On this week’s show, I present the readings from the book release party for Condoms and Hot Tubs Don’t Mix.
On this week’s show, I present the readings from the book release party for Condoms and Hot Tubs Don’t Mix.
This week features our 5th annual Erotic Poetry Night, featuring…
This week features our 4th annual Erotic Poetry Night, featuring Jesse Bradley, Teege Braune, Stephanie Rizzo, Danielle Kessinger, Amy Watkins, David James Poissant, Ashley Inguanta, Sarah Viren, and (ahem) John King.
Get tickets for Litlando here.
On Top of It #15 by Lisa Martens
Freelance Growing Pains
I now have two jobs, neither of which really have to do with creative writing—I do customer support for a dating site, and manage reservations for a belly dancing school. I’ve seen lots of dick pics and shimmies.
While in grad school, I attempted freelance writing work to support myself. It worked about as well as milking a turnip with a magnet. Here is what I learned about trying to charge for writing:
Even if you have a Masters, people expect you to work for free.
No one expects you to work in a fast food restaurant for free. No one expects someone to cut their lawn for “experience.” They may pay shit, but they know they have to pay something. Not so with writing. I was offered “exposure” and “the potential for future work.” Yay?
Fight for your writing. Ask for some money upfront, and, if the work is long or time-consuming, hand over most of it and withhold some until you get your final payment. Let clients go if they’re not willing to pay you. Those aren’t clients. They’re moochers.
Will you lose opportunities? They may want you to think that, but think about how much sludge and content is on the Internet. You creating someone’s content for free is not going to be your golden ticket. Working for free is an opportunity for them, not you. Also, every person I let go for not paying me eventually came back offering money.
There’s a lot of money in ghostwriting Literotica.
If you don’t mind slapping another name on your work, you can make a pretty penny. I tried; I really tried. But when the proposal was to write a series about a woman sitting on faces in public, I couldn’t help but laugh. I couldn’t write about that and take it seriously. The story would be laden with farts.
If you can suck it up, or even enjoy it, then do it.
Make templates for SEO-style corporate blog posts.
When creating shitty listicles and blog posts for corporations, it helps to have a template that you just drop buzz words and random facts from the Internet into. It saves you time and gives a kind of uniformity to your content. It’s not good or innovative writing, but if you think about it, how often do you read “24 Child Stars Who Are Ugly Now” and expect an innovative style?
Don’t spend too much time on it.
Do not spend two hours on a 300-word blog post. Do not overthink. Do not put five hours of work into something you’re getting $10 to do. Always do the math and make sure you’re making at least minimum wage. If you’re not, then you either have to charge more, or make better use of your time.
Minimum wage is the ruler I used to use. If you’re making less than that, what the hell is the point of what you’re doing? Go apply to Starbucks.
Niches are nice.
When working freelance, a lot of work is one and done. This means you have to be strategic in your portfolio and build up your own niche. No one is going to promote you or offer you more money. You have to show that you deserve more money. So instead of applying for every low-paying gig under the sun, start with your niche and search for work related to it. You can build a name for yourself as the SEO monster, the Amazon indie literotica mogul, or the celebrity list-creator. But not all of the above.
Give up and get a remote full time job.
This is what I did. My job lets me work anywhere where there’s Internet access, which was the main reason why I wanted to do freelance. I set my own hours now and work from a number of coffee houses, buses and trains. For me, the whole appeal of freelance was not having to go somewhere at a set time, and have more free time to pursue my writing and other hobbies (belly dancing).
Has anyone here done freelance work? What have you learned and how has it gone?
Lisa Martens (Episode 22) currently lives in Harlem. In her past 10 years in New York, she has lived in a garage on Long Island, a living room in Hell’s Kitchen, the architecture building of CCNY, and on the couch of a startup. She grew up in New York, Costa Rica and Texas, and she’s still not sure which of these is home. She completed her MFA in Creative Writing from CCNY. Her thesis, What Grows in Heavy Rain, is available on Amazon. Check out her website here. Follow her on Instagram here.
Heroes Never Rust #85 by Sean Ironman
A great deal occurs in the third issue of Watchmen. Laurie and Dan get their taste for superheroics reinvigorated when they are jumped in an alley. Doctor Manhattan is confronted on television for allegedly giving cancer to people around him due to his super powers. He leaves Earth for Mars. Rorschach continues with his theory that someone is trying to plot against the superheroes. But, the scene that sticks out to me as the most interesting is Doctor Manhattan’s sex scene with Laurie toward the beginning.
The scene opens with Doctor Manhattan’s blue hands touching Laurie’s face. Then, a third hand appears. Freaked out, Laurie screams and the sex stops. Two Doctor Manhattans are in bed with her. When she goes to another room in their house, she spots a third Doctor Manhattan in some sort of a lab—his office, I presume. Laurie, upset that her boyfriend thinks so little of loving her that he duplicates himself so that he can continue his work, storms out. It’s a short scene, only two pages, but it’s a vital one that helps develop both characters and moves the plot along, giving Doctor Manhattan no reason to remain on Earth after Laurie leaves him.
