1. Ashleigh
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    Ashleigh Contributing Member Contributor

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    What Are Your Thoughts On Erotica?

    Discussion in 'Erotica' started by Ashleigh, May 23, 2011.

    So let's cut the chase and save this thread from getting dull before it starts; we all know sex sells. We know that Erotica and Romance, as genres, are often considered to be cheap and commercial. They're often considered flat, puddle-deep and written in a formulaic way. Lots of people call this stuff trash - some people like trash - but they call it trash none the less.


    However, some people love Erotica, and believe the absolute opposite of all the above. Personally, I have read some amazing erotic scenes in profound literary fiction, which serve an obvious purpose and yet seem to make the piece really shine. There's trash and there's gold, like any genre, I guess.

    But that's not what we're here to talk about - so leave the debates out of it, please.

    -------------------------------------------------------------

    Here's my problem:

    I love writing, and have been published 4 times now in anthologies (6 acceptances - two couldn't continue because the publisher had a near-fatal accident. Oops). That's all great. I'm on the right track.

    The problem is that the story I enjoyed writing most, wrote best and am incredibly proud of, happens to be in a lesbian Vampire erotica anthology.

    I know what you're thinking - it's probably trash, right? Wrong! I wrote my story with depth and great care. Everything was logical. My prose was as detailed and stylised as it was entertaining (IMO - it's the only story of mine which I've 100% liked once it's finished). Others can disagree with me, but I truly am proud of what I achieved when I wrote this piece. For me, it was a giant step forward.

    Amazingly, I've been picked to be published amongst a whole list of successful romance authors.The editor herself is well-known in this movement. The payment is semi-pro for short stories and, although it's still not much, it's the most I've ever been paid for small piece. That news felt like a million when I got that acceptance. There's blog touring and promotional writing involved too, so I get loads of publicitiy for myself and my writing blog. I've never had this much of a result from my other stories.

    Deep down, I'm really proud. So why am I also experiencing this sense of shame?

    Part of me feels ashamed that I enjoyed writing this stuff so much. I'm embarrassed to admit it's erotica out loud. I'm terrified about my family finding out - when my two copies come in the mail, I'm gonna have to hope nobody opens the boxes. I plan on hiding these anthologies away, when really I want to display them. Most of all, I'm worried that, despite my story being of a good quality ( I know that's debatable) this makes me a rubbish, commercial writer.

    On top of it all, there's another open submission, and my fingertips are tingling. I know I can come up with a really cool, yet steamy story. I almost feel kind of...glamorous. I like having control of sensuality in my stories.

    Am I going down a bad route? Am I just dabbling here, answering my true calling, or writing utter rubbish because I'm just not good enough?

    Are there any romance/erotica/dabbling writers here who understand my problem?

    What do you think I should do about this situation?

    Can my family and friends ever know about this?!
     
  2. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    I personally don't like Erotica. Not because of the quality, but because I feel uncomfortable with the subject matter. I had to read 'Couples' by John Updike, and I was embarrassed reading it. It was practically rubbish porn. I don't want to read that.

    Anyway, that aside, I think you should write what you want to write. If you enjoy writing Erotica, then write it. Don't let anyone else stop you. If you're worried about other people, then perhaps use a pen name.
     
  3. IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer
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    IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer Member

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    The fact that you're writing it (and putting enough effort into it to make it publishable, and actually get it published) despite your concerns about "what others might think" indicates that this really does matter to you. Which is a strong argument for sticking with it.

    As to whether you can tell them -- well, that's something only you can decide. This is the thing where it would be easy to say "just do your thing, who cares what they think?" But, you DO care what they think, your you wouldn't have posted. And sometimes people just aren't going to "get it", or even accept it.

    But as someone who (for myself) has absolutely zero interest in the genre you're writing, from what you say, it sounds like a good creative outlet for you. And you shouldn't let anyone make you feel guilty for enjoying it (unless having it as a guilty pleasure is part of the fun).

    I also think the wondering-what-people-will-think happens to writers regardless of genre. There's always that "ok, what are people who read this going to think it says about me that I write this?" question. I think fighting past that is one of the hardest things about writing.
     
  4. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Am I going down a bad route? Am I just dabbling here, answering my true calling, or writing utter rubbish because I'm just not good enough?

    A route that involves semi pro publishing credits can never be a bad route. It sounds like you have a passion for this genre so perhaps this is your true calling. Or perhaps it's a stepping stone to something else.

    Are there any romance/erotica/dabbling writers here who understand my problem?

