It seems like a simple thing. You make up a story. You write it. People read it.
Except that none of those are simple. Each is a painful task. We concentrate on the middle one here.
You Write It.
We talk about characters and technique and style, grammar, method, the senses. Each of these are important, but as Lucy Felthouse mentioned in her post, when you're writing (first draft, I'll assume she means), you have to let go of all that and just write. In the first draft, give your story good bones. Flesh it out from there. But even when you've written a technically fine piece, it may still lack that spark that makes a story live.
I'm rewriting the third book in a series. I thought I had it done, so I sent it out to beta readers. By a third novel, you'd think I'd be past the need for them, but I'm not. Two of my beta readers had some interesting things to say, things I needed to hear, things I already knew deep down but didn't want to admit because I wanted to be done. And while Nan and Ali didn't say this in so many words, what I was hearing - through my special filter that lets me hear things people never intended to say - was 'What are you afraid of?' Because both called me out, in their very polite ways, for backing off writing two scenes I found difficult to write. My characters talked about those events happening, but I couldn't bring myself to show it to the reader. And here's the part that makes me roll my eyes at myself - I knew that.
But enough about me. What about you?
Erotica is difficult to write. Everyone seems to think its so easy, but its incredibly hard (go ahead and giggle. I'll wait). The first few times, you might be embarrassed to write those words, or to envision a sex scene in detail then rewind your mental movie of it and watch it all over again in slow motion many, many times until you've got every moment down. Having made that leap into the transgressive side of the street - as Remittance Girl might call it - you'd think we'd be able to boldly explore, to peel layers back and examine what lies beneath, to be frank and unapologetic. But I find it isn't so. Nothing physical daunts me, but raw emotion is the stuff of my writing nightmares and I will perform all sorts of literary tricks to get around it.
What is the hardest thing for you to write? What would it take to make you face it?
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Posted by Kathleen Bradean at 3:00 AM
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
By Lucy Felthouse
As you know, lots of the other regular contributors to this blog pen some fabulous posts about the technicalities of writing, how to do it, how to improve, how to get inspired, and so on. A couple of recent examples being Three Workouts for Erotic Writers and Writing exercise - the canzonetta.
I don't tend to write posts like that. I'm not one for the technicalities. Yes, I've got a degree in Creative Writing, I know how to write, I know how to spell and I know how to use an apostrophe (though I still occasionally wrestle with them). As long as I get to the end of a story, a novella or a full-length book and it's correct and I'm happy with it, I don't worry about anything else. That's not because I don't care. It's because I've gotten to the stage where I have to trust myself, trust my ability to write. If I get bogged down in the technicalities, the many, many tiny elements that make up a piece of writing, I'm at risk of sinking into that bog and never finishing anything.
So I write what comes into my head, or from an outline I've sketched out, and I let the words flow naturally. Let my characters and the situation dictate what is said or done next. I put my backside in the chair, my fingers to the keyboard, and hope that what arrives on the screen isn't a load of crap. And when it's finished, I edit, tweak, polish and improve until it's the best I can possibly make it. Then I hope like hell that someone will accept it.
So, what do you think? As long I've done my very best work, is it okay not to be worried about... everything?
Monday, April 21, 2014
By Lisabet Sarai
“Score” is one of his more light-hearted offerings. Jack and Elvira are a sophisticated, swinging couple who compete in their seductions. They set their sights on Eddie and Betsy, a pair of apparently innocent newlyweds. However, this is swinging with a twist. Elvira lays her snares to attract and corrupt angelic-looking Betsy, while Jack is determined to fulfill Eddie's barely-suppressed homoerotic fantasies.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
It's the 19th of April - the wettest month of the year in many locations. Today's your chance to add to the general soaked state of the world by posting your Sexy Snippets!
The ERWA blog is not primarily intended for author promotion. However, we've decided we should give our author/members an occasional opportunity to expose themselves (so to speak) to the reading public. Hence, we have declared the 19th of every month at the Erotica Readers and Writers Association blog Sexy Snippet Day.
