where she belonged. With someone (or in her case three of them) who loved her as she was. And yes, she needed to submit. It was how her brain was wired, not anything to do with being weak or a feminist.
Finding that is a journey worth taking. Fraught with risks and heart-aches. It is not easy or for the weak. But oh when you find it, what a treasure.
But it needs fostering too. Homemaking is and will always be my first priority. Because without that home, the writing simply does not flow. Virginia Woolf may have been a bit off the mark when she said:
“…a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction…”
It is not so much a room with a lock as she insists as a home. A place of refuge and solace from the winds and trials of this world. A place where she, or he, feels safe, loved, and secure.
As I like to say, Alan gave us a house, I give him a home.
That is what Kirsty too has done. She has changed the very traditions and fabric of their lives. Because as she and I have both discovered being a sub and a homemaker does not mean you are not also a kick-ass shieldmaiden. And a feminist.
Okay, time to go edit and post that final chapter. But for my Ægir’s fans, don’t be sad. Yes, this brings some closure to Kirsty, Sven, Mikael, and Bjorn. But they ain’t dead. And neither is their story.
In fact, there are three more stories to tell. And their unusual marriage plays a major role in two of those. What are those other stories? When will I start to work on those? Afraid that in addition to being a sub, feminist-homemaker, Transcendentalist, and creator, I am also a tease. You will have to wait for those answers.
Goddess bless and hoping that your 2020 is going to be as exciting as mine.