I was talking with some colleagues yesterday over coffee and the subject was brought up of “it’s been x years since…”
This got me thinking. This summer it will have been 15 years since I left secondary school with a bag full of ‘A’ levels and got ready to start university. I was a fresh faced (but slightly spotty), floppy haired virgin with not particularly stylish glasses. Yep, you heard right, I was a virgin when I started uni. That soon changed though (wiggles eyebrows) as I ‘enjoyed myself’ at uni—living away from the prying eyes of my parents for the first time, drinking too much, working too little and enjoying the company of one or two select young ladies. Ah, the memories.
It’s also been ten years since I started writing ‘erotica’—although I think the label ‘porn’ would be better for my very early work. Ten years, off and on—I had a couple of sabbaticals, one of them for a few years. Ten years.
It’s been four years this spring since I joined the Fishtank and two years since sold my first story for cold hard cash. I think I’ve come a long way when I look back. When I started writing, I was still floppy haired, but sported a dodgy goatee. And I was a teacher—or at least, I was trying to be. Ten years on and the goatee is gone, the hair is no longer floppy (in fact, it’s starting to recede), and I’m an accounts manager and a father. I do wonder what the next ten years will hold.
Looking back on the ‘way’ I used to write compared to the way I go about things now is interesting. Not so much the process of writing, which I’ve spoken about before on this blog, but rather what I’m writing about.
Those early stories were very much based on my fantasies, memories and a combination of the two. The story “Claire” was a ode to a girl I went to school and fancied like mad, but never got the opportunity to get close to.
The male characters were basically me, or idealised versions of me. The girls in the stories were based on old girlfriends, people I wished had been girlfriends or fantasy girls. The other characters were all unimportant to me—set decoration mostly.
And yet, as time has gone on, my characters have become less versions of real people so much as real people in themselves. Real people that influence me and the story they are in.
Take my June release from Phaze, “Lost & Found”. In the original version of the story, the character of “The Colonel” was merely an obstacle for the two lovers, Beth and Chris, to overcome. He was in their way. He wasn’t a particularly interesting or well rounded character. In fact, I’d go so far as to say he was a stereotype. But as the story has developed in the editing, he’s become much more interesting. I was able to write a few scenes from his point of view. To get ‘in his head’ and really understand what he’s about and what his motivations are. In short, he demanded that I listen to him and put his side of the story across. To paraphrase my editor, he earned my respect. Now, I think he’s probably the most interesting character in the whole piece. In fact, I’m considering writing his back story at some point in the future.
And such is the way my mind is working ten years on. The side characters are becoming as interesting, if not more so, than the leads. The leads are no longer ‘me’ – they are their own people. I’d say I’ve matured. Not just as a writer, but as a person. I understand why I write now—and that can only bode well for the future.