“But Lexi Maxxwell isn’t real.”
That was what one of my best girlfriends (one of the few I can tell about Lexi) said after I shared a soul wrenching piece of writing I’m planning to publish here later this week.
I have to read it at least once more before I share it. I’ve read it, and cried several times already. I cried when I wrote it, too. I even cried when I thought about writing it.
But that’s par for the course: I’ve been crying a lot.
I’m a tough gal. But last year was hard, for a variety of reasons. Yet, in an odd way I’ve never felt stronger — or more ready to stick around and bare more of me for you.
I’ve never been this driven.
I’ve never been more hungry.
I’ve never been so creatively sparked.
It doesn’t matter that “Lexi” isn’t real, because I sure as hell am.
After a long and ranting hour-long explanation to my girlfriend — along with more tears — she got it, too.
Lexi isn’t just about selling books, she’s about affecting change.
She’s about making a difference.
She’s about moving people to feel better about themselves, one at a time — no matter how long that takes, or how much of me gets poured into my pen name.
My girlfriend finally got it, and once she did she wanted to wave the flag beside me. I hope you do, too.
I’ve been gone for a while, so I’d like to catch up. I’m not quite sure where to start, so I suppose we’ll go back to the beginning.
I’ve Always Wanted to be a Writer
When I was a little girl I used to make up stories. Constantly. I rarely wanted to do anything else. I thought dolls were stupid (and the crimes against humanity Monster High dolls hadn’t even been invented yet). Most of the time I pretended to think writing was kind of dumb, too, because though my family sometimes acted like they cared about what I wrote, none of them actually did.
Most of the time my brother and sister made fun of me. My mom was the nicest, and my dad the worst.
I love my dad, but he’s always thought writing was stupid. He figured I’d eventually grow out of what he saw as a juvenile pursuit, and wasn’t especially happy when I went off to college still determined to turn words into paychecks.
By then I’d mostly abandoned the dream of writing fiction. I figured my father was right: I’d be poor forever if I tried to sell stories, and I’d already had plenty of that. So I majored in journalism (just like Sam in my book Divorced).
But honestly, my heart was never really into it.
I grew up loving authors, not reporters. I graduated feeling like I was stepping into another person’s dream.
I fell into a marketing job almost immediately. It was creative and paid surprisingly well (definitely more than I expected). I was good at my work and quickly excelled. Clients liked what I did (even though some said I was a little too loud) and my bosses rewarded me well for my intelligence.
Yet through it all I felt a stir in my gut. I pushed it down when it bubbled, afraid of what might happen if I allowed the gurgle to grow too loud.
I got to write every day, but most of my words were designed to make people buy things.
I told myself I was content.
I had to be: I could never be an author.
That was my lot.
Dad was proud and that made me happy.
Or at least happy enough.
At the end of 2011 a gale came to sweep me from nowhere. It ripped the roof from my life and hurled me into Oz. I blinked at the color around me, unable to believe my eyes.
The eBook revolution had already happened, but I’d barely noticed since I was still a paper and ink girl. Fifty Shades hadn’t come to birth the phrase “mommy porn,” and I had yet to buy my first Kindle.
I clicked on a headline, read how much things had changed for writers like me, and knew life would never be the same.
I wanted what those writers had already grabbed for themselves, and I wanted it more than anything I’d ever wanted before.
I wasn’t sure what I would write (erotica was far from an automatic. Ironically, I’ve always wanted to write for children), but knew I had to get my stories out there.
But, I had a great job and my family was proud of me.
I had a lot to lose, too much to give up.
I didn’t want to hear that my dreams would amount to nothing.
I didn’t want to hear that I couldn’t do it.
I didn’t want to believe them.
My Life as a Secret
If I was writing in secret, why not write the most secretive stuff?
I’ve always loved erotica. I wrote dirty little stories to myself back when I first started reading the stuff, as barely more than a girl.
I almost saw it as sort of a joke (I’ve always appreciated the confluence of sex and humor), and using a fake name gave me the freedom to play. Honestly, I never expected to stick around too long. I figured I’d use the erotica space to “figure things out,” then move on to the genres “I really wanted to write.”
I never expected to feel so at home.
My earliest erotica was awful. Well, that’s not true. I think it’s actually pretty great for what it was, but what it was is so much less than what it is now.
I was going through a rough patch. I had just left a long term relationship and was having a lot of meaningless sex. A LOT of meaningless sex — many guys and a handful of girls. My writing reflected that.
I wrote single serving fantasies, exaggerated versions of the life I was already living. They were cathartic, written to get my readers off as much as myself.
Then something happened.
Something I never saw coming.
Something that changed my life and made me want to keep the name Lexi forever, if not legally change it.
Fan Mail Turned Me Inside Out
At first it was a trickle, one every few days, then came the flood.
One day I got 17 emails, all saying versions of the same thing.
