This week’s Food for Thought Friday topic is “The Why of Blogging”. Why do we do it? What drew us in? What compels us to write? Why do we write when and what we do, and would we still be writing it if we weren’t writing for an audience?
I started writing smutty fiction when I was in my early teens. It could get quite sexy, but mostly it had a romantic bent, and involved myself and whatever pop star was getting my hormones raging at the time. I wrote for no one but myself; indeed I would have been horrified if anyone had ever read my stories.
I don’t recall exactly what spurred the transition, but a couple of years later my friends starting asking me to write stories for them. There was far less smut in these offerings, and mostly they followed this time-honoured format:
- rich and famous rockstar/ movie star/ hot guy in science class (Y) meets the shy girl, mousy but pretty, and ready to be swept off her feet (X);
- wooing ensues- a kiss, a gentle touch (no further than first or, at a stretch, second base at this point, although I confess I’ve never really been clear on the “bases”);
- Insert obstacle here; jealous ex girlfriend, disapproving parents, religious differences, boy gets suspended from school for some minor infraction;
- X realises that they are crazy for Y and just can’t live without them, and vice versa;
- The heroic love interest, Y, says “screw you” to the ex, or the protagonist’s parents, or the vicar, or the school principal, and tells the whole world to go fuck itself because he’s deeply in love with our heroine, X, and he’s going to spend the rest of his life with her;
- X and Y kiss passionately, maybe have some fairly chaste and wholesome sex, depending on my “client’s” preferences, before the two of them walk off into the sunset together;
- And they lived happily ever after, The End.
You get the picture. All very formulaic, made-to-order romantic fiction for my teenaged school friends. Nothing at all wrong with that; these are all well-established romantic tropes, and they appeal to their audience. I got quite a name for myself among my target audience, and a bit of a reputation as a silly, chubby, airheaded, try-hard writer of ridiculous clap-trap amongst my detractors (and there were many- high school was not a fun time for me!).
When I left school at 15 and started work, I continued to write, but for myself only. By my late teens, I had stopped writing sexy stories altogether. I don’t know why, but I suppose now that I was indulging in the real thing on a semi-regular basis, I no longer felt a need to arouse myself with my own naughty tales.
In my twenties I went back to finish high school, and subsequently attended university. For a whopping 11 years all up, (undergrad, post-graduate Honours programme and an as yet unsubmitted PhD thesis), I wrote, boy did I write, but it was all academic work. Whilst in my postgrad Honours thesis I did explore topics of sex and the “dangerous” female appetite, there was no call for my smutty musings (more’s the pity. They were dry times, the university years, and I could have used the buzz 😉 ).
Necessity drew me out of my PhD and anticipated academic career and back into the 9-5 world of the office, and there was no time or inclination to write. I met ‘H’ around this time, and discovered my polyamorous identity, so again, life became more about doing it than writing about it. It never occurred to me that it was possible to marry the two.
Then one night in May of this year (2019), on the first of the two spring bank holidays in England, I had my laptop open and was just “dicking” around with my newly updated Microsoft Word, and I started typing. The finished result was “Did You Miss Me? (Part One)
I don’t know where it came from, but I liked it. I loved writing it, and stretching those long dormant smut-composing muscles, and I was pleased with what I had written. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to share it with others and see if they might like it, too? Then came the big moment: google search, “free blog sites”, click enter.
I knew about blogs from my vanilla twitter feed, and had read some excellent posts on mental health, sex and erotic fiction from a number of sources. I’d thought about getting into it myself, but had always talked myself out of it. I didn’t want anyone I knew to read my innermost thoughts. I would feel too exposed. But armed with my newly-written piece of erotica, I did some research to find out whether I could blog anonymously, or under a pen-name. Perhaps emboldened by the bottle of merlot I had just finished, I immediately set up Jupiter’s Lair. (Jupiter Grant being the name I was already using as my profile on LoveHoney). From then on, I was hooked.
That’s the history of how and why I started blogging. So what has made me fall in love with it? What makes me continue to want to write? What is it about blogging that has changed my focus, to make me think of myself as “a writer” rather than just a tinkerer? How has it made me aspire to hone my “craft” (caution, wanky artist-speak alert!) and to dream of being able to write full-time?
First and foremost, it must be said, it’s the rampant fucking narcissism.
I got my first few likes, and I quickly became addicted. You like me? You really like me?! It was a terrific tonic for someone whose self-confidence had taken a severe battering from cancer, a transition within my relationship with ‘H’, an unhappy parting from another partner at the time (‘B’), the profound and personally devastating loss of my mum, and a protracted episode of depression and mental illness. In search of more of those wonderfully affirming likes and even, gasp! shock!, the occasional positive comments, I wrote and wrote and wrote. Some nights I didn’t sleep for writing, and would spend the next day at my desk distracted by thoughts of everything I was going to write when I got home.
Stories, poems, 4 am musings; I vomited them forth as all that pent up need for expression rose to the surface and brought me back to life. This is why I always try to leave comments on the posts of other bloggers, and to promote their work through my weekly SoSS posts. I know just how much those kinds of affirmations mean to bloggers, authors, artists, poets, et al because they have been a godsend to me right from my very first like.
That’s a big firstly, I know. But is, for me, a huge part of why I write. I want to please an audience. I want them to read something I have written, and to enjoy it. Maybe they’ll stay and leave a comment. Perhaps they might linger on my blog for a while and click on some of my other posts. Is it about the amount of traffic I get, the number of clicks? Sure, that’s a part of it; I check my stats every week. But more than that, it’s because through their likes and comments, I can start to learn about what kinds of material work best, and what material is less popular. I can start to gauge “my audience”, and try to appeal to and to cater to what they seem to enjoy most, without selling-out or being less authentic, of course. (Wait, authentic? Aww, damn it, I’m too late to join in on last week’s Wicked Wednesday authenticity meme.)
So what is my second big impetus for writing and blogging? It’s the community. I have been absolutely astounded by the incredible support and camaraderie in the sex-blogger community, as well as the poets and writers I have encountered in the blogiverse and on twitter. I have had the amazing good fortune to have the amazing May More and Posy Churchgate take me under their wings and offer me advice and opportunities that I had never expected. I’ve made tremendous friends through blogging, too many to list here (though I do want to give a special shout to my fellow “newbie” sex-bloggers Deviant Succubus and Francesca Demont). The Smutlancer website and podcasts are an amazing resource, where Kayla Lords and Molly Moore share their wisdom and experience with those of us who “write about sex and want to get paid for doing it”.
The sex-blogging community is such an inclusive, supportive and affirming community, and I am thankful and honoured to be able to consider myself part of it. On my journey, I’m learning more about other writers, more about writing, more about blogging, and more about becoming an independent author. I’m learning about freelancing; how to submit new material to websites and journals, and how to start pitching my ideas.
And, I’ve had my eyes opened to the huge array of kinky sex that’s happening in the world and, as a result, I’m learning more about myself and what turns me on. And that, ultimately, has been the big take-home from blogging, why I love it, and why I plan to continue doing it long into the foreseeable future.