Awesome Crazy Sauce

I know Eric periodically writes about being tired of politics, where people get inherently crazy. However, at least in politics you could argue our whole way of life - if not our civilization - might be at stake. Certainly money is, and money, ultimately is the most real thing there is, (since in our civilization money dictates where we live, what we eat, etc.)

HOWEVER I live in an even more interesting world than that of politics. In that world, being a writer is sort of like being a movie star, except with none of the high pay, fame or... well, okay, it's not at all like being a movie star.

I'm going to say several things about writers and, oh, yeah, about teachers.

Let me start with teachers. Public school teachers come under greater scrutiny by the parents. They dang well should. I know, I'm a parent and my taxes and various other circumstances dictated that my kids attend public school. (A choice that would probably be completely different if made today, but never mind.) This means that I watched the teachers very carefully and many (if not most) of them bear a close watching.

Mind you most of the reasons they bore close watching were petty and vague human sins not touching anywhere near felony. Things that can make a kid's life miserable, but would not rise to the level of "annoyance" in a normal office.

On the other hand, I am probably an unusual parent. I can't say I would have been upset if one of my kids' teachers had been a stripper after hours, provided she didn't talk about it in class. Ditto with a teacher who, I don't know, ran a phone sex line, or starred in adult movies. I'd only mind if she mentioned it on career day (depending on how much influence she had on my kid!) and/or demonstrated moves in class.

Yeah, I did freak out when I found out that across from my kids' elementary had been a kiddie-porno factory for the years they attended and that they rewarded the kids who participated by giving them candy. THAT was scary and I think I drove the kids insane until Robert pointed out they'd never EVER walked home on their own, so unless I'd dropped them off at the house, how would they have gone there. They had heard stories, but the prurient stories that circulate around any elementary school would given any parent who doesn't remember his own elementary school days gossip. My kids had figured they were all silly talk.

So, that's basically my position. School teachers bear watching in the classroom. Out of it they're their own people. They are adults and neither nuns nor monks. You might disapprove if it were known that they hit the bars every night and live in a commune with three guys and five girls, but really, unless they're bragging to the kids about this, it's none of your business.

At the same time, writers... well... I know writers. Most of us are not Stephen King or J. K. Rowling. We subsist somewhere between day job and starvation. Or in the case of my own career, like the caveman in Clifford Simak, between over-abundance and deprivation "we kill a mammoth" or sell a book "we eat until we're ill" or we pay all our bills and do that bathroom renovation. "And then there are months of nothing."

One of the fields a lot of writers work in to put food on the table -- usually under deep pen names and quite, quite hidden -- is erotica. Some well respected novelists made fortunes writing scripts for porn picture books. I'm not one of these. When I came on the scene it was too late - the internet had depth-bombed all the money to be had from writing salacious stuff. I did try, briefly, but could never finish the story because I got bored and halfway through he turned into a spider and ate her and all bystanders... Which they richly deserved.

I did write an "erotica" short story for a magazine called "Heat." We used to joke it was porn for Mormons, because the characters had to be married and there was a LONG list of proscribed actions. Anyway, they paid me something close to two thousand dollars for a short story, and then never published it as the magazine went under. (In a way I was glad, as I wasn't sure I could ever, ever write another, and what if it had done well? Not prudishness. I just found it difficult to create sexual tension between an already-married couple, on paper. In real life it's wonderful, but on paper... you want a big reveal and larger emotions, particularly in a short story.)

I'd probably never write erotica again, but depending on your definition, I'm not promising never to write erotic romance, which can range from soft to very hard core indeed. I have yet to feel an... er... urge to do so, but I'm not saying it won't happen.

If it does, does it render me unfit to ever teach school (High School!)? Which I was trained to do and, again, have no intention of ever doing, but am making no promises?

I confess the question never occurred to me till my friend forwarded this article from a very well known romance review blog

http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/weblog/comments/judy-mays-we-got-your-back-maam/

Go read that article. This is a woman that, as I understand it, teaches school and writes during her own time UNDER A PEN NAME for a well-known erotic romance site.

This is a quote from the article:

I recommend everyone read the comments because they restore some sanity and hope for what is a truly disgraceful and frankly stupid news segment.

WNEP, a television station from the northeast and central part my home state of Pennsylvania (OH MY GOSH I AM SO PROUD. NOT.) ran this lovely piece of crap story revealing the pen name of a local high school English teacher who writes for Ellora's Cave as Judy Mays. But wait, there's more: the news segment then assists these parents in holding her up for public ridicule--and, in the case of one class act of a parent, accusations of pedophilia.

To make this clear - this woman writes erotic romance UNDER ANOTHER NAME, so that her students can't stumble on it by doing a google search on her name. WHERE is the danger and the outrage? Do these parents have nothing better to do than to hassle an innocent woman for pursuing her dream of writing on her private time? Are they complete paragons who do nothing, ever that they don't want blazed from the mountain tops? Do none of the mothers read romance (a lot of which shades far into erotica) and have the books around the house, where the kids can get them? Have they never heard the parable about throwing the first stone?

