Sending you many blessings as we continue in this time that can feel stranger than fiction. I’m crossing my fingers that you are staying safe at home, or if you cannot remain at home, that you have great precautions in your workplace.
First, a big welcome to all you new readers (who are, of course, writers)! I have been delighted to see so many of you signing up for the Writing Your Erotic Journey Through the Decades course. Welcome again to each and every one of you.
When truth is stranger than fiction, one sensible response is to write about the truth. I really enjoy hearing from you, before, during or after you journey through the course. One woman wrote, “Thank you Stella. Glad you are out there. After doing the marathon writing I realized how despite a person's age that spark inside is ageless.” Indeed it is!
For those of you who have been on this newsletter list for a while, the course link is here. For those of you newly arrived, please click the links at the top of the page to find me on your favorite social media, and please, all of you tell your friends!
I'm writing this on the two year anniversary of our arrival in North Carolina. We were building friendships and exploring our new home state until the first outbreak in our county in March. Since then we have been cautious. I’ve settled into a routine with a two-mile walk in the woods each day, plus some combination of writing, gardening, working out with home gym equipment, and video calls with friends and family. I’m learning to cook new dishes. Once a week my partner and I drive to our local organic grocery where workers in masks place our order in the trunk. We basically see no one and go nowhere. My partner is a rover who acutely misses travel, whilst I am more of a homebody. I miss my mother, children and grandchildren in other states, but this constrained life gives me something I always wanted: the chance to write uninterrupted. So I alternate between an odd sort of claustrophobia, even though I can go outside, and a serene, almost luxurious feeling. It is a strange time, that’s for sure.
During this interlude, many writers are grappling with what to write that makes sense now. A number of writers and agents believe it is too soon to write fiction about the pandemic, that our feelings are too raw. By contrast, some agents believe it is too late to submit a pandemic manuscript, because by the time the year-long publication cycle happens, the pandemic will be yesterday’s news! I certainly hope they are right about the pandemic ending within a year. On the other hand, these agents could be putting themselves out of a job—that long publication cycle is a great argument for the faster timeline of self-publishing an ebook!
Some people find they can write short fiction, perhaps even linked stories, during the pandemic, but have trouble sustaining focus on longer works such as novel writing. This is no surprise, given the effects of chronic stress on our nervous systems. I’m currently writing about the erotic lives of older folks in lockdown. A friend who lives in a Continuous Care Retirement Community told me they are not allowed to leave the grounds except for urgent medical care, and no visitors are allowed in. These are active seniors, many in their sixties, who paid six figures for admission and could be barred from returning if they went for a no-contact drive off campus. I find their predicament fascinating. How would people in such a circumstance conduct their erotic lives? The answers in my stories involve everything from parallel universes to vampires to digging illicit tunnels between apartments. Stay tuned—I’m planning an August launch for this collection. You may find your attention span as a reader is shorter too, and I hope my story collection will catch your eye.
If you’d like to try writing your own short story, please check out my self-guided course for writing your erotic tale. A recent survey shows most women over forty would like to see more eroticism in older female characters, and we are here to serve. One of my recent newsletters includes prompts to get you started writing pandemic erotica. And here is another author’s useful viewpoint on writing a strong erotic scenes.
On the reading side, if you are interested in reading fiction by women about past pandemics, check out Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter. Porter herself was quite ill with the 1918 influenza and it’s rumored that it turned her hair white at age 28. She writes about that pandemic in a stunning and sometimes hallucinogenic way. Her short novel (around 50 pages) won both a Pulitzer and a National Book Award.
At the opposite end of the length spectrum is Kristin Lavransdatter, a thousand-page masterpiece whose author, Sigrid Undset, was the third woman ever to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1928. An intricate tale of a Norwegian woman’s life in the Middle Ages, the story culminates with the Black Death. This one could keep you busy through a very long lockdown.
And last but not least, your periodic reminder that if you have read Aphrodite’s Pen and have not yet reviewed it, I would very much appreciate it if you would take the time for an honest review on Goodreads, Amazon, or wherever you review books.
For all of us facing challenging times during the pandemic, I hope that both reading and writing can be sources of joy and relaxation. We all need to be extra mindful of keeping our emotional batteries charged at this critical time. Reach out to friends and family, and I would be glad to hear from you at email@example.com. I look forward to your note.