Yesterday, I got up and put butt in seat to crank out 8K and complete my fallen angel WIP. It felt good…for all of two minutes. This one isn’t really my fault, though. It was more a combination of twitter news about kids. Strike one was reading about a little boy whose cat was killed by bureaucrats because they couldn’t be bothered to leave a note on the cage at the shelter. Then I read a story of how a baby in the UK starved to death because the social services agencies had tossed the kid off in the paper sea. And strike three was reading a report about the rise of child slavery and sex trafficking in America, where fully 80% of the victims are American kids pimped out by their parents.
This of course led me to think that this story is the very reason why I wrote Peter the Wolf. Because, wanting to say something about my friend Cherry and the way she’d been pimped by her grandmother, I felt that I would have trouble getting people to believe a girl that badly abused would grow into a sex-obsessed nymphomaniac. (Cherry had a HUGE porn collection, and people were always telling the guys she lived with “good job” for it. They got confused to learn a woman collected all this porn.) So I made Peter male, and was still told “that’s unrealistic, having someone think of sex all the time.” Well, seeing as how I lived with the real wolf, and she liked sex 3 times a day or she wasn’t happy, I thought my toned-down male version of her was pretty tame.
The muse kicked me in the gut by declaring that the new story “betrays all our goals.” I don’t know what to say to her. I have lots of stories that aren’t like Peter the Wolf, and my goal at this point is, I just want a story that people will read.
Until she decided to kick this story for being too mainstream, she was LOVING it. It has a heroine who’s a big girl, a weightlifter who doesn’t need to be rescued. It has a great mystery plot about fallen angels, and it has a nice amount of romance without the guy being too stalkery or controlling. It even has Lucifer in a surprising side role as…a hero? Well a temporary hero, at least, and that was certainly intriguing enough to the muse to want to share it. It was a damn good story, one so good my inner editor’s only ongoing comment was “shut up and keep typing! I want to know how this ends!”
But no, because the real world sucks and I can’t always write stories about abuse, somehow, I’m betraying my artistic principles. And, this is a fight I had in my head with my muse. Not some outside person who didn’t get my art. No it was a screaming match with my flighty, mean-spirited muse, who can’t understand why someone with a chronic illness might want at least one damned book that doesn’t flop on arrival. Heaven forbid I might want a royalty check with three or four digits.
But so that was her final kick for the night, the reminder that long before Peter came along, I’d had flops. I’d had books that I was sure would be bestsellers. They had diverse casts and great plots and no sex and lots of violence. They were so close to actual mainstream writing that I’d get to thinking, “This time, this time for sure, I’ve found a story people won’t turn down.” And they flopped.
Maybe what the muse did was mean, but after that, I decided to just let myself down early. Maybe when the fallen angel story goes out next year, it will sell a lot, and I’ll be able to pay bills and have some money left over. But given my four year history, it seems more likely that I’ll have another flop no matter how excited I am about the story. Actually, being really excited means the crash into reality would be more painful.
I dunno, people. Sometimes I wish I could just quit writing. The high of finishing a story only lasts two minutes now, and I’m still waiting for just one of my stories to find an audience. I keep writing, and maybe something in 2013 will catch peoples’ attention. But I can’t hold much hope in finding good homes for my ugly kids when even my own muse likes to kick me two minutes after I’ve typed “The End?”