Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Writers Group - A Feeling Of Belonging


Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and four cats.

I went to my first meeting with a local writers group recently. The last time I was in a writers group was at least thirty years ago. I must have driven past the place hundreds of times, but I never noticed it. It's a little hideaway tucked into a corner. I like to take the scenic route home occasionally, driving past the rocky beaches next to the ocean. This writers group is along that route. My husband and I were going for a drive, when he noticed the sign on the building. I must have tunnel vision or something, since I have never noticed it before.

I would love to join a writers group, especially a local one. I live over an hour from most writers groups in this area, and I simply didn't want to do all that driving. This one is ten minutes away. I couldn't resist.

One major disadvantage in my mind in being a writer is that it is so isolating. I have my writer friends on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet, but I wanted to be around real, live, breathing people. Make eye contact. Smell cologne and perfume. Speak in real time. Mingle in meat space. I craved companionship. I can't speak for all writers, of course, but I wanted to belong to a group of people with similar interests. I also wanted to belong to a group of people who could help me in my writing career.

Now... my main worry was what would the members think of erotica writers? I had already visited the web site, and I saw lots of notices about readings for poetry and literary fiction. Would I fit in? I also write horror, dark fiction, and fantasy. Would dismembered bodies go over better than erect penises? I had no idea, but I was willing to risk it. I'm not ashamed of what I write, but I do want to be accepted and I want approval. I want praise for a job well done, and I want people to show interest in my work.

I worried about disapproval, but I sucked it up and went to a poetry reading I saw listed on the calendar.

I had a blast.

There were about twenty people present. I was one of several new people, and I was welcomed with open arms. Most members were over sixty. I didn't talk much about myself except to say I was a writer, I lived in town, and I have been looking for a writers group for some time. I mostly asked everyone else about themselves. When I told one woman I wrote human sexuality articles for a sex toys company in London as well as erotica, she gave me "the look" (most erotica writers probably know what I'm talking about), but once I explained a bit further, she had shown interest. Several others reacted in a similar fashion. At the very least, I piqued their curiosity.

Despite my fears, I fit in. I felt welcome. That meant a great deal to me. A man read some of his poetry, and I enjoyed myself. It felt good being in a group of pleasant people. I shared wine and conversation out in the back yard after dark in a very relaxed atmosphere. Not only did I feel welcome, I welcomed them into my world.

I wonder how many erotica writers are slightly embarrassed over what they write? I've heard plenty of horror stories from my Facebook writer friends of family who disapprove of their sexy stories. Some have chosen pseudonyms to protect their jobs, especially if they teach young children. These writers don't get much support from their friends and family, which may make the isolation some writers experience more distressing.

The next event I'll attend is an open reading for anyone who wants to read aloud - an open mike night. I'm not quite ready to read yet. I'd rather get to know everyone better first before I drop my smut on them, but I'll bring a little something along in case I feel brave and decide to read anyway. My stage fright isn't only about reading erotica. It's about reading any of my works aloud. How many writers feel a lack of confidence over what they write? I chose the perfect story to read if I decide to do it. It's sensual and even poetic. I have a feeling it will be praised, and I like basking in friendship. Groucho might have said he'd never be a part of any club that would have him as a member, but that's not for me. Even though I'm a loner at heart, it feels good to belong.


6 comments:

  1. Elizabeth,

    Fantastic post. I do a lot of work with writers, poets and writing groups and I find the support of peers can be of enormous help to some writers.

    I hope this group works out to your satisfaction.

    Ash

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  2. Thank you, Ash. I know not all writers would benefit from writers groups, but plenty would. I guess I'm one of them. There's a dinner with writers at the end of August I may go to, mainly to schmooze with other writers. I hope writers who are considering joining a writers group get some insight from my post.

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  3. Hi, Elizabeth,

    If you want to feel isolated, try living overseas in a conservative country, with a 12 hour time difference between me and the east coast of the US!

    I did spend about 8 months living in NYC before we moved to Asia, and had the chance to meet some erotica authors in the flesh. It was a blast!

    I envy you. Have fun at the reading.

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  4. Oh, no, Lisabet! I can't even begin to imagine what that's like. It's definitely fun meeting authors in the flesh. I do that at conventions. I will have fun at the reading, too. Thank you!

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  5. Hey Elizabeth,
    I currently attend a local writer's group under about the same circumstances as you. I found that it can be very motivating when I listen to the ideas of others. Sounds like you are doing the right thing in being cautious though. When I finally admitted to the group (felt like AA) that I wrote some erotica along with mystery and speculative fiction, they took it well. One even agreed to do some beta reading. Problem was, she brought my manuscript with her to the doctors office and became quite embarrassed while reading a steamy scene. I took that as approval to my work but she hasn't agreed to read anything else since.

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  6. Hi, Ellison! That's one reason I'm going - the motivation. LOL I get the AA feeling. I'll test the waters again at the next meeting to see how others react to my erotic writing. It always seems to be a crapshoot how people will react to it. I'll just take it with a sense of humor. That helps lighten things up in my case. So sorry she hasn't agreed to read anything else. I hope maybe she'll read something else of yours in the future.

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