Why I don’t write children’s books

I recently did a spotlight interview on the ASPA blog on children’s literature. It was wonderful to hear about authors’ various experiences with writing and reading children’s books. This is an admirable genre, and a source of some of the finest stories in history. (Was ever a story of friendship more moving, or more real, than Charlotte’s Web?) Now, I myself am an admirer of kids’ books. I read them every day at work, in fact. Books for children deal with real issues, big questions, and tough history, and they do it with incredible grace and skill.

(Take a look at: Spotlight on Children’s Literature)

However, I will never write children’s books.

The reason is that, for many years now, I have been hyper-aware of my sexuality. Sex is everywhere I look; always just a thought away, and my brain keeps picking up on those signals – intentional or not – that scatter the world. No longer can I look at my environment with the innocent eyes of a child. My dirty mind is too busy figuring out what’s sexiest about it.

For example, if looking at a dining room table, my first thought might be: “Oh, I like the wood of this!” and my next thought, right at its heels, would add, “And it’s just the right height to bend over on top of… or sit on, and he’d have the perfect angle.” (By the way, never purchase a table unless it is the perfect height for standing sex! You’ll thank me later 🙂 )

Walking around, I cannot help checking out guys I pass. Doesn’t matter how good looking they are, really (although, I admit, I avert my eyes from absolute toads). I’ll do the quick eye-sweep — you know the one — and make sure I get a good (yet discreet!) glance at his package. Just let myself wonder what he might be like in bed, if he’d be dominating or lazy, how he would kiss. Sure makes a trip to the grocery store more interesting if I get to check out the cute ass of the guy in front of me.

Same thing for women: if she has a striking figure, or some other standout feature, she will always catch my eye. I notice the curve of a hip or jiggle of a breast, and think about how erotic that is, how sensual a woman’s body can be. Great fodder for my stories, to say the least.

In short, you won’t see me writing books for children anytime soon. However much I may admire them, I can no longer separate my sexual being from my storytelling, or my worldview.

When Less is More

Check out my latest craft post on the ASPA blog! In writing, as in cooking, the key is to use a small number of truly excellent ingredients…

My focus for this post is words. In our practice as writers, words are our lovers and our nemeses. The English language is among the richest in the world – perhaps the richest, in terms of vocabulary. Our dictionaries and thesauruses offer a bounty of delicious words: synonyms, antonyms, compound words, lost jewels with vintage flair, ultra-specific terms that are the perfect fit for some obscure sentence. I, for one, want to claim them all. I want to grab up words in great handfuls and smear them all over the page, make a beautiful mess like a kindergartner’s painting, and then lick it off my fingertips…

Source: When Less is More

Guided by The Cards

I’m usually a person who values the traditional writing process (as described here – it’s an invaluable tool!), but these days I’m trying something different. Instead of outlining my story from beginning to end – leaving space for plenty of fun in the middle, of course – I’m letting myself be guided by the cards. Tarot cards, to be exact. Specifically the 22 cards of the Major Arcana.

Tarot has fascinated me for years. The deck I use is one I made myself, back in the days when I had way more free time. It’s not fine art, but each card is meaningful, and speaks to me on a deeply personal level. I don’t consider myself an expert, or even a regular reader, but from time to time I find peace and guidance in doing a quick Celtic Cross for myself. It’s soothing to let the subconscious take control for a while, remove all thought and decision from the process, and just allow the Universe to speak. Some people (like my husband, no doubt), concrete thinkers and evidence-based decision-makers, might scoff at the idea, but I can say that there is energy in the cards. A kind of a tingling, a sense of being drawn towards one card over another. You can feel it, and be guided by it. It’s your subconscious speaking. The hard part is forcing you rational mind, bogged down by over-analysis, to listen.

Inspired by this, I had the idea many years ago to write a romance based on the Major Arcana. These 22 cards are a journey – some people call it The Fool’s Journey. Essentially, the cards are stepping stones through a person’s development from ignorance (childishness, innocence) into maturity (awareness, empathy, understanding). At first I thought I would write the story in order – this website does a good job summarizing it.  Then I thought “Wait a minute… if I just write the story in the traditional order, I’m really just doing the classic writer’s process! That’s not much of a challenge. And anyway, you’re supposed to let the Tarot guide…” That’s when I began to change my thinking. At that point I decided to start and end with the same cards – The Fool to The World – but let the middle be totally random, depending on which card I pick at the beginning of each chapter. My experimental erotic romance, currently published on WattPad, is the result.

Major Arcana: sex, love, and Tarot , is just that. (Hey, you can’t say I don’t deliver on a title!) The challenge for me has been to keep the idea of the story in my head – yes, I already know some of what will happen before I draw a card – yet allow the Tarot to guide each chapter. So far, I’ve been pleased with how it has worked out. Sometimes there were surprises (for example, I didn’t expect The Devil to pop up so soon!), and some of the cards have stymied me briefly (Judgment, for example, was really sticky for a bit), but it’s amazing to see how it is all coming together.

Who knows? Maybe my subconscious had it right all along! Wouldn’t be the first time. 🙂

If you’re curious – and I hope you are! – check out Major Arcana on Wattpad. I do love comments and critiques!

maor arcana