Erotica Readers & Writers Association
Home | Erotic Books | Authors Resources | Inside The Erotic Mind | Erotica Gallery
Adult Movies | Sex Toys | Erotic Music | Email Discussion List | Links




Authors Insider Tips

Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
The Path to Publication
Cookies, Sex, Secrets
Write Like a Rock Star
The Perils of Publication
Eternal Inspiration
Creating Pure Pleasure
Making Magic with Words


Kill Electrons, Not Trees
by William Gaius
Marketing Self-Published Books
The Art & Science of Pseudonyms


Naughty Bits
by Lisabet Sarai
What the Heck are Bits?
HTML 101: Web Basics
Image Problems
Did the earth move?
Backup Blues
Safeguard Your Identity
Connection-based Marketing
Head in the Clouds
App-y Together: Mobile Madness
The Scary Future


The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
Old Love Letters
We Blog
The Joy of Deadlines
Only to be read by Writers
Visits from the Typo-Pixies

The Write Stuff

by Ashley Lister

Old Love Letters

 

The Write Stuff by Ashley ListerIn the 1999 Baz Luhrmann song, Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen), the singer suggests, ‘Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.’ Luhrmann’s song is the verbatim reading of a 1997 article written by Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune columnist. The content of the article/song is a blend of home-grown wisdom and truisms that comprise the good advice that is typically wasted on the young.

If this advice was directed to young writers, it could be modified to the advice: keep your original drafts.

I say keep your original drafts because I genuinely believe such mementos from the past helps us writers to see how we’ve grown over the years. Styles tastes and approaches always differ. But sometimes the changes within ourselves are so subtle it’s like the shift between one season and another – and only possible to see in retrospect.

I mention this because I happened to be working through a manuscript that was originally produced somewhere between the time Mary Schmich was writing her article, and the time when Baz Luhrmann was contemplating reading it to a soundtrack.  This is from the original text:

There were no fixed rules about what should be worn in the office. Jeans and T-shirts were virtually de rigueur for the copy staff. Short skirts and tight blouses were the norm for the typists, temps and secretaries. Trouser suits, lycra leggings and low cut tops were all accepted. Cleavage was allowed to be seen; some women thought it was a must to display the tops of their thighs; and some of the male staff wore jeans so tight you could see the denomination of their loose change. The unwritten rules of the office dress code were so lax that almost anything was permissible.

Walking down the main corridor, Becky came close to violating ever one of the unwritten rules. Her skirt was short enough to show off the gusset of her panties. The fact that her skirt was black pvc, as were her pants, helped to mask this fact. But anyone who gave her a passing glance could see how boldly she was dressed. There were a lot of passing glances as she walked down the corridor. 

In the dozen years since this was written, my approach to writing has changed.  I now follow the creative writing maxim of eschewing adverbs. I try to keep in tune with the belief that authors should show: not tell. And this is how I’ve amended the piece.

There were no fixed rules about what should be worn in the office. Jeans and T-shirts were de rigueur for most of the copy staff. Short skirts were the norm for the typists, temps and secretaries. Trouser suits, leggings and low cut tops were all accepted. Cleavage was allowed to be seen. Some women thought it essential to display the tops of their thighs. Some men wore jeans so tight you could see their loose change. The unwritten rules of the office dress code were lax and anything was permissible.

Walking down the main corridor, Becky violated all of the unwritten rules. Her skirt was short and showed off the gusset of her panties. That her skirt was black pvc, as were her panties, helped to mask this fact. But anyone who gave her a passing glance could see how boldly she was dressed. And there were many passing glances as she walked down the corridor

It’s pleasing to note that the opening line remains the same in both pieces. This suggests I’ve always been writing to a similar level of quality. Similarly, all that’s changed in the second sentence is the loss of one of the aforementioned adverbs (virtually). In academic speak: as we already know we’re discussing unwritten rules, the suggestion that these standards are virtual does not need the reinforcement of the adverbial.

The third line has been trimmed to something more succinct. I’ve also addressed the punctuation in the first paragraph where the original version included a series of semicolons to separate listed clauses. The contemporary version doesn’t use semicolons.

Is this an improvement?

I think so, but I’m not exactly an impartial party. I prefer the second version but that’s only because I’ve seen the original and I’ve been able to pick at its faults and address them to suit my modern palate.