Yes, the woman is a public employee, which I never thought I'd be defending. But in this case, it seems to me she's the victim of a clear violation of her privacy.  What WAS the TV station thinking?

Like Eric I've been mildly depressed, in my case because the weather in my area is so utterly horrible.  Because of this, I've been avoiding political news, so I don't go off the deep end.  Apparently the writing field is not safe to read about, either.

Perhaps this teacher should have gone into politics, instead. Then she'd have had the power to bribe people, so her private life stayed private. 

posted by Sarah on 04.27.11 at 04:44 PM










Comments

We're doomed. Mrs. Grundy won. (On both the left and the right.)

I considered trying erotica a while back (I can write, though I'm best at nonfiction, more's the pity - and I need a proofreader for my typos). But I honestly couldn't get through an 'erotic' sentence without giggling. (I have the same problem with reading erotic fiction.)

I guess I'll stick to tech writing. (Boring, but useful.)

Kathy Kinsley   ·  April 27, 2011 7:16 PM

Kathy,

My problem is that halfway through the story I get bored. I mean, I THINK I could write an erotic romance (haven't tested this theory yet) where there's emotional involvement and the sex serves to further it, but the type of erotica that's "you're hot, let's do it" bores me. I mean, there's a limited number or orifices and pokey things, and -- to me at least -- it's not really a spectator sport. So, I get bored and think of interesting things to do, like have the characters turn into mutant alien spiders (which, now I think about it, is a GREAT name for a rock band!)

Everyone needs a proofreader for typos. That's not a big deal. I'm always shocked when an editor tells me my manuscripts are fairly clean because... they're not. It makes me wonder what other people are like.

Sarah   ·  April 27, 2011 7:59 PM

"I'm always shocked when an editor tells me my manuscripts are fairly clean because... they're not. It makes me wonder what other people are like."

Sarah, they call it the "slush pile" for a reason. Way too many people don't bother to run the spell checker. Way more of them don't know enough English to determine when the spell checker picked the wrong word. Or just don't give a damn; that's what the editor is for.

SDN   ·  April 28, 2011 7:56 AM

The only bit I ever wrote of fiction (you know - with characters not in evidence in this world) that ever got published was a salacious bit for a contact magazine. I got five "free contact" cards for my efforts. Never used one. But I did get contacted. By guys. Wanting to know if they could get in on my "deal". It was fantasy. And so stated in the intro.

I generally prefer "What's it going to do next?" to "what's he going to do next?". Fewer variables. Of course I make an exception for politics.

M. Simon   ·  April 28, 2011 9:21 AM

The HTML gremlin has been at work.

I made this link:

http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/weblog/comments/judy-mays-we-got-your-back-maam/

clickable.

M. Simon   ·  April 28, 2011 9:28 AM

I think that a lot of people are justifiably furious over the state of education in this country, so they take it out on individual teachers by making scapegoats of them whenever possible. This helps ensure that only languid mediocrities will teach.

Eric Scheie   ·  April 28, 2011 10:17 AM

Simon,

Thank you. I thought I had. :/

Eric,
I confess I was ambivalent about defending this woman SIMPLY because she was a teacher. This is ridiculous as I'm teacher trained myself. But in another country (and besides that wench is as good as dead.) Despite my loving teaching I would NEVER endure the indocrination for one or two years necessary for the NEA to allow me to teach in this country. Frankly I think the union-dominated field is responsible for a lot of the issues: the growing bureaucracy, the teach by the numbers, the enshrined mediocrity. I mean, I'm not anti-union in all cases, but in the case of teachers? Who is the union adversarial to? The parents? Funny thing, half the time so are the teachers. And then the parents get upset. I'm not at all convinced we need institutionalized teaching in this country. I think we need a lot of alternatives from homeschooling to military school to whatever people want and will pay for. And then the colleges who want to ensure a minimum of literacy can have entrance exams. Not up to their standard? You don't get in. Same for professions and apprenticeships. (Crafts like mine would be better served by apprenticeships than by college degrees. I suspect so would business, actually.) However, if I'm dreaming and pie in the sky again (it happens) then to improve education 100% get rid of the NEA.
With all that you are absolutely right. Weirdly what I really loved about my 12th grade in an American school was that the teachers CARED if you learned. By and large my kids' teachers don't have that, and the ones that did for my first son had left teaching by the time my second son hit the same school three years later. Right now the younger son is in a school that runs college classes and the professors show that enthusiasm again. I hope this too doesn't get ruined.

Sarah   ·  April 28, 2011 10:41 AM

It's funny to me all of the sudden uproar, because all of the teachers I've known socially have also been the most depraved, hedonistic people I've met -- but always between consulting adults. Honestly, had all of my out-of-school experiences not shown them to be the most irresponsible, immature segment of my life, I probably wouldn't be as harsh on them.

First I was abused (mentally) by the indoctrination system, incarcerated until I managed to acquire the proper credentials, and then I find out that it's a system that none of the incercerators live up to themselves? Is anyone surprised that I want to tear down the entire system and support the separation of school and state?

(They were fun to be around in short burst though, as long as you didn't loan them any money or rely on them for anything.)

Phelps   ·  April 29, 2011 6:24 PM

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