Showing posts with label On Writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label On Writing. Show all posts

Reading is a Waste of Time

At lunch on Saturday, my sister-in-law (one of the smartest, most well-read people I know) told me she doesn't read fiction much anymore. "I feel like it's a waste of time." Her husband agreed. He hasn't read a novel in years and has no plans to. She's a professor of law, and he is a software engineer. These are not stupid people. They read articles relating to work, or non-fiction. She has a Kindle. He reads exclusively on the Internet.

A few weeks ago, my neighborhood had a community garage sale. Only two houses in thirty-eight had any books for sale. I sold not even a single fiction book, but the cookbooks went in record time. Consulting the other book seller, I found that he hadn't sold any books either (until I came along and bought four). Even when offered for free at the end of the sale, no one wanted the books.

Our neighborhood book club broke up this Spring, due to a lack of interest.

This bothers me.

Maybe it disturbs me because reading is such an important part of my own life. My house would feel empty without the library full of books. Lazy Saturdays would be sad without a good novel to curl up with. I've learned many things from reading. I've found friends, sympathy, new hobbies and a love of prose that borders on worship. Reading relaxes me and takes me places nothing else does. Even still, I find it more and more difficult to find books that are well written, imaginative, and fresh. I drop in and out of Doubleday Book Club because pretty much everything they sell (all best-sellers, mind you) is the kind of crap that really IS a waste of time to read. I join when they offer five books for 99 cents and free-shipping, spend hours finding the few decent books on offer and then cancel as soon as I can.

I can't imagine not writing fiction (though I also write a fair bit of non-fiction, and get paid much more for it) but lately I've thought of giving up writing erotica for the same reason my sister-in-law has given up reading fiction-the growing feeling it's a waste of time.

What I've learned is that most people who still do read want it quick, easy and familiar. They want fast-food erotica (porn). Readers of erotica have gotten used to porn labeled as erotica and now want it fast and dirty with plots much like in porno films. If the point is to get off, anything else seems like a waste of time. If someone is not cumming or close to it by page two, they move on.

Many editors are like strip-mall builders. They've learned that people want McDonald's, Chili's and TGI Fridays and they give it to them. Publishers don't care about much beside the bottom line (and if they say they do, they're lying) so they continue to urge more of the same on editors and writers and the world at large. Porn is big business, and they want a part of the action. Literary erotica is dying out right along with mom and pop stores and book clubs.

I won't write porn because I don't like it. I don't care how well written it is (and some of it isn't terrible), it's still basic, like a quarter-pounder or your corner Walmart's garden center. It's still about as challenging and thought provoking as a comic book or the latest Danielle Steele best-seller. It's still about inserting part A into part B and cumming as fast as you can.

I once wrote a story that I spent hours on, days even. I worked it over at least twenty times. In the end, I think it is one of the best things to ever come from my pen. But, I knew the publisher interested in my work probably wouldn't take it. It was too good. Seriously. So, I spent about twenty minutes writing something else, something I knew they would like. I didn't even edit it. It was my own little experiment. What happened was exactly what I thought would happen-the publisher loved my tossed off nothing of a story (which was at least funny) but thought the literary piece was way above the head's of their readers. Sad. Sad. Sad. It didn't make me feel any better to hear that every editor involved in the reading group at the publisher thought my other piece (the good one) was one the the best works of erotica they'd ever read. No one would get to read it in one of their books.

By reducing sex to a catalog of parts and an accepted set of behaviors in a format as easy to handle as eating a bag of chips, readers distance themselves from the emotions of sex. This enables people to hide from themselves while feeling daring and worldly. But that's another topic.

So, I'm still writing. I am working on a new novel and one day would like to finish my Oliver series. But, the days of agonizing over characterizations, fresh approaches and every single word of prose in my erotica may be over. It's a waste of time.

Maybe I Suck

You've heard about successful writers who wrote only on napkins, or tiny notebooks, every chance they had, while working fourteen hours a day, raising ten kids and volunteering at their local homeless shelter. The point of their stories is to make other writers feel like shit when they don't write.

Today, I found myself with a slice of time to call my own and, of course, sat down to write. I started working on a blog post explaining my absence, but I stalled before I wrote a word. Did I want to apologize for not being here, say I'd be coming back, finishing this story or that novella? Did I want to talk about publishing deals or plans for a new website design? Did I want to thank the people who still come here despite my recent lack of new posting (I really am grateful to all of you) or, did I want to just admit that I am tired? Tired from working non-stop, traveling constantly, expending all of my energy on a day job I perform for the money. I sold out to suckle upon the fatted tit of corporate America and I am too exhausted to sugar-coat it today. Too exhausted to write.

All my favorite writers say they write everyday. I admire that, and when I don't write daily, I stop calling myself a writer. Unable to produce new words, I read old, filed away, story beginnings. I tell myself I am looking for something worthy of posting on the website, or something to spark an idea, but I am really looking for a reason to keep writing, to not give up. I find snippets of ideas, sometimes whole pages, more often paragraphs. I find breakups and surviving, sex and memories. I find funny things, painful things, and I find this, filed in August, 2006 and forgotten about.

Working Story Title - The Church

I’d seen him in the village. He was hard to miss. Heathcliff, Lord Byron, Jim Morrison; all my girlhood fantasies rolled into one tragically beautiful package. Dark, lanky, foreign; his lonely, haunted air captivated me from the first time I saw him riding his bicycle through the grove of olive trees near the town’s 500 year old church.

I saw him in the square, in the park, down by the river. Once, in the flower shop, he brushed against me but he never looked at me. I knew his eyes were so dark they were almost black because I’d watched him often, growing bolder the more time passed without him catching me spinning my lustful castle in the sky all around him.

