Rationally, now; not very emotionally, not in the depths of depression, I am asking myself if I should quit writing. It wouldn’t be easy, I know, but I do have the capacity to ‘walk away’ from things if they become too great a threat to my peace of mind. It’s a habit I learned, apparently, from the father who walked away from me more than half a century ago.
The odds of winning the UK national lottery are, I’m informed, about 1 in 14 million. Not good odds. But then, it seems that Amazon hosts some four million e-books and, to me, 1 in 4 million doesn’t actually sound all that good either.
I’ve had two books published, of course. “Aphrodite Overboard” and “Islands”. Both have had some excellent reviews, in fairness, but it’s a long time since I heard anything about “Aphrodite” from her publishers, so it’s pretty clear she’s not selling, and the publishers of “Islands” have just offered to return the rights of the book to me. Seems it sold a whole two copies in 2015.
Writing in support of a particular Weltanschauung, or world view, my books have not stuck to one theme and nor, indeed, do my works-in-putative-progress. To the heterosexual castaway Aphrodite, the Lady Susanna, elevated to the status of goddess, comes routine cunnilingus from male and female worshippers, and endless intimacy with her lovely female acolytes and the man she ultimately marries. To the hetero Tom Carton, of “Islands” comes the affection of a co-castaway, a young, gay sailor, in a gentle touch of m/m, and an equally deep and profound affection for a liberated, black, female slave. MF/FF in the first, MMLite and MF in the second.
If my WIPP “Sword” novel comes to fruition it will be a historical action adventure, set in the early 1700s, with intimate MF and FF interaction, whilst that which I shall for now call merely “Angel” is a mid-19th century Victorian story with a fundamentally FF base.
So they don’t really hang together. Even if one of the few who had read “Aphrodite Overboard” were motivated by it to look for something else of mine, they would not necessarily look in the direction of “Islands”.
Where, then, from here? I could take the highly recommended Indie road, of course, but it’s a fact that I haven’t a snowball-in-Hell’s chance of being able to pay an editor or anyone else to write with me. And if I go it alone the fundamental facts remain the same. I have two novels which, given my own impostor syndrome, may not actually be that much good and which may, anyway, if various kind folks who have referred to them as ‘literary’ are correct may be too literary for the bulk of an audience which – according to one of my publishers – is quite content to settle routinely for work she describes as ‘sub literate’.
It doesn’t matter that my Weltanschauung is Feminist, pro-LGBT, pro sex, pro intimacy, pro kindness and all the rest.
So, is there really any point?
I thought reviewing books would be easier and perhaps more fun than critiquing first drafts. Just read a book that seemed to me to have so many errors and typos in it that it might have been a first draft. So now what do I do? Potentially upset the author/publisher? Leave other readers to be potentially disappointed? For all I know this might be the standard they’re used to.
I hope not. Guess time will tell
There are places in my homeland where ‘come again’ is a request to reiterate something already said, an alternative to ‘repeat please?’ or the more military ‘say again?’.
Without the question mark, of course, it’s what most of us hope to do between the sheets after a particularly happy bout of horizontal jogging.
In my case… well, I’ve kind of ‘come again’. Come again to writing.
After the joy of seeing “Aphrodite Overboard” in print some years ago, time and opportunity have not been on my side. Short stories of mine have appeared in a number of print and e-anthologies, including Renaissance’s “Pirate Booty”, Maxim Jakubowski’s “Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 5” and his “Quick and Dirty” collection, and Sacchi Green’s “Lesbian Cops”.
At any moment now, and you’ll be the first to know, Renaissance are about to publish my latest novel, “Islands”. Cover art and further details will be made available shortly.
There is so much more for me to write, so much written that has not yet been seen or has been briefly seen and vanished into the ether. My hope and ambition is that folks with gentle minds, erotic minds, loving minds, will come to read very much more, very, very soon.
Prejudice. I could come out as gay, I could come out as transgender; why can’t I come out as an erotica writer?
