Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day And The Married (Male) Romance Author


     First, I owe a very profound thank-you to Indigo Skye, who graciously agreed to share the space and the day with a (somewhat overeager) newbie due to a scheduling oddity, and whose blog will be coming out around 8am. If you can spare a moment, do please stop by and check it out!

     Being an erotic romance author has had a very peculiar effect on me.
     I recently sat down and counted out the actual hours I spend writing stories and novels, posting blogs and so forth. While I toil in minimum-wage Purgatory for the time being, it's physically demanding but mentally dull, so I use the time to plan, outline, and tweak various works in progress, most of which are in the erotic romance genre. When the math was all done, I concluded that somewhere in the vicinity of ninety percent of my waking hours are spent fantasizing about or writing for the pleasure of women who are not my wife.
     Most women would look at this as an unforgivable betrayal, placed in that context. Many would no doubt wonder what they lack that makes their husband need or desire the approval of other women. More than a few would throw up their hands, pack a suitcase, and head back to their parents and the birthing pangs of a nasty divorce.
     Thankfully, my wife is not most women. And as it's Valentine's Day, it's only fair that I should spend some time on her.
     When I was a kid, the very mention of the day made me cringe. Have you ever seen the Charlie Brown Valentine's Special? Yeah. It was like that, complete with name-erased valentines and the puzzled stares when I went to thank the nominal senders for the valentines I did receive, followed by either vague "You're welcomes" or denials.
     It wasn't until I got older that V-day actually started to mean something to me. Even then, the connotations were usually mixed. It seemed almost inevitable that some disaster would accompany my grandest attempts at making the night special for my current lady love.
     Dinner date at seven? Seven fifteen, I'm still struggling to get the car to start.
     I'm glad we're together by the firelight eating a two-hundred-dollar dinner, and to hell with the rent? I don't want to be with you anymore.
     As a result, for years, I lived in a constant state of dread when I looked at a calendar and realized that it was already the end of January. I once even went so far as to request a month off from work so that I could dodge anything that had even the remotest taint of frills, ruffles, red, or heart-shaped you name it. (Needless to say, this request was not viewed favorably. Meh....can't blame a guy for trying.)
     Then I met my wife, and Valentine's Day took on a whole new meaning. If you've ever been part of a brand-new marriage, just starting out, where every penny you spend screams its way out of your pocket faster than you can earn them back, you have the general shape of the first two years. Valentine's Day became a dinner out at one of the local casinos, because the food was relatively cheap, a hundred dollars in the slot machines, a bottle of Southern Comfort and a mixer, and back home to enjoy the only form of entertainment we could really afford on a regular basis.
      Now fast forward to the present. We finally escaped the gravitational pull and fast pace of Las Vegas for the much slower clip of rural Texas, a dream that I'd been harboring for years. It was a good move for both of us, but, like everything else, it came at a price.
      I started really writing in earnest again a few months before I left Las Vegas, dreams of a quick sale and the money and fame that would hopefully accompany it dancing in my head. Once I left Vegas behind, my muse began to really kick into overdrive, aided and abetted by the denizens of various websites I joined with the express aim of furthering my writing career. And my wife took it, as she always does, with grace, humor, and her own droll perspective on things.
     Not to say it was easy, by any means, mostly due to my own writerly insecurities. She'd read something I'd written and tell me how much she loved it, only to have me come back with a thousand different problems, things that were wrong, reasons it would never sell, and on and on. But she'd still keep reading my work long after most spouses would have said, "If you're that unhappy with how it's coming, then maybe you're aiming for the wrong field."
      When I wrote "Angels Would Fall," it wasn't something I undertook with more than the usual seriousness that I bring when I sit at the keyboard. It was a good story, sure...but there are plenty of other writers out there who wrote things at the same time that were just as good if not better.
      Enter my wife, who, when "Angels Would Fall" won the contest I'd entered it in, said, "You should really publish this."
      A raised eyebrow and coughing fit later, when my nice round smoke went down square, I looked at it again with new eyes. Maybe there's something here. Hmm. Let's give it a shot.
     I've already chronicled what happened after that; no need to rehash. The irony is that now I'm working just as much on the erotic romance side of writing as on my horror. I create fantasies for other women day, after day, after day. It's my job to get inside women's heads and give them all the things they really desire, but maybe either didn't realize they wanted or were afraid to ask for.
     In that respect, there is an intimacy to the writing I'm doing now that just isn't possible in the realms of supernatural horror. I am, quite literally, giving ninety percent of my waking and working hours to the pleasure of other women. And when it's considered that way, it's nothing short of miraculous that my wife is still with me.
      So, this Valentine's Day, I'll spend a (very) little time keeping current with the news from the writing world; I'll spare a few minutes for a couple of dear friends who help, with my wife, to keep me sane and focused when the pressures and the awesome responsibility that I've taken on threaten to crush me. But the main focus of my day will be my wife, because for a miracle we have today off together. Dinner and a DVD never sounded so good.
      I'm one hell of a lucky man, folks.
      Again, a warm thank-you to Indigo Skye.  Happy Valentine's Day, y'all.
      And I love you a hell of a lot, Erin.

      Until next time,

      Best,

      J.S. Wayne

      Writer: (n) A supernatural creature with the ability to alchemically transform caffeine, nicotine, and a dictionary into literature.

      Also see J.S. Wayne on Wordpress @ www.jswayne.wordpress.com.

5 comments:

Sarah Ballance said...

Aw, what wife wouldn't love a tribute like that one? Thanks for sharing your story - it gave me the warm-and-fuzzies. ;c)

Renee said...

Very well done J.S. I think that we all need to see from time to time...as writers and as married folk, that simply because we or our spouses fantasize explicitly that doesn't mean that the love or heart of the marriage is gone. You and your wife are lucky to have each other! -Renee

J.S. Wayne said...

@ Sarah; Thank you so much for dropping by. It's amazing how the love of a good woman can change your point of view on event he most traumatic things.
@ Renee: I couldn't agree more...on any point. :)

C. Margery Kempe said...

I agree with Renee -- it's hard to find someone comfortable enough in their own skin that they don't get envious of the people in your head. Everybody fantasizes -- pretending we don't just maintains the hypocrisy.

AllureVanSanz said...

What a lovely tribute! Thanks for sharing your story and making me smile.

Happy V-Day to you and your wife and all the other couples out there!

Best,
Allure