    Not my genre, but I can empathize I suppose.

    What do you think I should do about this situation?

    Ride the wave. You've built up momentum with these short story sales, and got your foot in the doorway. So continue writing what you're good at and build your list of publishing credits further. Then if you ever feel the need to explore another 'less controversial' genre at least you have an extensive bio. Of course I'm not talking about crossing over to a historical thriller , but a genre like paranormal romance or urban fantasy could be easier to break into if you've already got published pieces about vampires/ werewolves and such (even if they're erotica)

    Can my family and friends ever know about this?!
    That would depend on your family and how conservative they are. But to avoid shackling your writing with needless limitations I would avoid letting your family and friends in on the secret just yet. Once they know about your stories, their views on any subsequent stories you write would gnaw at your mind. You might be afraid to write certain things solely because you're afraid of what the people you know might think.
     
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  5. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Your ashamed because society (and often other writers) kinda sorta tells you to be. If you wrote it and it was good enough to be published you have every right to be proud of it. Not everyone is going to like it, not everyone is going to approve of it, not everyone is going to understand it. The same goes for every other type of writing. It's really no different. You could live in a catholic family and write a story about God being a myth and face the same issues couldn't you? As a general rule sexuality makes people uncomfortable but that would be their problem not yours. If I were you I'd treat it the same way I would religion (calm down people, don't shoot me) be proud of what you believe in but don't push it on anyone. If they ask, tell them. If they want to see, show them. In your own space, feel free to display them.
     
  6. Caldenfor
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    Caldenfor Member

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    As long as you aren't hurting anyone, what is the problem? Don't let society get you down. If you feel you put in the effort to develop a great story you shouldn't feel bad about it.

    I wouldn't go around trying to autograph copies for strangers though!

    Yes, I have learned to use red text to emphasize statements that aren't intended to be taken 100% seriously. I also edited to be a little less risque, though the premise stands.
     
  7. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally if I were to write Erotica I'd have done it under a pen name. I don't think my parents or my family would really care that I wrote erotica. It's just I'd rather not let them know. It's more because I'd feel rather awkward around them for awhile. I don't do well with awkward situations, especially when I am at the center.

    Personally I see nothing wrong about writing erotica. Hell I have enjoyed a few erotic stories myself. I also don't think it's some sign that you are a bad writer or should be seen as anything less then a good one. Because I think it would take a bit of talent to pull off an erotic story that's worth reading.


    But I don't know what your family is like. But if for now this is something you would want to persue I say go for it. You should feel proud of what you accomplished and not ashamed

    Besides.

    Vampire Lesbians.

    Nothing wrong with that. :cool:
     
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  8. AltonReed
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    AltonReed Active Member

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    What is Erotica at its core?

    If its just a story about two people having sex written for someone else to... enjoy... then it is going to be pretty naff.

    If there's an actual plot, with sex in it, then thats not a problem, is it? I don't want to google 'Erotica' incase somthing odd comes up, but what actually is the definition?
     
  9. Caldenfor
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    Caldenfor Member

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    As long as it isn't Erotica Non-Fiction, one shouldn't have to feel awkward or ashamed.

    I guess it all comes down to how one would want their mind to be perceived. Once it is known that it has been written by someone, you know that their mind is capable of thinking in such ways, regardless of their own personal tastes and beliefs.

    Everyone is weird. If someone were to be normal then I would just wonder as to what is wrong with them.
     
  10. Ashleigh
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    Ashleigh Contributing Member Contributor

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    First of all, thanks so much for the replies everyone. It means alot.

    To answer a couple of the recent questions: My piece, I feel, is alot more than just sex between two people. There's background, detail and a build-up of their relationships. There's a hook which (I hope) will draw the reader into my characters' lives and the importance of how their story unfolds. I think that's what makes my story go beyond the stigma of this particular genre, hence why I'm proud of it.

    It's the title "Erotica" and the assumption of "poor fiction" and "trash" that goes with it which bothers me. That's all opinion, though...I think it's very true that this comes with the job. No matter what genre you write in, there's always a crowd who critisize it. Come to think, I actually call it Paranormal Romance when promotoing because I feel it's more tasteful. "Erotica" just sounds so...Ick.

    However, I guess my family might be slightly mortified if they knew I liked writing about sex. It'd be awkward for all of us if they had such blunt proof that the baby of the family has grown into a full woman, hah. I suppose I won't tell them unless I feel it's important.

    Please keep your comments coming, guys. My confidence is already rising, and I find it really helpful to know what you guys think. :) Thanks!
     
