On Creation and Approval (Or, How to Have an Artistic Crises in a Corn Field)

Image description: the author holds up her forearm tattoo of a blank line needle and double bow in front of a background of a cornfield.


Here’s the deal. The first lesson any creator needs to learn and accept is that your work isn’t for everyone and not everyone is going to like it. Simple enough. But there are some creatives that count on it. They want to produce work they know certain people won’t approve of, to be subversive or make waves or create change through the sharp, radical confrontation of social norms. Or sometimes, just to piss people off for the sake of… pissing people off.

I, for one, do not want to piss people off. I have a peacekeeper personality, and in my creative life I don’t want my work to be confrontational.

But the fact that I write a lot of smut means that, unfortunately, a lot of my work comes off as confrontational even though I don’t intend it to be. By simply including sexual fantasy, kink, and many of the other things I write about in my work, I will inevitably confront something in somebody.

And I’ll be honest. It’s getting old.

I’m out and open about my work because I’m proud of it. My work is meaningful to me and it has led me to make meaningful connections with others in this world.

But by being open and unashamed, I’ve put my work out there to be turned into a bit of a target.

I started to get rolling with video and affiliate content and then got demonetized. I can’t buy advertising for most of my work on most platforms because of my content. I have been denied having a table at book festivals because I have the word Erotic clearly stated before Romance on my subtitles. (Even though, I must say, my work tends to be on the tame end of the erotica spectrum. I put the word on there because I want readers to know what they’re getting into and to read at their own comfort level. Consent is that important to me.)

I’ve also had real-life consequences that were pretty gnarly. Everything from dirty looks in the grocery line to some trying to get me fired from my Day Job.

How exhausting it is when you feel like your art, your work, or your life’s calling is the guillotine blade hanging above you, never knowing if today is the day it might drop.

To combat this scary overwhelming guillotine feeling, I started writing about other things like social commentary and lifestyle to try to “balance” my sex writing. But it soon became clear that this wasn’t where my heart is and this was going to be a fast track to resentment and burnout.

Because I truly feel like sex writing (the umbrella term I use for my erotic romance, fluffy romance, and non-fiction writing that always ends up somewhere in the sexuality realm) is my life’s calling. The connection and usefulness I’ve found for myself in this work is irreplaceable.

So I found myself in a really difficult place: either compromise my creative work or take that guillotine blade of approval into my future, to always be dangling precariously over my career, personal life, and mental-wellbeing.

Yeah, I know, I got a little dramatic about it.

So dramatic that I thought about just deleting everything. Un-publishing my books, taking down my websites, and deactivating my social media.

Finally I realized I just needed to get away from everything and really dig deep and reflect. So I hiked out to my favorite cornfield and surrounded myself with the harvest gold and cold, earthy, autumn air.

I’ve never felt closer to my creative work than I have standing in the middle of that cornfield. While I was in there I knew what I needed, what I wanted. The reason there was air in my lungs and a needle with a tied bow tattooed on my arm. I knew I wasn’t going to quit being a sex writer.

At the end of the day I know how fortunate I am. For the most part, I don’t feel like I’m under threat of any physical harm. And I take responsibility for my work by continuing to label and describe it properly even if it closes some doors or opportunities. I know my intentions and I’m not trying to make a business out of my work—I have a Day Job that pays the bills and keeps me secure.

What I want to do is put out my best, most meaningful work and connect with readers in equally meaningful ways.

I’ve had a lot of experiences that have taught me so very much. I’m grateful and I’m going to put those lessons into practice.

I’m not going to over-explain or twist my work for validation anymore. I’m going to create the work the universe put me here to create. It won’t all have to do with sex, of course. I also write about death! (Though if you’ve noticed the plethora of sex stories I’ve set in cemeteries, the side eye you’re giving me right now is noted and acknowledged.)

I’ve gone through and pruned some content on my blog and social media, so I can finally move forward the way I’ve always intended.

It’s been a long road, but I’m ready now.

Thanks for being here. ‘Til next time, be sharp, be delicate.

Image description: a view from inside the corn field, mostly golds but some green.

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