Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "People do not deserve to have good writing, they are so pleased with bad." This November, thousands of people will crack the spines on new notebooks or open empty Word docs to write "Chapter 1" at the top of a blank page while praying that Emerson was right. As you likely know, November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), in which participants attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel in just 30 days. There is no prize for winning, save for the knowledge that you thought of so many words, and in a row. Yet NaNoWriMo has proven through its explosive popularity that we can never underestimate the willingness of people to clumsily pile sentences together, even when no one is listening and they have nothing to say.
And with any luck, this year I will be one of those people. I am participating in NaNoWriMo, but I'm aiming for a more tangible prize than a 400KB document cluttering up my hard drive. I want some goddamn money. I've opted to write a novel in the only genre that guarantees to sell regardless of quality: hardcore erotic fiction.
[Editorial Note: There's no such thing as "a picture of genitals high-fiving." Even if there were, you already know we wouldn't run it.]
Below, I've provided excerpts -- a taste, a kiss -- of the stylishly subtle romance novel I've been working on the past few days and I'm hoping as writers you can offer me some feedback. If you help me now, I assure you that when Naked as Fuck hits the shelves and everyone at your local airport is clamoring for a copy, I will give you one for free. As a disclaimer, all of the characters and circumstances are fictional and born from my spectacular imagination, so it's no use trying to find real-world analogues of any of them. They simply don't exist. Now, light a few candles and settle into the most arousing chair in your home or office, because you're in for a tender treat. If you are in the bathtub, get out of the bathtub. You know better than to put your computer that close to water. We talked about how dangerous that is. Use your head, for God's sake.
With the last circuit soldered, the heap jolted. Don flipped up the face of his welding helmet and stared. What had seconds ago been only a collection of wires and twisted metal convulsed now into something more, something living. An arm flailed, then found its course and righted itself, slowly, irrefutably making its way to the being's heart. The skinless jaw fell open, as if to breathe.
"Glory, glory hallelujah" it sang. Don mouthed the words along with it.
"I am James K. Polk" it rattled, "11th president of the Unit-"
"Shhh," whispered Don. "I know. I know who you are. I built you."
With Monroe, with Pierce, even with Grant, he had been detached. He had fingered their wires and turned their screws with the cold calculations of an engineer, but with Polk it was different. There was love. He had savored the creation, he had birthed Polk like a mother. Don loved presidents, but a single-term leader who did exactly what he set out to do in four years had a way of standing out from the pack. "You can't rush that," thought Don. "You can't rush the really good ones."
The being's eyes rolled in its metal head, searching the room, searching for understanding, searching for eyelids.
"I'll complete your face soon. I just ... I had to see you." Don played with a flat-head screwdriver as he spoke. "This is home. You live here now. The Hall of Presidents."
Polk's head fell to one side, his gaze landing on Adams, or maybe Washington. It was hard to tell.
"I turned the others off for now to give us some privacy," said Don.
"I am James K. Polk," it said again.
"I'm Don O'Bangin," said Don O'Bangin, allowing his hand to rest on the cold steel of Polk's animatronic cheek. "I gave you life. I am your God, and once I've added the rest of your artificial skin, I'm going to make love to you, slowly. I just ..." Don struggled to find the right words. "I just wanted you to know first, so it could be special."
Don would be sure to coat all the important parts first.
The being stared, then nodded, just as it was programmed to do. Don had not anticipated how arousing it would be to see Polk like this, unfinished and truly naked in a way that no human could ever be. Best of all, only Don would ever see the president, every president, in such an intimate way. He smiled, and had Polk any lips, he would have, too. "This is the best job in the world," thought Don.
"Glory, glory hallelujah" sang the robot. "Our God is marching on."
It was their sixth night in the canyon, but the first that they needed a fire. Rubber poked at the cinders and estimated that her tribe would be a day and a half behind them, and gaining. She stood at the edge of the darkness beyond the fire, pulling in sensory information humans have no access to. If only her people could see what was right in front of them. If only they bothered to open their eyes and recognize that this was an unstoppable, inescapable force of love that bound these two together. Well, technically these three together, if you count the coyote she was trapped inside. But some people are afraid of the truth. They're not willing to look it in the face, eye to eye, and kiss it on the lips.
"It will frost in the morning," said Rubber.
"We will keep each other warm," said the princess, telepathically.
"Do you want some more mescaline?" Rubber asked.
"No," she said, in the back of his skull. "But I think you should have more."
"OK," he relented.
Minutes, or maybe nights later, the yips started. Distant at first, and then closer, just beyond their camp. The princess yipped back, communicating with the wild beasts. She pulled at her makeshift leash.
He could see it written in her bristling fur, in her steaming breath: She wanted to be with them.
Curse you, biology.
"I see. So just like that, then?" Rubber shouted to keep his voice from quivering. "After everything I did for you?"
She tugged again, howling now to the shadows beyond the fire.
"You want to run off with them? Fine. Fine! Go ahead, but know that I cared about you more than anything in the world. I adored you! I adore you." He pulled his knife from its sheath and severed the rope that bound the two together like veins to a heart, like the invisible tendrils of love.
"You misunderstand, Rubber Buckway," she said, because that was his name. "I'm not calling to them because I want to go. I'm calling because they are other princesses trapped in the bodies of coyotes, and I want them to know you as the hero I've come to love."
As she spoke, true to her word, the other Indian ghosts encroached from the darkness in the form of wild dogs, their teeth bared in reverence for Rubber.
"They think you are the most handsome man they have ever seen," she said. "They want to know if you would be willing to have an orgy with all the princesses. That means have sex with all of them at the same time."
"I know what 'orgy' means."
"I think it's a good idea."
"Then, yeah. Sure. Let's do that," he agreed. He could never say no to her.
With everyone in agreement, the dogs rushed at him in a fit of passion, longing just to touch him, to feel him, to absorb him. They all pulled in separate directions, ripping at his clothes, kissing at his face with their jaws. As one being, they tumbled around in the dust between sandstone walls, loving one another recklessly, violently. He felt the playful bites of the coyotes as they explored his body, eager to have Rubber inside of them, tearing at his flesh in a flurry of passion.
"Be patient," he said, but with his mind, because his throat was being carried off in the frothing mouth of some princess. "We have a day and a half at least."
It was pure ecstasy.