To reach a 10 year anniversary of something feels quite momentous. Studies show you need to repeat, or familiarise yourself, with something 66 times to form a habit. That would mean it took over a year of devising a weekly prompt and opening the space up for people to link their content, for Wicked Wednesday to become a habit for Marie Rebelle. Knowing my friend, I highly doubt this queen of juggling, the maestro of spreadsheets, was in any way haphazard about her venture. I’ve greatly benefited from the routine of this meme to keep writing posts and sharing them. [My 1st link-up to Wicked Wednesday was in January 2018 with a photo] For me it’s been a vital hub for discovering new blogs and fellow creatives.
Ten years ago was a peculiar time for me. I had an exercise routine of walking the family dog most days and going to the gym once a week, yet my fitness started to falter. I was feeling really tired, but made excuses each time something odd happened.
I got pains in my arms on a windy dog walk, then I couldn’t climb the stairs without becoming breathless; it was time to visit the doctor. My mother had a heart attack when she turned fifty, I was forty-seven.
Blood tests revealed I was badly anaemic. A blood transfusion and B12 injections brought temporary respite. Now the tests began in earnest, studying my body from lots of angles, asking copious questions about habits and history. I felt OK, a bit tired, I was not ready to hear I had cancer.
I won’t bore on about what followed, but I’m forever grateful that my job provided excellent healthcare. I was seen quickly and treated by expert surgeons, who cut out the cancer. By Christmas 2012 I was back home with my family. I felt fragile, but I’d come through.
I was given a second chance at life.
At my initial diagnosis, when they said the ‘C’ word, I couldn’t think of anything positive. My conscience berated me for how little I had done or achieved in my forty-seven years. I’d awarded myself a diploma for my two fantastic children, but it broke my heart to think I wouldn’t see what came next: what they’d study, who they would fall in love with, and the people they would become. So now I treasure every moment, praise them for each step forward they take. I hope I’ve given them the strongest wings to fly and a great toolkit to navigate the world.
I tied myself down with a mortgage at the tender age of 19. I’d never had spare cash to travel the world, nor had I fulfilled career aspirations. So when my surgeon gave me and my husband the wonderful news that the cancer had not spread, we were determined to make more memories together. I fully intended to grab life with both hands and go forward.
Honestly, it’s a bit exhausting “Living every day to the max,” especially if you are naturally timid and a couch potato! But now without guilt I’ll sit down to read, listen to music, and watch great films/shows. Mindful that I made a promise to reform, I’ve travelled more, in the UK as well as abroad. Also I’ve learned new skills and embraced experiences from which I might previously have shied away.
Participating in dog rescue
Driving blindfolded (with a seeing co-pilot who could only guide me by code words)
Participating in podcast / Twitter spaces
My new mantra is “Why not?” Whenever someone suggests I try something which I’d previously have considered too: bold, extravagant, far away, late, scary, I now respond: why not do it?
While I recuperated I read a lot, and felt boosted by erotic content – I always have. Hey I learned the ropes from the bonkbusters of the ‘70s through to Black Lace in the ‘00s. Now I perused e-books and online sites. Some of the free on-line fiction was so clumsily written that it promted me to consider writing my own erotica – was that arrogant, I hadn’t written creatively since my early teens. My old habit warned: “You’re daft and your kids will be embarrassed,” Second Chance voice said, “Why not give it a go?”
So I set up this blog : Pillow Talk, as a shop window for the fiction I was writing because, once I’d started, I couldn’t stop.
I soon heard about a conference for people who host adult sites. I wanted to learn what to guard against and how to monetize my blog. I was worried I may be trying to run before I could walk. “Wait til next year,” my old habit advised. “Why not do it?” My partner encouraged me.
I attended,and it was liberating to be my alter ego “Posy” for a whole weekend. Also knee tremblingly exciting to meet people whose writing I’d read and admired. I’d travelled to London on my own, I’d met total strangers with no side-kick (when you’re a wife and a mother, you barely go anywhere on your own!) At the talks and workshops, I learned new things, plus forging connections and making friends. Back home I took my blog in some different directions: sharing photos, writing toy reviews, but these weren’t my style and I pared my posts back to predominantly fiction.
Just like in real life, friends in a virtual community come and go. Some people, despite having masses of talent, cannot take the dedication required to keep blogging, they don’t build the habit. When ‘the thing’ happened in 2020 and the sex blogging community stopped being supportive and began to tear at itself, I didn’t stop writing, but my blogging habit faltered. It pushed me to find new ways to write (collaboration) and different places to post my work (Medium).
Over these precious ten years I have attained some of the new goals I set.
I’m proud to now call myself a writer. I have received nominations for creating sex positive fiction. My aspiration to see my fiction in print was achieved in ‘19 : Breaking Limits, an e-book anthology. In ‘20 I wrote a story about a newbie discovering kink, which features in Best Bondage Erotica Vol 2 – an anthology that is sold in mainstream shops – now I’ve ticked off three of my dreams.
During this ten year period, EL James and her 50 Shades series widened the acceptance of sexuality in literature. Still my side hustle as Posy isn’t something about which I’m ‘loud and proud’ in the wider community. It makes my loved ones uneasy. On the flip side, it would censure how I wrote, my ability to be open about past experiences, if I knew colleagues or neighbours could identify me by my words. However, my immediate family knows better than to suggest I stop doing what makes me happy.
Ten years on from that diagnosis and surgical intervention, I still say, “why not,” and “go for it.”
I continue to push myself to try new things and question my motives in case I am coasting or hiding from grabbing opportunities. Here are my most recent leaps of faith:
Chaired a book group within the kink community – loved doing it!
Encouraged to join my friend May More and start a magazine on Medium – why not?
Offered the chance to share content on Tickle.Life – I’m going for it
Invited by Marie Rebelle to judge the Fiction Marathon, (don’t ask) am I an expert? (say) I’ll do it
Asked by fellow writers to offer edits on their writing projects – Let me take a look
Self publish my own collection of short stories – Watch this space
Write a full length novel – (If I get a big enough idea) I want to.
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