Last week I talked with you about the importance of unrealistic dreaming. This week, I want to show you how I made my unrealistic dream a reality, how I turned a love for a topic that everyone said I should avoided into a successful (and fun!) career.
On December 22, 2017, I was invited to speak at Creative Mornings San Diego on the subject of Context. So, of course, I chose to talk about pornography, one of my favorite subjects. I centered my speech around this one central theme:
Find something you love and you’ll find a way to make others love it as well.Find something you love and you'll find a way to make others love it as well. Click To Tweet
Watch the video of the speech or read the full speech below, then I want to know: How can you take what you love and put it into context for others to appreciate as well?
I want to know. Email me your answer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy this talk!
On Context, my speech for Creative Mornings San Diego
My part runs from 5:55 – 10:52.
Prefer to read the transcript?
Here’s the speech as I wrote it. It’s a bit different than the final speech given, but that’s what happens when you’re live. 🙂
When I first started writing about pornography, people warned me it would ruin my career.
In their defense, I was in law school at the time and most judges and firms would frown upon hiring an expert on such a risqué topic.
But I loved pornography. Not necessarily the images and videos themselves – although that can be great too – but what porn means on a social and political level. I can tell a lot about a person by the way they react to the topic of pornography. And you can tell a lot about a society by how they try to regulate it.
So while my fellow law students found their niches of environmental law or trusts and estates, I dove deep into obscenity laws.
Did you know that for a long time the legally deciding factor of whether something was obscene or not was “I know it when I see it?” Which meant that the United States Supreme Court Justices would go down into the courthouse basement and watch porn to decide it was obscene and should be banned.
Just imagine that for a moment. Old white guys in robes sitting in a basement watching porn that’s been deemed too obscene for the general public.
It’s ridiculous and exactly why I loved writing about this topic.
So while people warned me about boxing myself into such a specific and controversial field and becoming known as “the porn lady”, I dove deeper into the topic, specifically focusing on the rising movement of queer and feminist porn, porn that showed bodies like mine – porn that often starred my friends.
And I was good at it. I was really good at it. My love and respect for this topic shown through and soon I had columns in multiple magazines, was interviewed by news outlets, and got invites to speak at conferences and colleges, including Yale.
Yes, I was invited to speak about pornography at Yale.
Try explaining that to your grandparents.
The context changed depending on my audience – embracing your niche for the mommy bloggers, protecting yourself from lawsuits for the sex educators, the way obscenity laws adversely affect marginalized groups for the activists – and I found ways to make conversations about pornography accessible to those who would otherwise have avoided the topic.
I became the kind of success story they talk about in business school. I found a hole in the market, created a niche for myself out of that hole, and dominated that niche.
So what people said would destroy my career ended up making it.
But I will say this, they were right on one thing: it did define me. Like hamburgers define McDonald’s and slaying defines Beyoncé, queer porn defined me.
And you’d be surprised at what kind of doors were opened simply because I had a definition of who I am – even if who I am is the “porn lady”.
Eventually my curiosity in the subject was satiated and I turned my attention to other topics, but the connections and professional credibility I gained through writing and speaking about pornography still benefit me today.
Now, I’m a full-time writer, speaker and coach helping people and companies discover their unique story and tell it to the world. Each time I take on a new coaching client, I tell them my history of talking about porn. First off, it eliminates people I wouldn’t want to work with anyways. But more importantly it gives them permission to get specific, to go niche, and to be daring in their creative and professional pursuits.
It’s all about context I tell them. Find a subject you love and you’ll find a way to make others love it too.
So I encourage all here to do the same, to dig a little deeper, go a little farther into your niche, and to have the audacity to follow your curiosity, wherever it might take you.
Because if you’re going to be defined by something, it might as well be something you love.
I would love to know where your curiosity takes you, so if you feel like sharing you can find me at info@LaurenMarieFleming.com.
This week’s resources for you:
- Creative Mornings is a great program that hosts talks and chats with creatives all around the world. Check out their site to see if there is one near you.
- Don’t know what you love yet? Use journaling to find out with my free course.
- Lambda Literary has a new prize for lesbian non-fiction.
- How does a script go from written to sold? Check out this interview with Liz Hannah, screenwriter of The Post.
- I love this from Liz Hannah: “18 months ago I almost gave up on my dream of being a writer. I decided that if I was going to, I couldn’t before I tried to write the story I’d wanted to write for years. This is that story. Dreams really do come true. If you don’t believe me, just look in a theater near you.”
- Speaking of inspirational, I love this quote from Lena Waithe: ““I don’t know what a character wants until I know what they dream about.”