Today is the official start of my sixth LitReactor erotica writing class, and I'm thrilled to be back. While it's a major immersion in the genre for my students, for me it's an immersion in doing something I love that is a wonderful complement to the loneliness of writing: working with other people. I am first and foremost a people person, and my erotica work has always involved working with others. From the very first short story I published, I didn't want the words to just live between the pages of a book, but to come alive in the air, so I organized a reading at New York's Bluestockings back in, I believe, 2001, for Best Lesbian Erotica 2001.
What's great about teaching online is that I am not limited to working with people in a specific geographic location. Students from around the world have taken my LitReactor class and shared knowledge of how sexuality works where they live that has helped inform others' stories. It's a space where camaraderie rules and people get intimate on the page in ways, I'm pretty sure, they didn't expect to.
I think back to the first online class I taught, which was only in 2014, but I admit I was incredibly nervous. I wasn't sure how what I had taught in person dozens of times would translate online. What I found was that I actually love the process of teaching online because there's more time to connect, think, experiment, write and learn. Students aren't stuck with only a few minutes to write the first thing that pops into their mind (which is a process that has value in itself). They can allow their imaginations to take flight, work on recurring characters if they choose, get detailed feedback not just on a few minutes' or writing but on completed stories, and spend quality time with their work. It's now my preferred method of teaching and where I will be focusing my efforts this year and beyond, because I believe I can offer the best of the knowledge I have in that form. That's not to diminish the work I do in live workshops, but I'm convinced that for me, online teaching is where I can have the most impact, connect with the most students from the widest range of places, and provide the most steady encouragement, support and tools to help writers go deeper and flesh out their erotica.
I'm at work on a website that will expand on my offerings as a writing coach and teacher, informed by what I've learned in these classes and working with private clients. It's a leap for me to focus on that arena, but since just this morning I got an email from a student who sold an erotica story, it feels like the right leap. For the next four weeks, I'll be devoted to my LitReactor class, but stay tuned here, in my newsletter and on my Facebook page, where I'll be sharing relevant advice, links and helpful hints for writers. I admit this year has been off to a somewhat rocky start for me in a lot of ways, with much upheaval and it's taken me a while to get my bearings, but today, I feel like I'm very clear on where I want to go and what I want to be doing.