A friend sent me a link to a post by Meg Rosoff today. It’s a great post about keeping true to yourself, and essentially not worrying what everyone else is doing, and when it comes to writing, not panicking about word counts, genres, or zeitgeists. If you want to write about Cowboys and Indians, write about Cowboys and Indians. Don’t , for goodness sake, hang up your spurs and your Stetson and start trying to write Forty Five Hues of Not Quite White Not Quite Black.
I write fiction with an emotional, darkish – grey? Good start! – tinge, normal people coping with difficult situations, generally with some sort of crime in the background but not a Detective Inspector in sight. Soft Crime. E L James, bless her gilded stockings, has made a squillion pounds with Soft Porn. I’m clearly missing a trick. I tried writing porn once. I had decided there was a gap in the market – oh yes, this was eight years ago, trend-predictor extraordinaire, no less! I was principally thinking about the film industry. There seemed to be no porn aimed twenty-first century women; narrative-driven tales about inspiring women in control of interesting and well-imagined sex. It was time to get rid of the off-putting, painful sounding moans, those ridiculous open mouths with their bubblegum pink lips, the shaved bits and the money shots. Just write a solid story, add some emotional tension, and get some proper, sensuous but edgy sex involved.
So there I was, sitting in a Spanish airport departures lounge, the kids trying to get their fingers sliced off by the luggage conveyor belt, about to revolutionise the sex industry for women. I picked up from where I’d left off and began to write the saucy bit. I got to ‘his eyes lingered over her. She prickled with anticipation…’ then – oh my! – I got so bored out of my mind I finished the sentence in huge, scrawling capitals: ‘AND THEY DID IT AND IT WAS AWESOME.’
That was the moment I knew the only thing I was going to write were emotional rollercoasters with the odd pool of blood. I’m unlikely to make a gazillion pounds. I’m unlikely to be a global topic of conversation. And, sadly, I’m unlikely to have Michael Fassbender fighting to play my hero in a guaranteed Hollywood sexual blockbuster. But I tell you one thing, I bloody love sitting down to write every day.