I have wanted to write since my childhood. Fortuitously good at English, perhaps because my father was something of a stickler for it and because I seem to have inherited by far the larger part of his nature, I loved to read. And lonely, writers became my friends. Certain writers – Dickens, HG Wells, Jules Verne, Kipling, the naturalist Gerald Durrell, C S Forester and others – I could always trust. They would invite me, by no more than getting into print, to read their stories, and I would read them with awe, with gladness and with a sense that with people like these around the world could not be such a terrible place as it often seemed.
I learned a lot, without endeavouring to, experienced a lot of pleasure, travelled to exotic places I could never afford to visit and achieved the yet physically impossible by traveling in time.
They made me laugh, they made me cry, they made me think, and I loved them for it.
I wondered, as a young teen, if there would be any stories left to tell when I became an adult, but I wanted to become one of those friends of the world, one of those people who made a contribution, who made people cry, laugh and think.
Oddly, I first made them orgasm. Or helped them to.
Even as a child I loved females. Maybe it was because my mother remained when my father abandoned us, or maybe it was just because whatever programming makes us male kicked in pretty early. I know I was about 11 when I discovered (being already something of an artist) that a nicely rounded ‘w’ made a pretty effective female bottom, and so rapt was I with this discovery that I chalked them on endless paving stones in my then home town of Dewsbury, Yorkshire.
I didn’t know much else. Before I’d sufficient pubic hair to resemble a resting spider I once encountered a graffitoed penis drawn in remarkable detail. Oddly, thinking back, it was drawn recumbent, and I was then so ignorant of women that I presumed they were similarly equipped and was perplexed by the idea that congress between male and female must somehow involve the connection of two of these limp, flaccid tubes.
Nor can you much blame me, let’s face it. I encountered the drawing before I encountered girlie magazines, and at the time that the latter came into my life it was an offence to show pubic hair in images, so that the rare frontal nude was both bald and uncloven.
Instead photographers conspired to create images in which the female pudendum was hidden. Mirrors were popular, especially on dressing tables, for then the lovely arse could be shown directly and the breasts and face reflected. Clinging onto and otherwise hiding behind static objects was another ruse, the models often peering from behind them so that only the upper torso was visible. Bottoms, though, were the primary focus. I have not yet worked out for sure if it was that, or the lately remembered conceit (by my demented mother) that my granny had a bakery, which has led to my lifelong obsession with ‘buns’.
They remain a strong focus still, though my first forays and first discoveries of the oft brittle-haired quim have raised that at least as high as an object of adoration.
An unbeliever, for a long time and of firm conviction, it is the female body and in particular that which I can only call the female spirit which most strongly argues the possibility of God. There is nothing in the world more beautiful, more precious.
It pisses me off, now, that, having reached a certain age, I cannot freely express my appreciation of feminine beauty. I walk into the National Gallery or some such home of great ‘art’ and I look at the paintings with pleasure and awe. Yet what would I choose to rescue, should the place burst into flames? Not my favourite, beloved Turner, nor the sweet portrait of a girl by Elisabeth Vigee Lebrun, but one of those beautiful visiting tourists. It is they who are truly irreplaceable, and worth more than the millions even the Turner would fetch.
So I grew to love women and to love writing, and I grew up and encountered sex, though, to be fair, it was not at first the most exciting sex you could imagine. Far from it.
And “Write what you know”, they said, and what did I know, by the time writing became a real option, but women and sex? And what, too, was there a market for, largely thanks to the internet?
So I began to write sex.
My views on human sexuality are not those of the majority, and certainly not those of the repressed and religious. I have genuine, profound beliefs, according to which I try to live, and some of those beliefs are disinclined towards traditional ideas and expectations.
So I began to write what I perceived as the truth. I chose the name R V Raiment, the ‘V Raiment’ making ‘vraiment’ or ‘truly’, and signed myself thereafter, in effect, as ‘Richard Truly’. Truth is of vast importance to me.
I don’t buy girlie magazines – haven’t since I was a teenager – and have never watched a striptease, a lapdance or a pornographic video. I don’t really read erotica either, unless it is to critique it, and that is because I need nothing more than my own imagination and, these days, I have a hard enough time even imagining any more. Whilst I am certainly not, the world sees me as largely ‘past it’, and I cannot live my truth. Nobody really wants it. Men continue to be men, and continue, too often, to make me ashamed of them, and women continue to seek husbands and providers, exclusivity and all the rest. It’s not my way. Not really. It’s not what I believe in.