To strike an analogy – from around the same time I was wearing a goatee. I no longer wear one now. At the time, several people said to me, “Ashley – you look much more attractive with a beard.”

It doesn’t take a lot to win me over, and so I wore a beard for a decade.

Earlier this year, when trimming that same beard, and noticing that it was reminiscent of the one worn by Santa Claus, I realised the damned thing made me look ancient. I also wondered what people had meant a decade earlier when they said I look more attractive with a beard. Does this suggest, that the more I cover my face, the more attractive I appear? Would those same folks have gone on to suggest that I should slip a paper bag over my head to ensure I achieved maximum attractiveness given my repulsive facial condition? Probably not, but I do believe that, as times change, we change with those times.

Heraclitus of Ephesus observed: “You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.” 

And whilst I believe this is absolutely true, I do think that those writers who hold onto their original drafts can get a taste for how the flowing rivers of life have affected them, and how much different their contemporary responses have changed from their original reactions. Holding onto original drafts, and returning to them occasionally, can help to gauge some of these changes.

Ashley Lister
December 2011 - January 2012


Contact Ashley at Ashley Lister
Find more of Ashley's Write Stuff in ERWA 2011 Archive

______
"The Write Stuff" © 2011 Ashley Lister. All rights reserved.

About the Author:  Ashley Lister is a UK author responsible for more than two-dozen erotic novels written under a variety of pseudonyms. His most recent work, Swingers: True Confessions from Today's Modern Swinging Scene (Virgin Books), a non-fiction book recounting the exploits of UK swingers, is his first title published under his own name.
Ashley’s non-fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Forum, Chapter & Verse and The International Journal of Erotica.  Nexus, Chimera and Silver Moon have published his full-length fiction, with shorter stories appearing in anthologies edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Rachel Kramer Bussel and Mitzi Szereto.  He is very proud to be a regular contributor to ERWA.
Email:  Ashley Lister
Website:  www.ashleylister.co.uk



  E-mail this page


Search ERWA Website:

Copyright © 1996 and on, Erotica Readers Association, Inc.
All Rights Reserved World Wide. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or
medium without express written permission is prohibited.

Sex Toy Reviews

Clit & Bullet Vibrators

Bnaughty Vibrator
Review by Kyra Saunders

Form 4 Vibrator
Review by Kyra Saunders

The Limon Story
by Minna Life

Limon Vibrator Review
by Mr. & Mrs. Toy

Mystic Mini Wand
Review by Kyra Saunders

Obsession Bullet Vibe
Review by Kyra Saunders

Trojan Triple Pleasure Vibrator
Review by Kyra Saunders

For Couples

Tara Rechargeable Couples Vibrator
by Mr. & Mrs. Toy

The We-Vibe Story
by Denny Alexander

We-Vibe 4 Review
by Mr. & Mrs. Toy

G-spot & Dildo Vibrators

Spring Mini Vibrator
Review by Kyra Saunders

Uma Waterproof Vibrator
Review by Kyra Saunders

P-spot & Anal Plugs

Aneros Vibrating Anal Toy
Review by Mr. & Mrs. Toy

Double Delight Vibrating Anal Beads
Review by Mr. & Mrs. Toy

Naughty Boy Anal Toy
Review by Mr. & Mrs. Toy

Cock Rings & Guy Toys

Cobra Libre Stimulator for Men
Review by Mr. & Mrs. Toy

Duet Cock Ring
Review by Mr. and Mrs. Toy

Fleshlight Review
The ultimate male toy

Mio Vibrating Cock Ring
Review by Mr. & Mrs. Toy

Tenga Flip Masturbator
Review by Mr. & Mrs. Toy

Verspanken (Male) Masturbator
Review by Mr. & Mrs. Toy

Cushions & Cool Stuff

Liberator BonBon
Review by Mr. & Mrs. Toy

Liberator Flip-Ramp
Review by Mr. & Mrs. Toy

Dildos & Strap-ons

Ménage a Trois for Two
Review by Mr. & Mrs. Toy

SpareParts Deuce Male Harness
Review by Mr. & Mrs. Toy

Riley Vibrating Silicone Dildo
Review by Mr. & Mrs. Toy