September 22, 2005
This is the most unscrupulous thing I’ve done as a writer. Violet Blue, sex editor/educator, made a comment on one of Shirley Shave's very first posts asking if she wanted to be included in an anthology of sex essays, a collection of non-fiction. At the time, I thought it was a cool and funny thing to do. The blog was just starting out and I didn't think it would take off like it did. Shirley Shave had her own email address so I wrote back--as Shirley--Great, thanks. I wrote to some other people as well which is how the site started getting a lot of traffic. Someone called it a form of performance art, which is a generous way of putting it. I tried not to write so much in the emails. The more I wrote, the more I was crossing a line.
I struggled with getting published in the book. I was being dishonest. It could compromise the book. But I wanted readers, or else I wouldn’t have started the blog in the first place. People who have been reading this blog for a while know that I haven’t had the greatest luck as a writer: read The Opportunist. That’s why I went through with it. I can’t say that I’m not proud that it’s out. The book looks great. It’s the first thing I’ve had published in book form since my first novel. Shirley has a chapter called "A Beginning: from ‘God’s Wife.’" I don’t think revealing this will make people doubt that the other pieces in the book are non-fiction. The writing is strong, it more than makes up for Shirley. I hope it will be an interesting footnote to a great collection.
Having Shirley in a collection of non-fiction actually makes some twisted sense. The book is written like a non-fictional memoir in the first person which is why it worked well as a blog. While I was writing the novel, I had the idea of crediting it to "Shirley Shave with Henry Baum" like a fake autobiography. I think that would only work if I was already a successful writer. Otherwise, it would confuse people. This also wouldn’t entirely have made sense given the third part of the book. After L.A. she moves to New York and falls apart. The book then takes a new direction when she joins a religious cult. I don’t think people would have liked, or believed, seeing her go in this direction. It’s partly why I stopped the blog. Readers seemed to like the blog most when she was confident and in control of things. At the end of the book she becomes a kind of sex Goddess with a commune of her own.
Either this is a great literary swindle or I’m going to hell. Whichever, please check out the Best Sex Writing 2005.
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