Writing, by its very nature, is a lonely, usually solitary experience. I'm living in a town where aside from my boyfriend, I don't know anyone who lives here, and only have a handful of friends nearby. Yet I like the solitude, had been craving it amidst the overly busy seemingly must-attend functions in New York. I'm not the type who's easily able to say "sorry, I can't hang out, I have to write." It always sounds rude and narcissistic and untrue. And maybe it is rude and narcissistic but it actually is true. My point is, I like that I have all day to myself, even though I am working to find ways to force myself to actually write. And no, I didn't get paid for that piece, from Medium or Salon, which reprinted it. Not that it's anyone's business, but after reading Noah Davis's great piece at The Awl, I felt the need to (over)share. Some would consider that a mortal writing sin, and if you do, stop reading now because, news flash, I am not getting paid to write this blog. For me, it was selfish, as all writing is. A way to say something and also to make myself feel better about the last few weeks and most of this year's malaise, by getting something out there. I don't plan to make a habit of writing for free, though I may do it on occasion. I make no bones about being selfish, though I also do my best to give back by supporting books and authors I like in every way I can. Hopefully it balances out, but without indulging that selfishness and pushing myself and trying to say what feels unsayable on the page, I wouldn't have anything to give. Or maybe I would for a while, but then I'd feel hollowed out. Writing fills me back up in a way nothing else does.
So writing is lonely, but my job as an erotica editor, my former role as a reading series host, and just my inherent nature are social. Pretty much everything I do is based on relationships I've formed over a long time, since I started writing erotica in 1999. I never found those mentor-like or peer relationships in law school. Maybe I felt outclassed and alienated so didn't look for them. But I have found them in the erotica community, in New York, and in cities where I've done readings, and online, on Twitter and Facebook. I've found it through publishing authors from around the world and reading submissions from even more of them. I'm proud to be part of that community, and all the more so because recently the erotica and queer/LGBT community have come together to combat cancer. Not in an abstract save-the-world science-based way, but in a this-person-is-dealing-with-cancer-and-needs-our-help-immediately kind of way.
Alison Tyler is editing a summer erotica themed anthology, with the proceeds going to writer Sommer Marsden, whose husband was recently diagnosed with cancer, to help offset the costs of cancer. The deadline is August 1st. I submitted a story I wrote this morning, which was also a great exercise in brevity and again, got me writing, which is sometimes the hardest thing for me--getting started. When I speak of the "erotica community," please know that I don't think there's any criteria for joining that community, except wanting to, being interested. You don't need to "be a writer" (whatever the hell that means!) to write erotica or anything else, and you don't need to write anything to help show your support (see the "diagnosed with cancer" link above to donate directly).
Writer Kate Bornstein, author of the clasic and newly revised My Gender Workbook, the amazing Scientology memoir A Queer and Pleasant Danger, the life-affirming Hello, Cruel World and many other books, has been battling cancer and it looks like she's winning. The latest news: "1) There are no new cancer cells in my body and 2) The places where there was cancer have shrunk a LOT already." This was made possible by the medical community and, that supposedly dirty but also necessary to live word, money. Namely, $111,518 raised by 2,913 people, as of this post. You could add to that number, and any donation is not only greatly appreciated but put to good use. Right here, right now. You can read more at the link.
And I know not everyone has money to donate; certainly, the last few weeks and months, I haven't. But you can write something, which can be both a selfish and giving act, you can spread the word, you can say a prayer or let other people know or simply follow the work of these writers (@sommer_marsden and @katebornstein on Twitter).
So yes, writing is lonely, but it is also filled with amazing people, who I wouldn't know without writing.