Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker: The Best of the Best of the Best

by | February 11, 2014 | Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker | 1 comment

Here’s a quote that’s very near and dear to my heart:

the age of six I had a mania for drawing the shapes of things. When I
was fifty I had published a universe of designs, but all I have done
before the age of seventy is not worth bothering with. At seventy five
I’ll have learned something of the pattern of nature, of animals, of
plants, of trees, birds, fish and insects. When I am eighty you will
see real progress. At ninety I shall have cut my way deeply into the
mystery of life itself. At a hundred I shall be a marvelous artist. At a
hundred and ten everything I create; a dot, a line, will jump to life
as never before. To all of you who are going to live as long as I do, I
promise to keep my word. I am writing this in my old age. I used to
call myself Hokosai, but today I sign my self ‘The Old Man Mad About

That was from Katsushika Hokusai, a
Japanese painter of the Ukiyo-e school (1760-1849). Don’t worry about
not knowing him, because you do. He created the famous Great Wave Off
Kanagawa, published in his “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” — a print
of which you’ve probably seen a thousand times.

Hokusai says
it all: the work is what’s really important, that he will always
continue to grow and progress as an artist, and that who he is will
always remain less than what he creates.

Writing is like art. We
struggle to put our thoughts and intimate fantasies down just-so, then
we send them out into an often harsh and uncaring world, hoping that
someone out there will pat us on the head, give us a few coins, and tell
us we did a good job.

What with this emotionally chaotic
environment a little success can push just about anyone into feeling
overly superior. Being kicked and punched by the trials and
tribulations of the writing life making just about anyone desperate to
feel good about themselves — even if it means losing perspective,
looking down on other writers. Arrogance becomes an emotional survival
tool, a way of convincing themselves they deserve to be patted on the
noggin a few more times than anyone else, paid more coins, and told they
are beyond brilliant, extremely special.

It’s very easy to spot
someone afflicted with this. Since their superiority constantly needs
to be buttressed, they measure and wage the accomplishments and merits
of other writers putting to decide if they are better (and so should be
humbled) or worse (and so should be the source of worship or
admiration). In writers, this can come off as someone who thinks they
deserve better … everything than anyone else: pay, attention,
consideration, etc. In editors, this appears as rudeness, terseness, or
an unwillingness to treat contributors as anything but a resource to be

Now my house has more than a few windows, and I have
more than enough stones, so I say all this with a bowed head: I am not
exactly without this sin. But I do think that trying to treat those
around you as equals should be the goal of every human on this planet,
let alone folks with literary aspirations. Sometimes we might fail, but
even trying as best we can — or at least owning the emotion when it
gets to be too much — is better than embracing an illusion of

What this has to do with erotica writing has a lot
to do with marketing. As in my column (“Pedaling Your Ass”) where I
vented a bit on the practice of selling yourself rather than your work,
arrogance can be a serious roadblock for a writer. It is an illusion
— and a pervasive one — that good work will always win out. This
is true to a certain extent, but there are a lot of factors that can
step in the way of reading a great story and actually buying it. Part
of that is the relationship that exists between writers and publishers
or editors. A writer who honestly believes they are God’s gift to
mankind might be able to convince a few people, but after a point their
stories will be more received with a wince than a smile: no matter how
good a writer they are their demands are just not worth it.

editors and publishers, arrogance shows when more and more authors
simply don’t want to deal with them. After a point they might find
themselves with a shallower and shallower pool of talent from which to
pick their stories — and as more authors get burned by their attitude
and the word spreads they might also find themselves being spoken ill of
to more influential folks, like publishers.

Not to take away
from the spiritual goodness of being kind to others, acting superior is
also simply a bad career move. This is a very tiny community, with a
lot of people moving around. Playing God might be fun for a few years
but all it takes is stepping on a few too many toes — especially toes
that belong on the feet of someone who might suddenly be able to help
you in a big way some day – making arrogance a foolish role to play.

am not a Christian (despite my pseudonym) but they have a great way of
saying it, one that should be tacked in front of everyone’s forehead:
“Do onto others as you would have then do unto you.” It might not be as
elegant and passionate as my Hokusai quote, but it’s still a maxim we
should all strive to live by — professionally as well as personally.

M. Christian

Calling M.Christian versatile is a tremendous understatement.
Extensively published in science fiction, fantasy, horror, thrillers, and even non-fiction, it is in erotica that M.Christian has become an acknowledged master, with stories in such anthologies as Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica, and in fact too many anthologies, magazines, and sites to name. In erotica, M.Christian is known and respected not just for his passion on the page but also his staggering imagination and chameleonic ability to successfully and convincingly write for any and all orientations.

But M.Christian has other tricks up his literary sleeve: in addition to writing, he is a prolific and respected anthologist, having edited 25 anthologies to date including the Best S/M Erotica series; Pirate Booty; My Love For All That Is Bizarre: Sherlock Holmes Erotica; The Burning Pen; The Mammoth Book of Future Cops, and The Mammoth Book of Tales of the Road (with Maxim Jakubowksi); Confessions, Garden of Perverse, and Amazons (with Sage Vivant), and many more.

M.Christian's short fiction has been collected into many bestselling books in a wide variety of genres, including the Lambda Award finalist Dirty Words and other queer collections like Filthy Boys, and BodyWork. He also has collections of non-fiction (Welcome to Weirdsville, Pornotopia, and How To Write And Sell Erotica); science fiction, fantasy and horror (Love Without Gun Control); and erotic
science fiction including Rude Mechanicals, Technorotica, Better Than The Real Thing, and the acclaimed Bachelor Machine.

As a novelist, M.Christian has shown his monumental versatility with books such as the queer vamp novels Running Dry and The Very Bloody Marys; the erotic romance Brushes; the science fiction erotic novel Painted Doll; and the rather controversial gay horror/thrillers Finger's Breadth and Me2.

M.Christian is also the Associate Publisher for Renaissance eBooks, where he strives to be the publisher he'd want to have as a writer, and to help bring quality books (erotica, noir, science fiction, and more) and authors out into the world.

1 Comment

  1. Lisabet Sarai

    One thing we need to keep in mind is that each of us has distinct gifts and distinct voices. For instance, you know I love your work (don't get all swell-headed now… ;^)), but I wouldn't (and couldn't) write like you. That's not me.

    Looking at the marketplace, one can easily see that success depends more on extrinsic factors and on luck than on intrinsic quality. We need to keep that in mind, to balance ourselves between desperation and arrogance about our so-called talent.

    Let me also say that I love this quote. I'd like to believe that as we age, we grow in our art. I've been at this business quite a long time. Your quote makes me hope I will continue to write and to grow.

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