A mechanic has his impact wrench and a carpenter his hammer, but what tools does a writer use to accomplish his trade? We used to say a typewriter, such as a Royal or Underwood, but today’s writer likely uses a laptop or desktop to ply his/her craft.
I’ve been in the business of writing stories for going on eight years now without the benefit of formal training on the art of stringing words together in a coherent fashion. As a typical engineer, I’ve approached the English language in the same manner as you would a murder hornet. I honestly believe that engineers as a species are born with a genetic defect that renders us incapable of understanding the English language and manipulating it for our own good.
Born during the dawn of computers, the one thing that always sat on my desk was a dictionary or Word Catalog as my friend Maurice always called it. He loved to read the dictionary, but he always complained that the topics kept changing.
Later on, we had a speller to replace the dictionary as we knew what word we wanted to use but were unable to spell it. The “speller” is known under a variety of titles and can only be found these days as a used book. It contains only a list of words without definitions to minimize the size of the book.
My latest copy of Webster’s NewWorld Speller/Divider still sits on my desk as it’s often easier to look up a word that you can’t spell and can’t get close enough for the builtin spell checker program to guess. For instance, nymphomanic is a common word that I get wrong about half the time, or areola is another one I struggle with.
I live in awe of my esteemed colleges when they discuss sentence structure or parsing a sentence. My mouth hangs open at the thought of when to use a noun or adverb, or what that even means? As I always say, “I thought Viagra was used to cure a dangling participle.”
I grew up in what is called “Deep East Texas,” in piney woods country. I usually spent the summers with my grandparents on their reasonably large farm, hunting and exploring the endless woods around their house.
The one thing I learned from growing up in the Texas backwoods, besides the fact grass burrs hurt and being barefoot in a yard with chickens is no fun, was reading. My grandparents had a number of children, and for whatever reason, all of their college textbooks were stored at their home.
Consequently, when it was too hot to play outside, I would grab a textbook and read. That may have been what pointed my path to engineering was the reading of technical books as a child. As an only child, I learned to entertain myself, and my only friend during the summer was Blue, my grandpa’s blue tick hound.
I went to a well respected technical college, which no one has ever heard of outside of academics because we didn’t have a football team. Beyond the required English classes and one semester of technical writing, I had little experience with the English language. To this day, I consider English as a second language.
After a few years as a bachelor in Houston, I took a job in the Midwest, where I met my future bride. I’m not exactly sure how we ended up as swingers beyond the fact we both enjoyed experimenting and were not overly jealous of each other. From others in the Lifestyle, a lot of couples become involved after boredom starts to settle in. For us, it was an adventure where you got to see people naked and having sex without worrying about being arrested for peeping in your neighbor’s window.
The primary drawback to swinging is that you can’t talk about your experiences outside of your peer group. It’s not a topic that comes up around the coffee pot in the breakroom. LGBTQ folks used to be in the same category, but now it seems that we’re still the only ones still in the closet.
Fast forward to one day while reading Penthouse Forum letters that it dawned on me, “I can do this.” If I create a fictitious couple, then I can write about their wife swapping stories, and remain anonymous.
Now over thirty novels and novellas later, Foxy and Larry are the sex-crazed result of my fevered brain!
We were lucky to have surrounded ourselves with a diverse group of perverts to draw from, and there is no lack of story ideas to inspire the next tale. I tend to write somewhat “true” stories and will typically take something that we’ve seen or done and twist it into a stroke story.
We’ve been lucky in the fact that for most of our married life I was a reasonably successful business owner, which gives us a lot of free time. With a private plane, we travel the continental US to visit friends and clubs all over. Swingers are a diverse and exciting group of people and a never-ending source of ideas.
Supposedly the “Dirty Thirty” is a turning point in the career of an erotic writer. Once you have thirty books under your belt, then life gets better, or so they tell me. While I have no idea if that’s true, I have found that the ups and downs of my book sales are starting to flatten out to a relative level rate of sales.
My latest thought is to work on improving my craft, and to this end, I signed up for James Patterson’s Masterclass on writing. I’m partway through the course and have found it interesting, but so far, nothing earth-shattering beyond the fact he makes a hundred million a year, and I don’t.
I started the class as a cynic and so far have not been proven wrong. Like most “How to” books, there are certain basic things you must do to succeed. The first thing is obviously to do something. I am amazed at the number of people who say something like, “I’m going to write my first novel, then within two weeks, I’ll be able to buy my private island and retire.” Then a couple of months later, they disappear and you never hear from them again.
It doesn’t make a difference what you are trying to learn; it doesn’t happen overnight with the possible exception of being shot out of a canon! Having a piece of cardboard does not make you a breakdancer; only practice does.
“I didn’t know this was so hard?” is the first comment uttered by the next Stephen King. If it were that easy, everyone would be a writer!
The nice thing about self-publishing is that you don’t have to lick the boots of the editor. Anyone can publish their drivel, but will people buy it? The one thing Patterson said, along with Stephen King, is that no one bought their first book. You have to be able to accept rejection.
Patterson had over thirty rejection letters after submitting his first story. Stephen King offered the same advice in On Writing, which I highly recommend. Writers must be like the little engine who could, “I’ll never give up, I’ll never give up!”
Be leary of accepting advice from others unless they have the same mindset as you do. Certainly, when someone tells you that you need a comma somewhere, that is a solid piece of advice to heed. However, if it is, “I would have written that paragraph completely differently,” take that advice with a grain of salt.
No two writers will approach a story in the same way, and you need to develop your own unique style. Read the works of authors you consider your contemporaries or those you look up to. Don’t copy, but learn to emulate their style. When someone sells and is ranked higher on the lists, then they are doing something right. Your brother-in-law, who has never sold one of his writings, is not the person to learn from.
Pick wisely and use the advice that makes sense to you, then reject the rest. Above all, keep writing. Patterson recommends that you pick a time when you can write for an hour or two and do that every day. If it means getting up a five a.m. to have some alone time, you should do that.
I believe this but am not hardcore about it. What I’ve found is that if I don’t feel like writing, then forcing myself to write will result in crap. As an author, you must become disciplined about writing, but that’s not an absolute.
What I do is carry a laptop with me virtually 24×7 and have all my stories in the cloud. This way, if I’ve got a few minutes of downtime, I can fire it up and pound away. Now, if I don’t feel productive, then I open a story I’m working on and start reading it. When you open a story that you haven’t seen in a week or so, you will be surprised at the number of mistakes you’ve glossed over. We all tend to see what we want to see and not necessarily what’s actually on the paper.
The big thing that I’ve learned so far from James Patterson is persistence besides the fact he is a multimillionaire. To succeed, you need to try and continue to work until you make it. As a teenager, my father believed that if he could do something, then I could do it. When I said, “I can’t!” my father would say, “You can’t hardly.”
When you hit the wall, take two steps back, and hit the wall harder. My parents are a strange couple, my Dad is a blue-collar construction worker, and my Mom is a psychologist. Together they taught me that nothing is impossible if you want it bad enough. From my Dad, I learned never give up, and from Mom, intelligence will show you the way.
So if there is a story buried in your keyboard, it’s time to fish or cut bait. As Master Yoda says, “There is no try. Either do or do not!”
Well, I think I’ve about run out of paper for this month and will be back with you next month assuming COVID-19 or an angry husband doesn’t get me!
I’m Larry Archer, and I write explicit stroke stories. I don’t write mamby pamby erotica; it’s all about fucking and sucking! There is no other way to dress it up, like putting lipstick on a pig. I’m your guy when it’s time to lock the bathroom door and take care of business. Check out my blog https://LarryArcher.blog