Below is my Smut Marathon round 7 submission. I did okay this round. If it were up to the judges, I would almost be out of the running…they didn’t really like it. In fact, I think I was 5 or 6 from the bottom in points this round. The public vote was a bit different. In fact, the exact opposite – I was 6 or so from the top. This was a strange round for me. I think my story was good, maybe not sexy enough (especially for the judges), but I’m cool with that. I’ve come to terms with the fact that the judges and I don’t (and won’t) see eye-to-eye on what constitutes good erotic writing.
I read through all the entries and very few of them jumped out and grabbed me this time. Some of the stories had potential, in my opinion, but were lacking something (3 and 5 and 14) – either fleshed out characters that I cared about or a plot that actually behaved like a plot. Others just didn’t have enough to grab me at all (6-13, 16), or felt more like a scene than a story (4), and I just don’t love the supernatural stuff – which is a personal preference (1 and 2). I really liked 15. It was a complete story and I cared about the character. That was about it. I don’t have a lot of commentary about this round, other than most of the stories felt like they were trying, but usually some bit of unnatural dialogue killed it for me, some jump in the plot that seemed forced. Like, I just met you, but can I kiss you? I don’t know you, but let’s fuck, okay? Too many of these stories just didn’t ring true.
Now, my story, has a bit of a “supernatural” tinge and may not have rung true, either, I suppose, and I have been told that it was confusing – so who am I to throw stones, right? I know a few commentators didn’t quite get it. The story is about a man who has an antique photo that has the power to draw him into it. He doesn’t know the girl he sees when he gets there. But he does research and finds out where the photo was taken, and he tracks it down, along with the girl. So, he fell in love with a girl he never met. That’s kind of the point of the story, but with 800 words, it can be hard to portray that perfectly. I was not drawn to the prompt and really had to dig for a story. And when I did come up with a story, I had to go back and add in erotic details, because they didn’t arise naturally. The photo, while interesting (the one you see at the top of this post), just didn’t inspire me to write anything. It comes across, to me, as dark and depressing, and so coming up with a sexy story was quite difficult for me. I noticed many of the other stories were also dark, so I suspect other writers struggled with this, too.
Anyhow, with how low I scored with the judges this round, I would expect that this next round will likely be my last. And I’m cool with that. I feel like at this point, it’s not so much about writing ability – everyone is pretty much on the same footing with that. I can walk away from this with my ego in tact. Prompt writing is not for everyone.
Hope you enjoyed my story this round….
Old Man Winter’s Farm
The bouncing and swaying of the taxi over the gravel road lulls Jack, but he focuses on his surroundings to stay alert. From the passenger-side, Old Man Winter’s Bed and Breakfast comes into view, his brilliant white whale in a sea of mid-summer Kansas wheat.
(I was trying to make the point here that the search for this place has been his obsession…like Moby Dick…but maybe the reference was too arcane.)
Jack hopes it holds answers to questions that have been building since he purchased the antique photo he currently holds. At seventy-two, he wouldn’t call himself a man of adventure, but a man of history? Yes. A man of curiosity? Absolutely. A bit obsessed? Likely so.
(I guess I needed more detail here to explain how he got the photo…in my original draft, I had a paragraph about him finding it at an antique store in Seattle…that it just called to him for some reason. Maybe I should have left those details in and scrapped some other bit of the story instead.)
The photo depicts the old farmhouse, before renovation, wind-stripped and aging. To the side, fence posts, crooked and broken like bad teeth, held together with spiraling strands of barbed wire. A winter-stripped tree, branches snaking out like black ink, stands furthest to the left. In its grasp, the weathered remains of a woman’s lace camisole.
He turns the photo over, fingering the penciled inscription: “Old Man Winter’s Farm, 1954.” Research has brought him here, just outside of Independence, Kansas.
(He had to research it, because he’d never actually been there, he’d only been pulled into the photo.)
Tracing the lines and curves of the image, he falls into it, sense by sense…
A young woman with sun-browned skin, sparkling with sweat in cutoffs and well-worn cowboy boots, her dirty blond hair windblown, cascading down her back. She smiles and laughs, but the sounds are distant, and like an old projector film, the images cut in and out, colors fading into one another, erasing the periphery.
She leads him through the orchard, down a well-trodden path to a swimming hole, where she pulls off her boots like it’s a race, playfully wiggles out of her shorts, and pulls her t-shirt over her head. Standing there, blushing, and avoiding eye-contact, in her red panties and matching lace camisole, the sun halos her body, and shines between her legs.
Impossibly, he feels like he remembers standing here, taking her outstretched hand and accepting her invitation, breathless with the kind of expectation one might have looking out at the Grand Canyon for the first time.
(It’s impossible…because he can’t “remember” something that never really happened.)
She places his hand on her heart. Every inch of his skin tingling, his breath catching as she guides his hand between her small, pert breasts and down her trembling belly. He slips his other hand around the back of her neck, pulling her hair at the nape just enough to expose her neck to his mouth, tasting her salty skin, inhaling the scent of apples and wheat.
He pulls her camisole over her head and tosses it aside as she slips out of her panties and finds a place to lie down in the cool, shaded grass. Beckoned, he finds his place at her side, and she spreads her legs just enough to leave no question of her desire.
He kisses her, honey-sweet, and allows her curves and heat to guide his fingers to the feather-soft triangle of hair just above her sex. Achingly slowly, he slips his finger to the edge of her abyss, finding the tiny pearl of her innocence vibratingly ready for his touch.
They are holding their breath, waiting for him to take what she has offered.
But the wind kicks up, and a voice carries from over the hill, calling her name in a musical echo.
(This is is the only reason he knows the girl’s name.)
Her eyes widen, and she jumps, rushing to re-dress, grabbing her boots, and running barefoot back up the trail. She stops briefly to glance back at him, mouthing the words, “I’m sorry…I love you…”
The driver’s voice shakes him out of his daydream.
“This is it.”
Jack pays, tips his hat in thanks, and retrieves his satchel from the back seat.
A young woman standing at the open front door, calls down, “Mr. Smithson?”
“I’m Emily. Welcome to the farm.”
Her smile is easy and soft, her dirty blond hair rolling across her shoulders in waves.
Jack follows her up the stairs and into the house, where she pauses at a podium holding a register, pens a few lines, and asks him to sign.
“Emily, do you know anything about the history of this old place?”
“’Course,” she beams, “It’s my great-granddaddy’s farm.”
“Is he still around?”
She smiles wistfully, “No, he passed years ago. My grand-mama runs the place now…Katherine.”
(This is when he finds out that “Katie” actually exists and is still alive…even though he has never actually met her outside of the photo.)
Jack bows his head and closes his eyes. Is it possible? “Is she here?”
“She’s prob’ly down by the ol’ swimmin’ hole. She sits down there all the time…like she’s waitin’ for somethin’.”
(We find out that she’s waiting for him.)
(So, apparently I missed the boat with this one. It took me hours and hours to write and revise and edit. And I cut out details that probably would have made the story make more sense just to add enough sexy stuff to call it erotica. The story suffered because of it. I thought it was a good story, but after some of the criticism I’ve gotten, I’ve come to feel that it’s confusing crap…which means that writing it was a colossal waste of my time. And, quite honestly, I’m starting to resent the whole process, which is no good.)