On Sexy Snippet day, any author can post a tiny excerpt (200 words or less) in a comment on the day's post. Include the title from with the snippet was extracted, your name or pseudonym, and one buy link, if you'd like.
Friday, April 18, 2014
A few weeks ago a friend sent me a link to an article entitled: “Why Is It So Hard for Women to Write About Sex?” by Claire Dederer (The Atlantic Monthly, February 19, 2014). I clicked the link expecting something along the lines of an article I read at the end of the last century when I first started writing dirty stories, this one by Jane Smiley, who confessed that she was writing a new book with explicit sex scenes and found herself blushing as she wrote. After all, ladies aren’t supposed to descend to explicit descriptions of sex that might arouse, even while they touch upon topics like incest for the sake of literature.
However, to my surprise, The Atlantic article contained a new twist on the reason good girls feel shame when they write about sex. You see, Dederer is writing a memoir about sex, “specifically about having an awful lot of it awfully young—too young—as a teenager in the 1980s.” So far so good, in terms of a surefire hook for the publisher’s sales department. Yet Dederer’s difficulty with the writing process reportedly lies in the fact that she was and is ambivalent about sex, an experience of “doubt braided tightly with the desire.” More than that, apparently she actually thinks during sex and somehow got the message this is bad and she shouldn’t let anyone know that she does this. (I got that message, too, but have mostly moved beyond, thanks to erotica!)
Without going into a detailed summary of the article, what struck me most is that while Dederer acknowledges that female sexuality is seen as normal and real in our times, she worries that her attempts to express ambivalence, complexity or anything other than the sentiment that sex-is-awesome-give-me-more will make her “seem anti-woman, or anti-sex, or anti-sexual-woman (or just a downer).”
Moreover, according to Dederer, men don’t have this problem because their desire is visible in the uncomplicated form of an erection. Which, gentlemen, I hope you will agree, is a brutal simplification of the male experience of sex in our culture. Surely you feel ambivalence, know complexity, suffer pressure to speak of sex in certain accepted ways rather than challenge the cliches with honesty?
I’m not sure which bothers me more, the dehumanizing assertion that male sexuality is uncomplicated because we can see boners or the assumption that women are now allowed to write about sex but are only allowed to do so in positive and uncomplicated terms in order to affirm that women feel desire? As erotica writers, we are all aware of the restrictions of genre upon our writing, but I hadn’t realized it was this bad over in Literary Land. No wonder Dederer finds it hard to write about sex.
But for Dederer the landscape is not totally bleak. She has discovered a few female literary models that give her inspiration when she sits down to write about “giving a blow job to that creepy hippie Malcolm in the patchouli-smelling van in 1984.” One writer in particular, Lidia Yuknavitch, intrigued me enough to place a request for her novel, The Chronology of Water, through interlibrary loan. I liked the scene Dederer quoted from competitive swimmer Yuknavitch’s memoir about ogling the older female swimmers when she was a girl. At first she claimed to be horrified and disgusted, but in a humorous twist in the very next paragraph she confessed to being enthralled and aroused by their strong, hairy bodies.
Alas for the foes of sexual shame, The Chronology of Water yielded but another means to silence a writer taking tentative steps toward honest sexual expression. Allow me to share an extended passage from the introduction to Yuknavitch’s memoir written by her fellow writing group member, Chelsea Cain, the author of numerous best-selling thrillers.
“Chuck Palahniuk brought up the idea of inviting her. ‘She writes this literary prose,’ he told us. ‘But she’s this big-breasted blond from Texas, and she used to be a stripper and she’s done heroin.’ Needless to say, we were impressed.
I already wanted her to sit by me.
There was more. Chuck told us that some really famous edgy writer—I didn’t recognize her name, but I pretended that I did—had given a talk at a conference about the State of Sex Scenes in Literature and she’d said that all sex scenes were shit, except for the sex written by Lidia Yuknavitch. Maybe Chuck didn’t tell us that. But someone in the group did. I don’t remember. I think I was still thinking about the stripper thing. A real-life ex-stripper in our writing group! So glamorous.
