Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The NWWTHYWM Report: Mystery, History, Discovery

We’re more than halfway through National Write Whatever the Hell You Want Month, and I hope that my readers who’ve decided to take the challenge are having a great time writing whatever the hell you want!

As I mentioned in my first post on this topic, I realized that the first thing I needed to do was quiet down all the internal voices telling me to produce and “achieve” and meet some external standard and just listen to my imagination. This has proved to be a key to getting back in touch with what I want to write.

Now many writers who’ve commented on the NWWTHYWM project have mentioned that they always write what they want. This got me thinking a bit about my own process. I can honestly say I have never written a story that I feel is false to my creative values. There is always something in each story that sparks me, a mystery to explore, no matter how limited the word count or how carefully tailored to a theme. What I’ve decided to do moving forward is to pay attention to the source of that excitement and nurture it. In allowing my imagination to speak, I’ve come up with a list of story ideas that have that initial spark of mystery. Just looking at the list is inspiring, so I already consider NWWTHYWM a personal success.

Another “indulgence” I’m allowing myself in this project is to explore stories and prompts beyond erotica. Oddly enough, one of the first things that popped into my mind when I told myself, “Hey, go ahead and write about whatever the hell you want,” were these little holiday-themed candles that my family used to buy at Woolworth’s for ten to fifteen cents back in the 1960’s. Thanks to the internet, I discovered they were made my a company called Gurley, which is out of business, but sold its molds to The Vermont Country Store, which is reissuing some of the candles. I guess I’m not alone in my nostalgia, although the prices have gone up significantly over the decades!

It’s not exactly that I see myself writing a series of stories about holiday figure candles, but serendipitously, I happened to be reading a book my son’s improv teacher recommended, Impro: Improvisition and the Theatre by Keith Johnstone. I’m finding the book to be very relevant to fiction writing as well, and Johnstone’s chapter on “Spontaneity” gave me a hint as to why the holiday candles might have a deeper message for me. Johnstone is not a fan of traditional education, having experienced the worst of it in 1950's Britain, although the emphasis on conformity is still the same in twenty-first century America. He points out that teachers consider children as immature adults, but that we might have better and more respectful teaching if we considered adults as atrophied children. To create something vital tends to mean working against our official education (and all those books I read on writing stories that sell.) Perhaps those candles are a message to me to get back in touch with my childish wonder about life’s magic?

In mulling over what I really want to write about, I was also able to acknowledge that a lot of the stories I want to write involve going back in time and recreating a lost age. I guess you’d call that historical fiction, but with my own personal twist. For some reason, my efforts to go back in time in my stories have not been particularly successful in terms of a sale. Perhaps it’s because my historical fiction does not fit into a conventional slot—dukes and carriages and arranged marriages and so on, although I like a costume drama as much as the next Masterpiece Theatre fan. On some subconscious level, I think I’ve been telling myself to stay away from such themes because editors don’t like them.

I’m going to stop telling myself such things and see what happens, not just for this month but for the whole damned year.

Last but not least, I’ve decided that every March I will take a few days or a few weeks or the whole month—whatever I need—to check in with my “childish” imagination and see if it’s happy, nourished, pointed on the right path. I am tempted to say I should do this all the time, which is a noble plan, but if the Gurley candles are any indication, there is something enchanting about annual traditions.

If you’ve made any discoveries this month, please do share them here or at the NWWTHYWM page. Let’s inspire each other!

Donna George Storey is the author of Amorous Woman (recently released as an ebook) and a new collection of short stories, Mammoth Presents the Best of Donna George Storey. Learn more about her work at or


  1. Hi, Donna!

    I love the insight that you're writing "historical fiction". Having read quite a number of your stories, I know exactly what you're talking about. I do it too, though less now than when I began writing - trying to recapture the elusive magic of one's early explorations in flesh and spirit.

    As for NWWTHYWM, I caved and revised my novel to try and meet my publisher's requirements. I feel like a sell out. However, I concluded that I probably couldn't sell it as is, because it depended very heavily on the original story that introduces the characters. And I sure as hell wasn't going to toss four months of work!

  2. My first reaction is--you DID write what you wanted to write to save your work. I'm sure that the novel still has that Lisabet sensibility no matter what the official plot, which is why we love your stories, so all is well. I find it interesting that we all have a bit of resistance to "write whatever you want" means and look for the NaNoWriMo "rules." There aren't any!


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