Sex can be difficult for some readers to get through in a story. It’s not for me (as a writer or a reader) so sometimes I’m confused by certain readers’ responses to stories featuring sex. I can understand when readers feel sex scenes are gratuitous, and I feel the same in certain works, True Blood, for example. But, gratuitous can go for any type of scene. A conversation can be gratuitous. A gratuitous scene goes overboard long after the scene accomplishes what it was meant to accomplish for the story. If a conversation goes on too long, then it is gratuitous. The same with an action scene. Any scene. Of course, there are gratuitous sex scenes. But, just because sex is present doesn’t meant the scene is gratuitous.
First, there is little nudity in the sex scene in issue three. Laurie pulls the covers up. The reader knows she is naked, but showing her breasts would be gratuitous here. Readers are shown Doctor Manhattan’s ass, but he spends the majority of Watchmen nude, so that doesn’t really count. The scene is shown knowing full well that most people view sex as an intimate act. It’s personal. And because most readers would agree with that idea, the scene works well. Doctor Manhattan has become so distant from his humanity that he cannot even be present when making love to his girlfriend. If readers did not view sex as a personal and private act, they might very well agree with Doctor Manhattan as Laurie complains and storms out. Instead, readers are able to understand that Doctor Manhattan has become less interested in human acts. He would rather stick to his experiments. During the argument, Laurie throws a beaker filled with some sort of liquid at Doctor Manhattan. It smashes on the counter, spilling its contents. As one Doctor Manhattan tells Laurie he is prepared to discuss why she is angry, another duplicate fixes the mess and recreates the beaker and liquid. Even as he is fighting with girlfriend, his mind is really on his experiment.
Second, the sex portion of this scene is only in three panels (four if you count the larger panel of Laurie pulling away from the two Doctor Manhattans). Twelve panels show the argument and Laurie storming out. The sex is not the important aspect of the scene. (When are the physical actions of a scene the most important aspect? Most of the time it’s the mental or emotional responses of the characters.) The sex is presented to get to Laurie storming out. She can only stand so much of Doctor Manhattan not caring. In an act as intimate as sex, she needs him to care. To want to be there with her in the moment. The sex that is shown is only a close-up of Doctor Manhattan’s hands on Laurie’s face. It’s enough to have the reader understand what is going on, but that’s where the sex ends. Once a reader understands the choreography of a scene, the scene can focus on character development, show reflection, or show internal thoughts. Beyond that, a scene can become gratuitous.
Watchmen is a book for adults. In my opinion, if one is writing for an adult audience, nothing is off limits. Adults can handle it. If they can’t, then they need to take a look at their life. Hiding away from what’s in the world is not in the interest of art. At some point in the creative process, a writer must consider their audience. I don’t mean pandering to their audience. But, a writer should ask himself or herself who they are writing toward. I read Watchmen the first time when I was eighteen. Perhaps I could have read it a couple of years younger, but to truly appreciate it, readers must be mature. If I read Watchmen back when I was only reading X-Men comics and discussing them with neighborhood friends in my parents’ driveway, I would have hated it. Including sex in adult stories is not a necessity, but it does allow a writer to connect to readers and to get readers to think about an idea in a different way. I spent my childhood reading superhero comics, and when I read Watchmen, I finally understood what it would mean to have superpowers. Watchmen places superheroes in the real world—the comic makes them relatable. We have sex, and so do the superheroes.
Sean Ironman (Episode 102) earned his MFA at the University of Central Florida. Currently, he teaches creative nonfiction and digital media at the University of Central Arkansas as a visiting professor. His work can be read in The Writer’s Chronicle, Redivider, and Breakers: A Comics Anthology, among others.
This week features our third annual Erotic Poetry Night,
Genevieve Anna Tyrrell
Many thanks to our most excellent venue,
Check out Wilson Santos’ Dominican Republic project, including how to donate, here.
Check out Orlando Shakes’ wonderfully colorful production of Merry Wives, which runs from February 4 to March 7, 2015.
This week, I present our first live show of the year, from our night of Erotic Poetry, as either a prelude or an antidote to Valentine’s Day, according to taste.
The Heaven of Animals, the forthcoming collection from friend-of-the-show David James Poissant, is available for pre-order. Please support the launch of his book, which is wonderful reading.
On this week’s show, I answer some mail with my friend, David James Poissant,
On this week’s show, I talk to the novelist Kalliope Lee,
plus Scott Hoffman talks about John Demos’s The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America.
Until Tuesday, September 17th, 8 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, you can get a free ebook of Sunday Girl by going to smashwords, searching for Sunday Girl, and entering the code CV74V.
The Taming of the Shrew runs September 11th through October 6th at Orlando Shakespeare Theater. Get tickets here.
An author’s first duty is to let down his country.
See my Pinupalooza photos here.