This blog has been pretty quiet for a while now, except for the sound of crickets. Little crickets. Little crickets that occasionally cricketed in my direction before sighing and going back to sleep. The quiet was a change for me. For most of the life of this site, I posted fiction or nonfiction at least once a week. I knew my blogging would slow as work on my collection progressed, but I didn’t anticipate the absolute halt. In hindsight, I probably should have. But then, I didn’t realize quite how hard I’d be kicking my own ass.
The ass kicking has taken a lot of different forms, most of them positive but, as in the way of all ass-kickings, very often challenging. One of the biggest was the collection of linked short stories that I’ve been working on for the better part of a year, and which is finally going to release with Go Deeper Press Tuesday (!!!)
Roadhouse Blues started off as one thing and ended up being something else entirely. I’d been wanting to do a longer project for a while—nothing too serious or, you know, likely to kick my ass, but good and interesting all the same. Something that would explore a fluid variety of sexual experiences. Something I could be proud of and really happy to have done. So, that’s how the project started – as a fun creative challenge. Hooray! Terrific! All according to plan so far.
Then I started digging in, and the stories got more personal—never autobiographical, but definitely drawing from the complicated, sometimes murky, well of my own emotional landscape. That’s when my blogging started to slow down.
At first, I went from posting every week to every couple of weeks, because the collection was time consuming and so is my real life work. Then posts started coming even more sporadically because, hey, this workload is kicking my ass but what the hell, let’s see where it goes.
By the time Eroticon London rolled around in March, I hadn’t posted in ages. Since then, the only thing that’s gone up on my blog has been the notes from the talk I gave there, (which was an awesome experience, btw).
By then, I had to admit something to myself. It wasn’t the workload that was kicking my ass. It was the emotional digging I was doing. I don’t want to make it sound like the collection is full of awfulness and pain. My goal was always to give people a good read, not a horrible slog through horrible things, and, while there are some trigger warnings in there, I’ve stuck as close to that goal as I possibly could. It was more that everything I’d been putting in my posts was going into the stories, and my focus had to narrow to make it work.
The other piece to this, the much larger, harder-to-talk-about piece, is the fact that I’ve been going through a pretty difficult time personally. The writing of these stories has been directly linked to my own process of healing and recovery, so the more I dug into my history, the more immediate the stories became. It was a powerful experience, both as a writer and as a person. Unfortunately, the side effect was that I developed a deep and abiding need to get very, very quiet in almost every other way. Thankfully, I have very supportive, loving people in my life who understood this deep and abiding need, something I’m grateful for to no end.
I don’t feel comfortable making big, fat declarations of emotional commitment to my work—my commitment should be clear in my writing, and, if it’s not, I’ve done a shit job. In this case though, I’ll admit to the fact that this collection required more from me than I initially expected. The ass-kicking I gave myself while working on Roadhouse Blues was much harder than I could have imagined, and all the more valuable for it.
I have no idea how Roadhouse Blues will go over when it releases Tuesday. I have no idea if people will enjoy it, or hate it, or just not even care, and I’m weirdly okay with that. I can’t control how people read it, or if they like it, or hate it, but as much as I want to this book to succeed, I’m also very aware of how important it’s going to be to let it go.
I did what I set out to do. I wrote something that I’m proud of. I wrote a collection of twelve linked short stories that explore sexual fluidity and subversiveness in a seemingly traditional place. I brought everything I had to it and I didn’t leave anything out, even though I was tempted, once or twice, to take a less ass-kicking road. I’m glad I didn’t though. In the end, regardless of how Roadhouse Blues is received, for me, the ass-kicking was worth it.
Go Deeper Press has been awesome and released some excerpt from the collection ahead of time, along with the book’s introduction. If you want to check them out, you can click the links below. Rachel Kramer Bussel was also kind enough to post an excerpt on the Lady Smut Blog, so I’ll include that link too. Thanks!
from the title story, “Roadhouse Blues”
from (my favorite story), “Marlboro Man”
from “Flash, Pop!”, the story that inspired the collection