Romance Writing

Considered by many the ultimate sell-out of prose, I would counter that Romance is the last vestige of the cult author. The career hack, the formula writer, the struggling fiction machine who writes words by the thousand and publishes by week’s end.

And what’s more? These heroes don’t have to work for a master any longer. They operated independently, slinging smut in settings across the board. Rising above their artistic intentions, they follow the formula… and within that they discover new territory.

I recently met one of these literary foot soldiers at a writer’s Meetup just outside Austin. I won’t divulge her name because you can’t find her work from that; she works under at least two pen names and never attaches her own to the market. The Ro-Musketeer (I like that, no matter how odd it sounds) took the time to sit with me and look through the market, explain the basics of the trade.

Now, I’m not going off the reservation any time soon. The Shroud’s in my blood, from postcard paper cuts and cigarette burns when I’m writing too long to realize my butt’s gone to the filter. But I don’t see any reason to hold back from exploring the publishing possibilities of Romance Fiction.

There’s a character referenced here and there throughout the Shroud, known as the Defense Minister, or Jesus H. Christ’s ex-girlfriend, or the Silver Haired Man. If there’s anyone out there who played Dungeon’s and Dragons with me as a kid, they’ll recognize the character. Spique, pronounced the same as everyone’s favorite nineties vampire.

If I’m being honest, Joss Whedon’s bleach blond is the reason I changed the spelling.

I’ve struggled with Spique for a couple years now. A brazen mercenary I first imagined at age ten, then the history defying lover of the world’s most renowned messiah. Now the Defense Minister of the Charm City Court, locked into service of the worst King ruling under the Shroud.

The struggle is in her trans nature. Ever since I started serious work on The Shroud, I’ve known that for Spique gender is a secondary interest. She loves to fight and fuck. The nature of either isn’t so much subject to interpretation as it is an opportunity. She’s not interested in definition; she lives for experience.

Her immortality, legend says, isn’t a gift of heritage. Age doesn’t dare to approach. Spique doesn’t know why she’s lived so many centuries. She’s no memory of her youth, only that when the Picts first crossed the English Channel, she waited on the beach. Her first words were, “took you long enough.”

I’ve got big plans for Spique. And now those plans include a couple romance short stories. Stay tuned!

On Timeliness

I heard it most recently from Jeff Daniels in a WTF with Marc Maron interview: work hardest, and show up on time. I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point. Wanna be a late person, excellent. Go for it. Work any number of jobs up and down the pay scale, but you want to be an artist?

Confound every cliche about lackadaisical talent.

Plenty of artists show up late and do just fine for themselves. I don’t know how they pull it off, but they exist. Far as I’m concerned it’s profoundly unprofessional and disappointing but what’s worse it’s a waste of everyone else’s time. But what’s worse? It’s unprofessional.

Now that I’m finished condemning a bunch of people I either do or will work alongside, why Ian? Why are you so dead set on following the clock?

Chivalry. In a very literal manner.

As I’ve mentioned, I once squired for the Freelancers Jousting Company. Most of the knights, and a few squires for that matter, served in one branch of the military or another. Makes sense, right? Frankly I don’t understand why jousting isn’t huge in this country; a pitch perfect way for veterans to face death in a visceral fantasy and make a few bucks.

We operated on T-times, as in “T-MINUS THIRTY!” meant get the saddle on the horse and the first pieces of armor on the knights. Last chance to piss, and a favored responsibility as a squire; getting all worked up in steel is a lot of pressure for these guys, and they didn’t always remember to drink enough water. As soon as they called the “thirty,” I asked my knight if he’d pissed. If he hadn’t, that meant drink more water. Dehydrating wrapped in a tin can is… messy.

T-times ran up until five minutes to curtain when we got the knights mounted and awaited the trumpet call to action. Again, veterans. Our steps calculated for safety, and if you miss a beat anywhere in the process that could mean a step down the line that gets someone killed.

No shit. Killed. A lot of pressure for a thirteen year old.

So I don’t blame them for their harsh punishment for lateness. Specifically, every minute late was ten pushups. And call was at six AM, Saturday and Sunday mornings. nine weekends from late August to mid October. I couldn’t even drive, so my lateness was based on my mom’s girlfriend.

For me, the squire called Worthless, those ten pushups for every minute late went face down in horse shit as often as not. Didn’t have to be that way; if I’d let on that it bothered me the knights would’ve stopped. I never did. I loved it. I wanted the full punishments; I wanted to be the best.

So you won’t catch me late to work. And art is work.

Catch you next time, I’ll haunt your thoughts and dreams!