Jayne Renault

Musings of a Smut Queen
Smut Saved My Life: Community Edition

Smut Saved My Life: Community Edition

As a now-proud introvert, my comfort in solitude has earned me a lot of success. It suited me throughout my academic career. It suited me as an avid taekwondo competitor. It definitely suits me still as a writer to this day.

But I wasn’t always this comfortable with my independence.

As it was for many of the best people, high school was rough because I didn’t have much for a social life; no friend group to speak of, nor or a sense of belonging. My depression was worse than I cared to admit mostly because I didn’t know any better — the real talks about mental health were only just starting to crop up. And I always managed to explain it away with logic: “It’s just school stress, family drama, not sleeping well, something else, anything else…”

In that time, I spent a lot of time thinking about how weird I was for wanting to be alone, and then grew even more upset when I hyper-focused on how lonely I was.

“Maybe everyone thinks you’re already hanging out with someone else,” my mom suggested more than once while I waited for someone else to want to spend time with me. Obviously, I scoffed at her. What a ridiculous thing to say, I thought every time.

I got along well with all kinds of people, and still do. I self-identify as a chameleon because of my ability to blend into almost any scene — I might not make a lasting impression, but at the very least, I generally manage to make myself seem like I belong.

Because I’m terrified of feeling like I don’t belong.

***

As time went on, I piled up some more life experience and became increasingly aware of what it was that I was lacking and what I sought.

I’ve been comfortable outside the bonds of a ‘serious relationship’ for nearly 8 years now, and I’ve never lamented that. I am, however, not a little obsessed with the notion of community and the fact that for most of my life, I feel like I haven’t had one.

I tried to bring my school friends together, but they all resented each other for some reason. (Being a chameleon doesn’t always work for playing group match-maker, I guess.) I joined clubs and teams in university but nothing ever really stuck. I got a job in the service industry but was never quite accepted as one of the gang.

My sitcom dream of having several close friends, along with a mutually-appreciated extended community, continued to be bafflingly elusive.

Lucky for me, however, this did make it easy to up and leave at the drop of a hat so as to move across the country to a city where I didn’t know a single soul, which ultimately set me up for this unlikely career in smut peddling.

***

There wasn’t ever really a formal plan, but even if there had been, being a smut queen wouldn’t have been on it.

Now that I’m here though, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

When I found that Craigslist ad back in the early days of 2016 looking for erotica writers (with or without experience, happy days!), I was actively looking or a reason to incentivize myself to write any kind of fiction. I’d never really properly considered smut before but it was a Friday night, I had the apartment to myself and an unopened bottle of red wine, and figured “What the fuck? Why not.” Four hours later, I had a story that was done enough to submit, and hit send, and masturbated my nerves away.

Turns out, I’m pretty okay at this smut writing racket because the ad poster, now formally known as Bellesa (NSFW), liked my work enough to call me back and eventually entrusted me with the responsibility of building their entire Erotica department.

With my renewed motivation and incentive to write — and the Bellesa platform in my corner — I dove headfirst in the vast virtual community of sex bloggers and smut writers that now lives on my Twitter feed. I was terribly nervous at first, of course.

What if I’m not good enough? What if they won’t accept me because they don’t now who I am and no one has ever heard of me? What if my limited experience in this sphere of writing makes them wary of me?

My worries were clearly unwarranted because never in my life have I met such a wonderful group of lovable weirdos. I couldn’t imagine a better, safer, more supportive place (for often socially anxious types like me ((and many of the others I have met along the way) with an ironically undying need to express themselves).

Even before I really made any noteworthy connections with anyone online, I decided to jump from an even higher ledge earlier this year by attending my first Eroticon — one of THE events for sex writers, bloggers, erotica authors, kink enthusiasts, etc, etc. that takes place in Camden, UK annually in March.

The mere notion of going into a convention full of strangers with no back-up to speak of terrified me beyond all reason. I left the Meet-and-Greet in anxious, panic-stricken tears before I could even finish my first pint. That’s not to scare you or garner pity; it’s to really hit home how even in spite of all that, it proved a monumental moment in the building of my smutty career. Because I met some truly remarkable people in that short amount of time who have been, and surely will continue to be invaluable influences in my life for years to come. Honestly, I couldn’t recommend it more to anyone even remotely considering attending in the future. So go get your tickets before they’re gone!

It’s been barely six months to the day since that weekend… And now here I am writing this gushy post from the dining room table of an AirBnb somewhere in the UK. (I won’t dare describe it as North, South, or something in between, because it will likely offend someone and I still don’t know enough yet about local cultural geography to make my case.) And I’m surrounded by seven brilliant, talented humans, all writing our hearts out for a good cause.

I’m tearing up as I type this because I’m so filled with gratitude and respect for these gorgeous humans whom I barely know but love beyond all reason. And for these opportunities that have come from putting an effort into these relationships.

In the meantime, I’ve somehow managed to find my way into the hearts of the Sisters in Smut and have gone on to become one of the sisters myself. I can say with confidence that my days are a lot better with that team of amazingly loving and supportive women in my back pocket. I wouldn’t have made it through some of my days these past few months without them.

All because I started crafting lewd stories one night when I was alone in my living room.

Being a smutty wordsmith may be my current job, but it’s more than a couple numbers on an invoice or the ‘likes’ I might get on any given Twitter post. Writing about and around sex is more than coming up with ways to help you get off or digging around in the dark, perverted recesses of my own mind (though that’s obviously a big part of the fun).

It can be an intense exercise in getting to know oneself in a powerful and meaningful way. But even more that than, for me, it has played a quintessential role in laying the foundations to discover and cultivate something I never thought I’d find in this lifetime: my community.

There doesn’t have to be a moral of the story. But if you want one, it’s that you never know what might happen when you open yourself up to possibility and do things that make you a feel a little (or maybe even a lot) vulnerable.

Oh, and don’t ever give up on your tribe. They’re out there. And they might only be a wank away.

Go on, show me your words.

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