Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of
genres including erotica, erotic romance, and dark fiction. She lives on the
Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and four cats.
I went to my first meeting with a local writers group
recently. The last time I was in a writers group was at least thirty years ago.
I must have driven past the place hundreds of times, but I never noticed it.
It’s a little hideaway tucked into a corner. I like to take the scenic route
home occasionally, driving past the rocky beaches next to the ocean. This
writers group is along that route. My husband and I were going for a drive,
when he noticed the sign on the building. I must have tunnel vision or
something, since I have never noticed it before.
I would love to join a writers group, especially a local
one. I live over an hour from most writers groups in this area, and I simply didn’t
want to do all that driving. This one is ten minutes away. I couldn’t resist.
One major disadvantage in my mind in being a writer is that
it is so isolating. I have my writer friends on Facebook and elsewhere on the
Internet, but I wanted to be around real, live, breathing people. Make eye
contact. Smell cologne and perfume. Speak in real time. Mingle in meat space. I
craved companionship. I can’t speak for all writers, of course, but I wanted to
belong to a group of people with similar interests. I also wanted to belong to
a group of people who could help me in my writing career.
Now… my main worry was what would the members think of
erotica writers? I had already visited the web site, and I saw lots of notices
about readings for poetry and literary fiction. Would I fit in? I also write
horror, dark fiction, and fantasy. Would dismembered bodies go over better than
erect penises? I had no idea, but I was willing to risk it. I’m not ashamed of
what I write, but I do want to be accepted and I want approval. I want praise
for a job well done, and I want people to show interest in my work.
I worried about disapproval, but I sucked it up and went to
a poetry reading I saw listed on the calendar.
I had a blast.
There were about twenty people present. I was one of several
new people, and I was welcomed with open arms. Most members were over sixty. I
didn’t talk much about myself except to say I was a writer, I lived in town,
and I have been looking for a writers group for some time. I mostly asked
everyone else about themselves. When I told one woman I wrote human sexuality articles
for a sex toys company in London as well as erotica, she gave me “the
look” (most erotica writers probably know what I’m talking about), but
once I explained a bit further, she had shown interest. Several others reacted
in a similar fashion. At the very least, I piqued their curiosity.
Despite my fears, I fit in. I felt welcome. That meant a
great deal to me. A man read some of his poetry, and I enjoyed myself. It felt
good being in a group of pleasant people. I shared wine and conversation out in
the back yard after dark in a very relaxed atmosphere. Not only did I feel
welcome, I welcomed them into my world.
I wonder how many erotica writers are slightly embarrassed
over what they write? I’ve heard plenty of horror stories from my Facebook
writer friends of family who disapprove of their sexy stories. Some have chosen
pseudonyms to protect their jobs, especially if they teach young children.
These writers don’t get much support from their friends and family, which may
make the isolation some writers experience more distressing.
The next event I’ll attend is an open reading for anyone who
wants to read aloud – an open mike night. I’m not quite ready to read yet. I’d
rather get to know everyone better first before I drop my smut on them, but
I’ll bring a little something along in case I feel brave and decide to read
anyway. My stage fright isn’t only about reading erotica. It’s about reading
any of my works aloud. How many writers feel a lack of confidence over what
they write? I chose the perfect story to read if I decide to do it. It’s sensual
and even poetic. I have a feeling it will be praised, and I like basking in
friendship. Groucho might have said he’d never be a part of any club that would
have him as a member, but that’s not for me. Even though I’m a loner at heart,
it feels good to belong.