on writing,  Smut Marathon 2018,  Thoughts

Smut Marathon Recap

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.

6 Comments

  • Mrs Fever

    Re: Critical Response

    As a reader/observer of the marathon, I stopped providing feedback really quickly, because – like you – I have extensive experience with providing and receiving specific, applicable, constructive, actionable feedback and the lack of such feedback from other readers (and from the judges) made my teeth grind. I also have a degree in English and experience teaching and grading all levels of English writing, so the non-specificity in terms of clear, identifiable goals & objectives (think: rubric) nullified any claims of objectivity & non-bias as far as I was concerned.

    I think the people who participated either had to come to terms with those things in their own way or were otherwise accepting/unaware/open-to-lack-of-structure.

    I very much understand your mindset and appreciate your candor here.

    As with all things new, I think the Smut Marathon – and the people involved in its inaugural run – went through some growing pains, but on the whole it seems most people (including the organizers/judges) learned from the experience, which is a Good Thing. Hopefully most of the kinks (no pun intended) will be ironed out before the second go-round. And now that the first one is done and people have a better idea what it’s about, I think it will be much smoother.

    Congratulations on finishing so high. Your entries (now that I know which ones were yours 🙂 ) were stellar; you absolutely deserved your place.

    • Violet

      Thank you so much for the thoughtful and thorough comment. I’m relieved to know I wasn’t the only one who struggled with the format.

  • Marie Rebelle

    Back when I ran the Dutch marathon, I never gave feedback on the stories. This year, I promised myself I will give feedback, even though I know I am not very good in doing so. It took me almost to the last round to understand how to approach the feedback giving, so I am going to be better with it in 2019. Also to give more constructive feedback, because I really want the writers to find the marathon as much a learning experience as others have.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on the marathon, Violet. I am sure this will help a lot of people when they consider taking the step to enter next year 🙂

    Rebel xox

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