“Mum, is tea ready? Where are my pants? What are you doing?”
This is usually the point at which I give up trying to think up a new word for ‘cock’ (there should so be a thesaurus purely for people who write about sex) and slam the lid of my computer down with a frustrated groan. And not the sort of frustrated groan that can be enjoyable, oh no.
Oh, the joy of being an erotic writer in a house full of boys and men. There’s me, my husband who works from home making noises for computer games (no kidding – my life runs to a background of synthesised explosion noises), a teenager in the middle of exams (ugh…just uuggghh) and an eight-year-old who has this look in his eye that tells you he might run the world one day and that you should probably be scared. Plus forty pounds of dog that likes to sit on my lap whilst I’m writing.
Everyone tells you that to be a writer (of any description) you have to get into a routine. Write a certain amount of words every day, write even if you’re having to do it to a background of kids’ tv, see it as a proper job… All those instructions that are designed to make you feel crap when you discover that actually, it is not easy to write a story about sexy sex to a background of kids needing clean undies and trying to read over your shoulder.
Life is doubly difficult once your kids can read what you’re writing. Fifteen year olds should be recruited as spies – they have an inbuilt ability to read other people’s private stuff at twenty paces. Upside down. Youngest is still naive enough that I can tell him vaguely that I’m ‘working for someone’ and he accepts it. He also can’t read particularly quickly and even when he does, he just ignores the words he doesn’t understand.
The Teen, however, has an eagle eye. Many’s the time that I’ve had to slam the laptop lid down quickly because the page has frozen in the midst of me typing something along the lines of “she eyed his cock hungrily” and have been unable to switch tabs fast enough (my MacBook is so old that it’s held together with masking tape. It ain’t pretty).
In order to preempt some of the more awkward questions, I decided to come clean and tell our eldest that what had always been described vaguely as ‘website work’ (not a total lie, as I do occasionally build client websites) was actually written erotica.
He was gratifyingly blase about it, in the event. I should have expected it really – after his nan lent him her copy of Fifty Shades (no kidding – they were on holiday together and apparently he ‘ran out of books’), his only reaction was indignation. “God, mum, that book is really badly written! After they do it the first time it all gets a bit dull.”
That’s my boy. So our ‘Mummy writes smut’ conversation was fairly easy:
Teen – “What is it that you do, exactly?”
Me – “I write stuff and it gets sold on Amazon.”
Teen – (looking beady-eyed) – “What sort of stuff?”
Me – “…sigh… erotica. Rude stuff. Like Fifty Shades. Better written though. I hope.”
Teen – “Oh. Great.” And then he wandered off to find food. Teenagers’ daily routines consist solely of eating, sleeping and snogging people, in my experience.
I do know that he thinks it’s cool that his mum’s a writer, because he’s said so. Whether he tells his friends exactly what mum writes, I don’t know. His social circle are all surprisingly mature for their age – far more so than my friends and I when we were growing up. I do think that the current education system helps in that it covers sexuality in much more depth than it did when I was a teenager (in the 1980′s). The sum total of my institutional sex ed was one page in a biology textbook and an uncomfortable group chat with the deputy head. He sat on the corner of the table and undid his tie in an attempt to look casual, whilst we sniggered and tried to make him say ‘phallus’.
The Teen’s formal sex ed has been much more in-depth, sometimes hilariously so. I had a conversation with his head of year recently which included her waving a frankly terrifying purple plastic cock in my face, shrieking ‘This does NOT look realistic! How many willies stay this hard when you’re trying to take a condom off?!” I couldn’t answer that one.
Maybe I’ve been lucky in having kids that seem to think that whatever I do for a living is okay, so long as everyone’s happy. Maybe boys are just a bit more straightforward? I don’t know. But however understanding kids are about what mum does, giving her time and space to actually do it is another matter entirely.
If I’m left to my own devices I can write the first draft of a four or five thousand word short story in a couple of days. If left to my own devices. In reality, it takes a week, because I’m constantly having to stop to find a particular piece of Lego or explain to the Teen that he really won’t starve if he has to wait another half an hour to be fed and that no, a pre-tea snack of Pringles and Red Bull is not acceptable.
Never mind that sex words thesaurus – what I really need is a lock on the study door. And earplugs.
A Secret Life by Indigo Moore is available on Amazon. The sequel, Secret Affairs, is out this month.
Indigo Moore is the pen name of writer, professional eccentric and High Queen of Procrastination Violet Fenn. She lives in Shropshire, England with her husband and children, a pair of psychotic cats and a small, very stupid dog called Mosschops.
She believes that writing erotica is ‘the most fun you can have whilst alone (with a pencil)’. Find out more at indigomoore.com.