Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep

Friday morning and a working weekend looms on my horizon. I slept rather well again last night–I hope this is actually turning into a habit for me–so I feel pretty good again this morning. My muscles are still a bit creaky; they need to be stretched and they need to be worked, so hopefully after I spend this entire weekend with my nose to the grindstone I can start making the trip back over to the gym next week. Fingers crossed. I wasn’t too terribly tired when I got home from work yesterday, so I did some laundry, got the dishes under control, and did some filing and organizing, which is always lovely–the workspace is much more work-friendly this morning than it has been all week. I’ve not started reading my next book yet–Tara Laskowski’s The Mother Next Door–and I am putting that on hold until I have my work caught up.

We’re almost finished with The Little Drummer Girl, which has only one episode left to go, and it’s very interesting, if dated. At first, with its focus on the Israeli secret police hunting down terrorists, I thought it was going to be a very dated look at the Middle Eastern issue, especially given the time when the book was written (at that point almost the entire world, excepting Muslim countries, were pro-Israel)–but I should have known John LeCarré would never write anything one-sided, or pro one faction or the other. It’s actually quite nuanced, definitely more so than I would have thought for the time it was written and published; it shows both sides and how the irrational blood-for-blood eye-for-an-eye mentality of both deepened and made the hate more deeply ingrained to the point where there really is no possible solution, which is where we are now. I kind of want to read the book now–because, of course, my TBR pile isn’t deep enough as it is.

There’s still work to be done around the house, of course; there always is, and it’s a nice way of waking up every morning over the weekend as I prepare to get ready for the day’s writing; I’ve tended to have it look like it’s under control on the surface while underneath it’s all just a huge mess. (The file cabinet drawers in particular are a mess; I need to spend a weekend cleaning out and emptying and reorganizing my file cabinet…although what I really need is a taller, four drawer cabinet, but I don’t have room for it where the current cabinet sits.) I also need to start preparing my class for next Saturday at the East Jefferson Parish Library; I have the notes for the Saints and Sinners workshop (that I forgot to take with me that morning) that I can build on, and one of the books I discussed in the class–The Rape of the A*P*E* (American Puritan Ethic) by Allan Sherman, happened to be one of the books my dad found while emptying out one of the areas in their basement and pressed on me while I was there last weekend. So I have that to consult and get notes and information from…or not, if I don’t need it. Inevitably I am always afraid I am going to run out of things to say in front of the class, and have to wing it and make myself look stupid, but more often than not I have too much material for the class.

And who knows? Maybe this time–unlike Saints and Sinners–no one will show up.

And on that cheery note, I am heading off to the spice mines. Have a lovely Friday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

Let’s Make Love Now

I have always hated the cutesy phrase “make love.”

It’s always been used to get around censors, back in the days of the Hays Code for movies and of course, the ones who kept network television squeaky clean and almost infantile; a unique term for fucking required by puritanical Americans because, you know, the f word is just too nasty to say. Fornicate sounds like sin (usually it’s only used by preachers and ministers), and of course, there’s “having sex”–which sounds completely clinical and sterile and about as un-erotic as a colonoscopy. The other words for it–balling, screwing, fucking, humping, riding–are considered too vulgar for polite society. So someone, somewhere, came up with the innocuous phrase “making love.” (This also is yet another societal effort–whether intentional or not–to equate sex with love; one of the biggest mistakes in modern culture and society) And this doesn’t even begin to touch on “going to bed with” or “sleeping with.”

I don’t know when “making love” began to irritate me, but it was very prevalent for a very long time on soap operas, and every time someone would say it, I would flinch or internally recoil. (Although it’s fun to go back and replace it in movie and song and television show titles: Making Love becomes Fucking; Let’s Make Love becomes Let’s Fuck or Let’s Have Sex–which completely changes the tone, doesn’t it?)

I guess this is on my mind because I am preparing for my workshop today on sex in fiction–that, of course, and then today’s title popped up on my title list and I reflexively rolled my eyes. My workshop is:

Friday, March 25

2:30 – 3:45 PM—SAS Master Class

GREG HEREN: WRITING THE EROTIC

Writing about sex is more challenging than it appears. This master class will help writers produce erotic writing grounded in character, setting, and voice, with an eye on how erotica can contribute to, build, and/or resolve story conflict. We’ll explore how the implicit is often more effective than the explicit, and how to make explicit scenes compelling and authentic. With a focus on finding fresh imagery and an original approach, we’ll also look at how humor, bad sex, or even problematic sex lend themselves to a fuller—and more erotic—interaction between two characters. Questions addressed include: How can we make use of the erotic to create more exciting fiction that better reflects the real life and aspects of a character? How can the erotic be the center of a story without being explicitly so? What do we do about hyperbole and how do we grapple with the often hyperbolic feelings around the erotic? How is erotica different from sex writing or porn? And, how can we ultimately make the erotic fit naturally, as an integral part, into the flow of a good story. This workshop will encourage participants to take chances and experiment with building eroticism into their work mindfully and seamlessly, and/or give them the tools for creating a story that is primarily driven by the erotic, but that has a freshness and originality often lacking in the genre.