He had a faraway dreamy quality about him. He looked bored, yet snapped with energy. He was always alone.

I never had the nerve to follow him home though I ached to climb whatever stairs led to his house, knock on his door and throw myself at his feet, confessing weeks of lustful fantasies, begging him to fuck me.

When I finally met him, it turned out I could not utter a word until he demanded it.

“Yes,” I screamed.

15 Books in 15 Minutes

I'm stealing this from Alice, who stole it from a popular social networking site. Though I rarely do this sort of thing (steal or do list tags), encouraging reading is always a good thing. Reading makes better writers.

The Rules:
You may only take fifteen minutes to complete this exercise.

No edits allowed.

The Exercise:
List fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you.

Post your list on your blog and drop a link into the comments here.

Here's my list -

The Stand – Stephen King
The Road - Cormac McCarty
Lightning – Dean Koontz
Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
The Valley of the Horses – Jean M. Auel
The Witching Hour – Anne Rice
Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
On Writing - Stephen King
The Weight of Water - Anita Shreve
Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
The House of Sand and Fog - Andre Dubus
Flame & the Flower - Kathleen Woodiwiss
Crime & Punishment - Dostoyevsky
Jaws - Peter Benchley
Damage - Josephine Hart

This was harder than I thought it would be. I found myself wanting to edit (Romance novels? Dean Koontz? Crime and Punishment?), but what you see are the first titles that came to mind. I'd take any one of these books with me to the proverbial desert island. If I could only pick one? Thankfully, that wasn't the exercise.

Don’t forget to leave me a link. I like sharing.

Surfacing With Updates and a Call For Submissions

I'm not one of those writer/bloggers who posts about my life, my political opinions, my day job, my romances, or illnesses, or crazy relatives.  Why? Because when I started this website, I wanted nothing more than a place to put some work online, available for anyone to read for free. So that's what I've been doing.  It's good being the boss.

I've had positive feedback on the site and plan to someday open the doors to others, putting their work here in an effort to promote quality erotica and those who write it.  In fact, if you have a story you would like me to consider, please send it along.  My only guideline is that your work is literate and have a plot more complex than "some people meet and get it on". Everyone who submits something will get a reply.  Email me at zandervyne (at)

I figure some of you may have noticed that I haven't been posting as much as usual lately, and so I find myself writing my first "what's up with Zander" post. It feels weird, but here goes.

I've gone back to work and am finding it really hampers my blogging time.  I used to consult and write full-time, but consulting has slowed, and I still need to eat.

What does this mean for my writing? Only that it now takes me a bit longer to get things from my brain to the website. I am working on Part Nine of Oliver Ripley and hope to have it finished soon (it's HOT . . . almost all sex and D/s play and intrigue. Shit is totally about to hit the fan for Miranda and Oliver too). I still have a Saint de Sade's story on the back burner, and I am hard at work editing my novel. And I just sold a short story to Cleis Press for an upcoming anthology. So I am busy, just not busy here.  I've also been a bad blog reader but hope to be back at it again soon.  I miss all my regular haunts.

I hope you find plenty to occupy you in my archives, and that you bear with me through this slight slowdown.

And that's that.  Weird how writing like this is so painful and writing fiction is a fun walk in the park. Now I really admire those bloggers who write about nothing but themselves all the time.

Uh Oh

Word to the wise - Don't get up at dawn's crack, tired and cranky, sit down at your computer (without desperately needed coffee) and edit your web site's content. One slip of the finger may lead you, as it has so many others, to delete entire years of content. Thankfully, my stories are safe in the archives. Only most of the original blog introductions are gone. A few remain and those I am posting for you anew, revisiting some old favorites. Remember, I maintain this blog, and publish these stories, to provide a means of communicating with you. My motivation is stimulated by your feedback. Keep that in mind before you read a story and leave without posting a comment. For now, I do not moderate comments and so far have appreciated every single one I have received.

Thanks for reading...


I love flash fiction—complete stories told in a limited amount of words. When I began writing it, I stuck to the 100-word limit ERWA set. The spare format forces a writer to think about every word, every line, and is a great writing exercise.

My love started early; the first flash fiction that blew me away was Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss. He wrote it using only fifty words: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.

Reading that list, 100 words feels positively decadent.

When I set out to write my first flasher, I got to thirty-seven words and felt complete. This is probably the closest thing to a poem I’ve written:

In my sleep
you came, all stillness,
muse-shadowed like night
kissed by the wet tongue of Morpheus

I devoured you there,
painted you under the moon—
velvet lust in red strokes,
silver etchings of tears


Good erotica is not always about pleasure. Sex itself is often not equally pleasing to the body, heart, and mind. We are complex beings with many emotions, like snowflakes, no two alike. Sex can leave you wanting or satiated. Sometimes sex makes you sad. Sometimes, happy.

You might find it as difficult looking at something sexy as you do something distressing. It can be easy to look away and no longer see or recognize your sexuality except in narrowly defined, socially acceptable ways. This is true especially when examining our deepest sexual desires or curiosities and sharing them with others. Sometimes, the sex we really want is plain, complex, or comical. Sometimes, it’s just kinky

If good sex seems in any way unattainable, if our imperfect desires no longer feel beautiful, it is likely because we tend to turn our eyes from things that make us feel vulnerable or alone. The reality is that sex can be anything you like, if only you dare look it right in the eye and open yourself to its possibilities.

Sex is many things, to many people, in many ways. Here, you will read stories exploring the various facets of our sexuality, from the serious to the absurd, the sad to the joyous, and everything in between.

I will not shy away from subjects that might make you squirm. My goal is to create the best stories I can. If you are prudish and I offend, good. If I turn you on, better. If I make you think, nirvana.