Thank you, Lexi.
You say what I’ve always felt.
You’ve helped me in my relationships.
Your stories help me to feel less ashamed.
I feel like you’ve saved my life.
It embarrasses me to write that — it seems so grandiose — but it’s true. And as much as I might have helped those readers (unintentionally at first, believe me), they helped me in a way I never saw coming, and didn’t even know I needed.
But I did, and am better for it, even though I had more hard times ahead.
Because my readers cared, I started to care. I wanted to change my game. I stopped seeing my smutty stories as a commodity, and began to see them as the art they could one day become.
I don’t want to bore you with a lot of crap about the self-publishing industry, but essentially I made a decent amount of money in 2012 by leveraging free books on Amazon. I’d make something free, get a ton of reviews (I’ve always held a 4.9 out of 5-star average) from fans, then raise the price and enjoy a post free bump in sales.
But that stopped, and unfortunately I didn’t have a large enough fan base to support my paid work.
I hit a wall, and slammed into it hard enough to smash my pretty little nose.
2012 was good enough that I quit my job — the one I had worked hard to get, killed myself to keep, and made my family proud of who I was — but I did so prematurely.
I told everyone I was “working online,” because I “preferred the freelancing life,” which is a bit like preferring cholera to perfect health. In truth I was scrambling, hoping to get my art into the world and broadcast it in a way that would feed me.
It didn’t, and 2013 was the hardest year of my life.
Last year I had two relationships that absolutely did not work out. Both led me to tears. One was a guy (I’m sure I’ll tell you plenty about him later), and the other was my indie career. I took a lot of freelance work that I hated, and spent much of the year as a mess.
But I never sold-out.
I never returned to the single-serving fantasies.
I never allowed myself to be anyone other than me.
But I’m not willing to be a starving artist, and if I spend another year trying to make ends meet writing copy I loathe, I’ll have a spectacular suicide and make national news.
But you’ll never know it was me.
I spent the last bit of last year building my personal bridge to a better tomorrow. I told the asshole who didn’t treat me with the respect I deserve to get the fuck out of my life (I should have known he wasn’t for me when I realized I could never tell him about Lexi), and started designing my perfect 2014.
By late October I was impatiently tapping my foot as I waited for the new year.
I couldn’t wait to get going.
But then I hit the roughest patch of all.
I can’t get into specifics — it isn’t right despite the anonymity — but I can say it had to do with my family, and the events left me feeling more conflicted than I’ve ever felt before.
I was raised to feel ashamed, and that shame threatens to eat me.
That shame threatened Lexi.
And I almost allowed it.
I came close to surrender, inches from giving it up: the name, the stories, the dream.
But I didn’t.
Now I’m here for good. But the thing that happened left me so devastated that I didn’t have it in me to write.
So I built this beautiful site instead.
The marketing firm I used to work for built some remarkable websites, and I was lucky to learn a lot from the sidelines. It felt fantastic to finally put that knowledge to work. I had some help from a few friends who know about Lexi, and who have helped me to shape my ideas, but most of what you see here is me.
You’ll notice that X-Art is a big partner. It’s going to take a while to get my books selling well enough to keep me from crappy freelance jobs, but I’m hoping my deal with X-Art will soften the hardship until then.
Essentially, I have affiliate links sprinkled throughout the site. Like most girls I don’t really care for porn all that much, but then again I don’t consider X-Art porn at all.
X-Art is erotica, the visual version of what I write each day. I have nothing against porn whatsoever, it’s just never done all that much for me. But X-Art does it for me all the time.
I’m hoping it does something for you, too. And that if it does, I hope you’re willing to sign up by clicking over from my site to theirs. I’ll get a percentage of your membership if you sign up, and that percentage will help me take fewer awful jobs.
Either way, this site saved me. I learned a lot while making it, and hope you love the result.
I’ll be publishing something new here each weekday, Monday through Friday. There will be free stories at least twice a week. I’ll be watching X-Art movies as I always do (they’ve inspired sex scenes in much of my work) and hoping to make a few commissions.
But even if you never click, you can still enjoy those stories for free.
I’ll also be creating photo galleries, writing confessionals, and even giving some sex advice. Personal advice, from my heart to yours, meant to improve your life.
But the most important thing I’ll be writing here at Lexi Maxxwell dotcom: Smut For Smart People
Each week I’ll be writing something right from my heart (not too different from the post you’re reading right now). Words to make you feel, think and maybe reach toward a better life.
I’ll be back on Thursday with the first of these special posts: The Truth About Erotica (that’s the one that made me cry).
In the meantime, I’d love it if you shared what you’ve just read. I’m back in a big way, so please follow me wherever you like to spend time. I promise I won’t be a ghost like I’ve been guilty of being before.
If you’ve not yet joined Club Lexi, what are you waiting for?
Stay sexy …
~ Lexi Maxxwell