Yes, we said, invite her. Please.
She showed up a few weeks later, wearing a long black coat. I couldn’t see her breasts. She was quiet. She didn’t make eye contact. She did not sound like she was from Texas.
Frankly, I was a little disappointed.
Where was the big hair, the Lucite platform heels? The track marks?
Had Chuck made the whole thing up? (He does that sometimes.)
How was he describing me to people?”
Wait, the great Chuck Palahniuk sponsored Yuknavitch for his writing group (even if he does stretch the truth a bit in introducing her)? Does it get cooler than that? But alas, I’m sure ERWA writers are all too familiar with Cain’s preconceptions about women who write about sex or have experience as sex workers or even have large breasts—we’re slutty exhibitionists who provide great material for characters in thrillers, never people with demure wardrobes and complex or even introverted personalities.
The most notable part of this excerpt, however, is the proclamation by the unnamed but famously edgy writer that Lidia Yuknavitch is the only writer on the face of the earth who can write good sex scenes. That’s right, folks, there’s only room for one voice to speak to us about sex in The Right Way!
Before we dismiss the unnamed famous writer’s opinion as a theatrical gesture—or a paid endorsement—might I point out that holding up some legendary stud or beguiling courtesan as a model against which ordinary mortals fall short is a time-honored way to shame people about their real sexuality. Allowing only a small elite of sexual superstars permission to express their experiences is another effective way of silencing the rest of us. Clearly the only thing worse than having ordinary sex is writing about sex in a way that doesn’t crown you as the bestest, coolest sex writer ever.
But remember, this only works if we feel shame about our sexuality and our ability to express it. It probably sells a lot of books, too, this idea that one gifted individual has a special knowledge and skill in sex writing that no one else can match. We eagerly reach for enlightenment from without and, for me at least, always come away unsatisfied.
Given that the literati seem to buy that there are but a very few acceptable ways to write about sex mere decades after respectable people were finally given permission to write about it at all, a question bears asking—how much progress have we really made when it comes to the opportunity to express sexual experience with honesty, whether that be joyful, dark, or a combination of the two? In my opinion, ERWA writers consistently and generously illustrate how well this can be done, even if The Atlantic isn’t giving us equal time to talk about how fun and easy it is. At the same time, we do live in a sex-phobic culture that is very adept at twisting old weapons into new ones to keep too many people scared they'll do it wrong.
Here is the dirty secret beneath all of this judgment and angst—if you want to write your truth about sex, you can’t do it wrong. There is room for many voices and many experiences, the more the better. Each of us can make up his or her own mind about what touches, amuses, arouses, angers or even shames us.
Start there and writing about sex becomes much easier.
And so I send my best wishes to all courageous writers who speak their erotic truth in spite of the cultural forces aligned against us. May you all, woman or man, find writing about sex inspiring, soul-expanding and challenging in the best of ways.
Donna George Storey is the author of Amorous Woman (recently released as an ebook) and a new collection of short stories, Mammoth Presents the Best of Donna George Storey. Learn more about her work at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com or http://www.facebook.com/DGSauthor
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
- Write down an erotic fantasy about a sexual experience you would have in a minute if it were offered to you, no questions asked. It should be about something you would have no reservations or conditions about doing in real life.
- Write down an erotic fantasy about a sexual experience you would have only under certain conditions. You could give yourself up whole heartedly under these conditions, but otherwise not at all.
- Write down an erotic fantasy that is completely satisfying to you in your imagination but that you could not do either because it is physically impossible or something you could never bring yourself to do in real life. But in your imagination it is completely fulfilling.
- Uncle Tony
- Yoko Ono
- Brad Pitt
- Justin Bieber
- Ernest Hemingway
- Count Dracula
- Eating Breakfast
- Walking the dog
- Waiting in a line
- Paying bills
Posted by Garceus at 12:30 AM