So I write my beliefs and some people read them, and some people think they’re well written. Some people – not that anyone has actually complained – would find what I write ‘pornographic’, but that’s a point of view I’d strongly contradict. And I guess what I write can’t be so very pornographic, because if it was it would sell a lot better than it does.
So I have written erotica, for almost a decade. I have tried to warm peoples’ hearts and their loins, and sometimes I’ve succeeded and sometimes it’s been joyous, and I have always written with love and affection, for sex, for humanity and the world.
Odd, then, that as I point out in my title, I must, by and large, keep my writing a secret, must hide behind the anonymity of a pen name.
Were I gay I could say so, transgendered, transexual, transvestite or anything else, I could make it known among friends, colleagues and acquaintances and I could look for tolerance, regard, sympathy, even respect. Not so as a writer.
It is not as if I live, or have ever lived, in an area dominated by Christian or other fundamentalists. I live in a country famous for its liberality and its openness.
I had my first successes as a writer, quite coincidentally, not long after I had taken up employment in a primary school (4 to 11 year olds) as a Teaching Assistant. I worked closely with one female colleague, a broad-minded lady who made no secret of the fact that she quite admired my butt, and I shared with her the fact that I had been published – on line, as it happens – for the first time. She had another female colleague who caught on, expressed an interest and, having read one of my early stories, dismissed it as being “not raunchy enough for her tastes”.
Not very long afterwards I was summoned to the Head Teacher/Principal’s office and advised – in the most friendly and broad-minded manner – that I should be more careful in whom I confided. Someone had overheard. Two someones, in a matter of hours, had visited her deputy and raised a question as to whether ‘someone like me’ should be ‘allowed to work with children’. Someone like me, that is, who writes entirely about love and sex between adults for adults and who would never, ever, allow a child to see anything I wrote.
Necessity took me to a different part of the country and to a High School, with pupils aged 11 to 18 or so. I made no secret, initially, of what I wrote, but again made entirely sure that no student would ever be able to find my work and read it. It would not be appropriate.
In what I took to be a world of adults there was created a ‘book exchange’. Staff were to place in a box books they had read and enjoyed and to borrow from it books they had not yet read and enjoyed. Since this was supervised by the librarian I asked her if she thought it would be inappropriate for me to contribute one of my adult books to the box. She said yes, why not?
Within hours of my placing the book in its receptacle my manager was visited by a member of staff, the staff-room smutmeister, the fount of blue jokes and double entendres, who questioned whether my having placed the book there might have ‘unfortunate consequences’. Within a very short space of time the book simply disappeared.
It’s possible, of course, that someone took it and liked it so much that they kept it, but it is far more likely, I know, to have been abstracted from the box by someone who really did not like it and who decided that it should not be there. It has, I do not doubt, been censored, and by someone who had not the nerve – assuming they knew that I wrote it – to discuss their issue with me. I can only hope they burned it, for that is the next logical step and it would be in good company.
And whether it is my imagination or not, it seems to me that my relationships with female staff have become more guarded, on their part.
If I wrote murder mysteries, or horror fiction, if I wrote texts that were steeped in blood, gore and terror, I don’t imagine anyone would suspect me of considering them as murder victims or expect me to invade their lives with a chainsaw. But it seems that because I write about sex, I am dangerous.
Strange. An artist, and a man of considerable experience, there is very little about the female body that I do not know, and my facility for stripping a woman naked with my eyes accords with that knowledge, yet it is something I do not do – unless, as in advertising and certain movies, I am invited to. I have too much respect – far too much respect – and I am too much in awe of feminine beauty, find it too sacred, to do anything so crass and ugly.
I treasure, adore and worship the beauty, physical, intellectual and spiritual, of women, and am the least dangerous man any woman can meet. Yet my writing, it seems, makes me otherwise, forces me, in the main, to hide behind my pen name.
I find that sad.