Hotel Monteleone, Lobby Level, Royal C

I didn’t write that description–I am filling in for Trebor Healey, the original instructor, who broke his leg or his foot or something. It happened in time for the program to be corrected before it went to the printer, and you know me–I am the seat filler for all last minute cancellations at Saints and Sinners. I don’t mind; it eases Paul’s mind to know he can count on me to fill in if necessary; it’s why I usually am not programmed into it to begin with because I’m the wild card that can be played on any hand. I’ve taught erotic writing workshops before–I used to write a column for the Erotica Writers’ Association, which I don’t think exists anymore? I could be wrong–but there’s always pressure to do a good job and say smart things that the audience will be able to use to improve their own writing. Add that in with my stage fright and absolute soul-wrenching terror at having to stand up and talk in front of people, intensified by the fact I haven’t done it in over two years maybe even three, and yeah, you get where I am at this morning.

AIEEE!

Ah, well, I need to get over it.

Last night I watched the latest Superman and Lois, another couple of episodes of Young Justice, and the latest two episodes of Minx, which is really growing on me. I like the show–even though I am a bit concerned about some aspects of it–and of course, shows set in that time period–the 1970’s–are ore than a little nostalgic for me. I am almost finished inputting the edits into the manuscript–I am hoping to get that finished when I get home after my class today–and so am feeling pretty productive. Once I have this manuscript finished and returned to the author, I can focus on getting back into my own writing again. YAY! I am hoping to do that very thing on Sunday. Fingers crossed.

And now I need to start preparing for the workshop. Wish me luck, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again tomorrow.

The Wisdom of Time

Hello, Monday morning, how are you?

It was cold when I woke up this morning–but its warming up; definitely springtime in New Orleans where the differential between night and day can range from about ten degrees to as much as thirty. Yay?

Well, that there was an interruption, wasn’ it?

I took today off because I had appointments this morning–hello, Metairie!–and thus wasn’t able to get this finished before leaving the house. Sorry about that, y’all; I know how important it is to you all to get your started with Gregalicious and coffee, and I have failed you miserably, and on a Monday, too. There’s simply no excuse for this, is there? I am hanging my head in shame as I type.

But yesterday was a good one. I started reading Alex Segura’s marvelous Secret Identity, read some issues of the Nightwing Rebirth run, finished editing that manuscript I was working on (now I have to get the edits into the electronic version; I work on hard copies because I find electronic edits make it hard for me to see the overall story and its arc–which is one of the reasons I don’t edit much anymore. y old-fashioned methodology for working shouldn’t cost us the rain forest when it’s easier for me to stop doing that kind of work. I then started watching the Young Justice series on HBO MAX–which I really am enjoying as well; looks like Alex has dragged me back into the world of comics and super-heroes again for another round. I also went down some Nightwing Internet wormholes.

I really love Nightwing, if you couldn’t tell.

So today, now that my appointments are over and I am home, I think I’m going to take the rest of the day off. Yes, there’s always work I could be doing–always, but that doesn’t mean I can’t take some time away from the world every now and then. I need to get ready for the workshop I am teaching on Friday–it’s been soooooo long since I’ve taught; I definitely will need to do some rehearsing at home–and I also need to prepare for my panel on Saturday (why I hate moderating; if you’re on the panel you can just show up), but I have so much to do I am not going to get much chance to enjoy either the Tennessee Williams Festival or Saints & Sinners this year. Sunday I probably won’t even head down at all; I’ll need to get over two consecutive days of public speaking for one thing (just thinking about it wears me out) and then I have about two weeks to get ready for the trip to Albuquerque for Left Coast Crime (my first time ever).

I also stopped in the Barnes & Noble on Veterans’ while i was out there, between appointments, and picked up Rob Hart’s The Paradox Hotel and Mia P. Manansala’s two Tita Rosie’s Kitchen mysteries, Arsenic and Adobo and Homicide and Halo-Halo. I also got The New Orleans Voodoo Handbook by Kenaz Filan because, well, why not? I don’t know an awful lot about actual New Orleans Vodoun, and since I’ve been doing all these New Orleans and/or Louisiana deep dives over the last few years, I thought it time to get something to supplement Robert Tallant’s Voodoo in New Orleans, which I don’t think I trust entirely. That pretty much is the case with a lot of the old New Orleans histories–the trinity of Tallant, Lyle Saxon and Harnett T. Kane are suspect, and that’s a generous assessment–but they are interesting to look through and read to get a better grasp of the legends and stories.

And legends and stories can make an excellent starting place for my own fictions.

And on that note, I am heading back into the spice mines. Y’all have a good Monday, okay?