Some of you have been with me since the beginning and remember me when I used a different pen name. I published three short stories and two novellas under that name and they performed remarkably well. At one point averaging 20,000 downloads per month on Amazon alone. Life happened to me in a big way and I wanted to let go of everything prior to that point in my life and I decided to reinvent myself as Elene Sallinger – still a pseudonym, but a new one.
Coinciding with all this, I embarked on acquiring my Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. My first terminal degree, and – someone shoot me if this changes – my last degree. I was psyched. Finally a degree I wanted (all three of my previous degrees are in business, up to and including an MBA). I couldn’t wait for the literary discourse, the communion of writers and individuals all with the same goal in mind.
I never counted on it ruining my writing!
I came into the program confident in my writing skills while firmly convinced there was room for me to grow. My only formal writing training was in crafting children’s stories and I want to write for adults. I also want to write outside of the Erotica genre. I have several creative non-fiction books planned along with a romantic thriller duology and a few literary fiction novels as well. I felt I could benefit from the dedicated critique and literary viewpoint I would be exposed to.
I didn’t count on the bias that most people would bring to the discussion of my work. I’ve been insulted. I’ve been called a hack. I’ve been told by one classmate they were “surprised I could string two cohesive sentences together.”
Why? Because I don’t hide my erotica background. Why should I? I am a professionally published author. I have four novels to my credit and two more under contract. I’ve held my head up high and continued on.
Despite myself, the criticisms have sunk in. They’ve burrowed in like a tick. I find myself second guessing every sentence. I stress over every scene.
I used to just write and worry about clean up after. I once wrote 10,000 words in a single day. The stories came pouring out. I channeled them, letting the characters do as they saw fit. Now, I feel stretched thin.
I. Hate. It.
I write erotica by choice, not by default. I love the exploration of human sexuality. I think the world at large could benefit from healthier sexual attitudes. I write to foster those beliefs. I feel like at some level, this passion has been tainted by the harsh criticism I’ve received where bias against my chosen genre was masked as valid criticism of my writing technique. And, even though I know this, it’s crept under my skin.
I’ll get past it. I’ll get through it. But, I just handed off my latest novel, Reflection, to the editor and I’m not nearly as confident in it as I was in Awakening. That pisses me off.
This is much more of a rant than I intended, but I needed to vent.
Thanks for humoring me!