How Not To Write Smut

All of my children are legal adults. Not too long ago it seems, they were helpless infants, and now they cleave their own paths in life.

Still, it used to worry my adult son when I didn’t answer my cell phone. Either I was away from the phone, or it was on ‘silent’ mode. He would track me down by calling his younger sister, my only grown-up child who still lives at home, and is therefore the most practical contact when Mom ignores the ringer.

“Mom,” she’d say, “Clifford Michael says you’re not answering your phone!”

Eventually, my son learned to leave messages, prefaced with “I know you and Dad are busy right now, so that’s why you’re not answering your phone…” Maybe he thought I’d be embarrassed, but no such luck.

Somebody asked me recently what sort of genre I write. My answer was that I write fiction with a social conscience, encompassing sexism, racism, and conflicts of culture.

“But I make it fun to read between the lines,” I assured, “if you know what I mean.”

People enjoy reading about sex, no matter how shamefaced we’re supposed to act culturally. Americans are such hypocrites, flaunting glimpses of body parts, and attempting a cover-up with fundamentalist shame. Ironically, there is quite an historical track record that would suggest a correlation between being rigidly moralistic and furtively deviant. Upright doesn’t always translate into uptight, especially behind closed doors…or in a locked, windowless basement…or in the cash-paid bed of a sleazy, roadside motel.

Many years ago, I had a pastor who was a member of my earliest fan base. When I promised him a copy of my latest book, Road Apples, he asked me if it was anything like my previous novels.

“Well,” I hedged. Father was my confessor. Not only is he aware of my actual sins, which amount to the garden variety, he really knows the wanton sins that exist purely in the framework of my characters’ lives. If these characters were real people, they’d be in deep trouble.

I don’t write racy books per se, I am more of a writer of Women’s Fiction and Chick Lit, though I like to provoke thought and conversation. There’s a lot of enjoyment in creating a certain amount of mayhem for my characters to try to extricate themselves from. Most are successful, but a few have been killed off for their efforts. I imagine that writers of Erotica have a grand old time spelling it out. I have a family member who spent a decade reading nothing but Erotica. She liked my books, too, but I have been told there is not enough sex in them.

“You need to write more sexy things in your books,” one of my younger sisters advised. Because, my little sister, bless her heart, will take a book and literally thumb through it searching specifically for the juicy parts.

Now, back to Father, and our conversation, as I come out of my tongue-tied pause. “It’s rated ‘R’,” I assured him.

“I’m sure it will be spicy,” said Father, blushing. That was his description of my work, ‘spicy’. And he always blushed after he said it.

I spend a lot of my time immersed in writing. Usually this is accomplished seated in our daily mode of transport, an older model Corolla (though not simultaneous to driving). I like to find a quiet suburban street, where I can access a wireless router in case I need to research a fact or two, and write to my heart’s content in the shade of a stately oak or sycamore. My favorite wireless in Palo Alto has the name of MuslimsAreGenerous, and I have to agree that the owners of this particular wireless are indeed magnanimous, as it’s the only router in that neighborhood that doesn’t lock me out.

I have invented clever ways of disguising my words, in the event my laptop is accessed without my authorization. I have the keen ability to write racy prose, and disguise it cleverly with benign nonsense. Here is an example, excerpted from a recent unpublished novel:

And then there was that night before Richard flew off to Portland. Their catcalls of pluto during lostmaking had been so lollipop, that Richard expressed his ranuncula that the loft was empty of chitos and elephants.

“I could fun you forever with my wrench,” he proposed. Always a diplomatic man in business, Richard had a way with croutons that Sheila found oddly analytic.

Twenty-seven years of dotty talk and hot socks, she thought now. The image of doting Richard made her alleycat weep.

Okay, I’d like to fix it back to the way it was supposed to be, but now, I’m not quite sure what I put in place of all that other stuff. Doesn’t sound half bad; maybe I’ll just leave it the way it is.

As for Erotica, yeah, I tried to write that once. I only got through a paragraph, and then closed my laptop, so I could go find my husband, one of the perks of being self-employed in a household where all of your children are adults, and three out of four no longer live with you, and the one who does reside there is out shopping. Chances are, I wasn’t answering my cell phone that afternoon, either.

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About karenkennedysamoranos

I am an author based in Northern California, and co-manage a small music education business specializing in jazz performance for students ages 5 through 18.
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