Well, folks. It’s over. Smut Marathon 2018 has come to a close.

I wept and prayed and wrote and deleted. I cursed and celebrated and almost gave up many times.

But did I enjoy it? Absolutely.

What I loved

  • The prompts: they were creative and became increasingly challenging as the race went on
  • The pace: if you’re nervous about how much or how often you have to write, don’t be, it’s very manageable
  • The support: people retweeting and encouraging votes even after they were eliminated, the unfailing solicitation of votes, the fact that so many people took the time to read and vote. The support was awesome and quite moving.

What I found challenging

  • The word counts: the competition spans work of 30 words to 2250. I could always have written more but I learned a lot about editing
  • The pace: I personally would have liked a brisker pace with fewer weeks between rounds. I’m impatient by nature so waiting for the voting week to close was torture but I suppose that can’t be helped and the pacing makes it more possible for more people to join in which is a great thing.
  • The definition of smut and erotica: My stories were consistently too slow to get to the juicy bits or not smutty enough. MPB wrote a great article on the subjectivity of smut that sums up a lot of my thoughts.

My Strategy

I love the concept of the Smut Marathon and I think there’s huge value in competition that is supportive and encourages you to push yourself. If I’m completely honest, I approached the Smut Marathon with the goal of winning. Period. In the end I was 3rd of 85 and I’m very satisfied with that.

They say that when running a marathon, it’s not just about your fitness and physical training, it’s a psychological thing. You have to have your head in the right space to take on and maintain such a herculean feat. I’m no runner, but as a writer, I think the same principles apply. For me, focus was key and I achieved that by being a bit selfish: I only read the comments on my pieces, and I never left any feedback for other writers. I also, largely ignored the feedback because other than to state technical errors (one story I completely screwed up the prompt) it was mostly subjective. Yes, it matters if readers feel connected to our writing but whether or not they like it isn’t very helpful in the absence of actionable feedback. You may read that and think it’s a shitty approach, but here’s my reasoning: feedback given by or to people who don’t have experience giving and receiving proper critical analysis on creative work is rarely helpful. I have fairly extensive training in academic art critique and I know how to give critiques and accept critiques but the Smut Marathon was not the time or place for a master class on critical response. This is no one’s fault, it just is what it is, and I made the decision early on to make the process about my writing process and honestly, a bit less about the community aspect.

Many people expressed stress and worry over leaving comments for others and I think that’s a fair response. No one wants to be misunderstood and no one wants to appear unsupportive in a small-ish community where the peers you are competing with are your friends, and in some cases, partners. I’m not suggesting that if you join up for the 2019 Smut Marathon that you take my approach. What I am saying is do whatever you feel you need to do to get the most out of the competition. For me, that meant getting through it and to do so, I had to limit the influence of others and write from the heart/gut/whatever. Would I have won or placed second, not third, if I had been more involved in the comments and discussion? Maybe. But more likely I would have been discouraged or spent my energy there and not on the writing. Your process is your own, as is mine, and there is no shame in honouring what works for you.

Final Thoughts and Advice

If you have any inclination at all to join in for the 2019 race, do it.

It’s a great exercise in writing, reflection, and editing. You will learn so much about your process and the discipline of writing. You’ll be uncomfortable at times, you’ll probably doubt your skills, you’ll feel pride and triumph, possibly defeat. But you’ll be writing and growing and learning and sharing. Isn’t that why we’re all here?

 

 

Want to read more from the Writers of the 2018 Smut Marathon? You can do so here.

If you’d like to read my Smut Marathon stories, you’ll find all ten of them here.


Violet Fawkes

Violet Fawkes (she/her) is a freelance writer and sex blogger focusing on pleasure education, erotic fiction, and the intersection of identity, kink and mental health.