Tuesday, July 18, 2006

“The Last Taboo” – a transcription story

Most of the time, writing a story is a lengthy process for me, involving multiple drafts, maybe an outline, perhaps some research, or just the time to let an idea or a character or an image mature.

But every now and again a story will arrive in my head almost fully formed. Writing it feels more like transcribing something that is being read aloud in my mind.

Recently I’ve had one of these transcription stories, “The Last Taboo” published on the ERWA and I’d like to talk about it a little.

One of the things I’ve noticed about these “transcription” stories is that they are often in the first person and told in the voice of a character. It’s as if they are speaking in my head. Sometimes I find myself listening, wondering what they will say next.

“The Last Taboo” is told from the point of view of “Fat Frank”. All I knew about Frank when I started to write was that he enjoyed having sex with his wife. I let Frank talk and a picture built up of an introspective man who (just about) manages to be one of the lads but whose heart isn’t really in it.

I became curious about the kind of woman he would love and what sex between them would be like. I knew there had to more to it than just lust. She would have to value his introspection but not mirror it. I also knew that there would be something in the sex that would spark the imagination.

Yet it is misleading when I say I knew these things. Certainly I know them now, but as I wrote, it seemed to me that I learnt these things only as Frank shared them with me.

The story took a couple of hours to make first draft and then maybe an hour more to finish. Finishing with these kinds of stories largely consists of reading the story aloud and listening for the things that aren’t true to the voice of the character or that would pass in day to day speech but would grate upon a reader’s sensibilities.

One of the problems with these transcription stories is that, when they are finished, I have great difficulty knowing if they are any good or not. I’ve had too little time to evaluate them. To me they always seem “true” but I have no idea if they are hot or if they will speak to the experience of others.

“The Last Taboo” got good feedback on the ERWA list and was selected for the ERWA site that month, so I figured that it had worked as a story.

Two things told me that it had done more than that. The first was that ERWA put the story in their Treasure Chest section. You’ll find it here.

The second was the email the story attracted. At the same time that “The Last Taboo” was posted I posted “Brave Enough To Cry” – a story it had taken me over a year to put together in fits and starts of activity. I was very pleased when two people took the time to write to me and tell me that they enjoyed it. “The Last Taboo” got eight comments from readers. Now this is a story that has very little actual sex in it and yet people liked it because it either reflected their own secret lives or it depicted a life they wished to have.

I’m still not sure to make of all of this. “The Last Taboo” is not autobiography but it came from somewhere in my head and strikes a chord with people I’ve never met. This points to one of the most exciting and the most demoralizing things about writing: effort is not enough, talent is not enough – to have impact writing has to capture a truth about our lives as we think they are, as we would like them to be or as we fear they might become.

When I write, these truths are not something I create, they are something that I always hunt and only sometimes capture.


Anonymous said...

I did read your story on ERWA..
and enjoyed it immensely. You ARE
my favoite erotica writer !!
Yes...you use great sexual
descriptiveness...but..you also
have substance to what you write.
It all ties together.
Keep writing!!! ML
( my two favorites..are
Deserving Ruth..and My Brother's
Wife....and yes..Coffee Table
Games !! oh that Mary and Susie!

remittance girl said...

One of the reasons I liked the story so much was the fact that it read so fluidly. It doesn't surprise me at all to learn that this was a "transcription" story.

It has become very unfashionable to discuss the presence of morality in literature. I think you are probably one of my favorite erotica authors because it is always present as part of your stories.

I don't mean "Christian" morality. I'm not even talking about good vs evil. I'm just referring to the element of it, present almost always in your stories. Perhaps I mean it in a humanistic sense.

I loved this story. I loved the irony of the title. But then, I've never read anything you've written that I don't admire or wish I could have written myself.