  11. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    I did it for you (I ain't skeert :p)

    According to Merriam Webster Online Dictionary:

    Erotica:

    1. Literary or artistic works having an erotic theme or quality

    2. Depictions of things erotic

    According to the Free online dictionary:

    Erotica: Literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire.


    Hmmmm.... doesn't sound all that terrible :p
     
  12. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I write M/M erotica, also with multiple anthology pieces published -- however so far only the romances have been published but this should hopefully change towards the end of the year -- yet I don't understand where the problem is?

    Did you never tell anyone your interests? My family don't know details but they do know some of my published work is M/M romance and that I mostly read erotic fiction. For one, the number of books in my room with naked men and women on the covers are a complete giveaway - after the compulsory and awkward, "Is there anything you need to tell us?" conversation everything was cool - they get on my back more about me reading Boy George's autobiography than they do about fiction. :p The only person who has ever tried to scold me about the choice in genre was an ex, and his argument was, "You're wasting your talent on writing sleaze." Bah.

    Write what you want and share it with friends and family only if you really want to. Your novel, your rules.
     
  13. Ashleigh
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    Ashleigh Contributing Member Contributor

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    The women in my family are total prudes. I love them dearly, but I hate to think of them seeing me in what they consider to be a bad light. They've all got dirty senses of humour, but when it actually comes down to it, I think they'd all be pretty embarrassed. I wouldn't be in any trouble with them exactly, but I think it'd shatter that nice-girl image they have of me.

    I mean, I have to pretend my boyfriend and I do little more than kiss and cuddle even though we're both 20 and we've been together 2 years and 6 months. It's a subject which makes them uncomfortable, therefore I feel very shy about sharing it.

    Honestly, you should see my mum's face when she sees me read another Historical Romance novel by Sarah Waters, all 'cause it involves lesbian characters! Lol! You'd think my whole family was stuck in the 20s.
     
  14. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Who cares what people think? Well, obviously you do, but still. One thing I vowed to myself when I started trying to become a writer is that I'd write whatever I damn well pleased, and only write/publish what I was proud of and had no qualms with shouting to the word about. Do I have family that wouldn't approve of certain things? Sure. But I don't approve of everything they do (especially professionally, at times). But, I don't discount them or their career choices because I don't personally agree, and I've made it very clear (and will probably have to do that in the future) that writing is what I [want to, at least] do as a career, so it's not just some personal hobby they should feel free to criticize (nor should they were it just a hobby).

    So, I guess my point is that you aren't just some deviant writing naughty things secretly, you're a professional writer, and at the very least your family and friends, and you yourself, should respect that. Especially because there are far more disrespectful and unscrupulous professional careers you could be doing!

    What you're doing is finding success as a writer. There's not only nothing wrong with that, it should be celebrated (though there will always be some giggles and blushing, and even from yourself if you're honest about it all, as admitting it's sometimes blush-worthy doesn't mean it isn't still respectable as a career).

    I'd do the same as if you were just accepted to law school or got your dream job at a veterinary clinic or any number of careers: sit your family down, explain the situation, be honest about it, explain that you understand some people may feel uncomfortable and that's acceptable as long as they realize it's what you want to do professionally, that you're good at it, and that they should respect it because it's not their decision to make.

    And understand it's not your problem if your family and friends aren't mature enough to understand, but their problem. Show grace and understanding by forgiving them when they do raise eyebrows and make giggling jokes. Learn to laugh with them when it's funny (meaning don't be defensive) and learn to forgive and explain if they do cross a line. Basically, treat your writing with respect and honesty by taking it and yourself seriously, and you'd be surprised how quickly others follow.

    And good luck, sounds like you're having fun with it all!
     
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  15. IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer
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    Hey, there are people who snark endlessly at "literary fiction". There is no way to write something that everyone will like (or even that everyone will think is worthwhile.)

    Personally, I have no interest in erotica, romance, or anything that centers around a "love story". That's fine -- a lot of what I write probably wouldn't interest you.

    If everyone liked the same thing, then we'd only need one author, ever, to supply it. And where's the fun in that?

    You enjoy it. You're good enough at it to get it published (which means someone enjoyed reading it, to accept it.) Why would you stop?
     
  16. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Go for it, but not only that, don't feel bad about writing erotica. I haven't published anything period, much less erotica, but I've written it before. It feels... freeing to me because it's one more barrier that I don't have. Also, sex can be an amazing plot device, being a non-violent action that is full of life. It's the, "action," scene of a romance in a sense. It's the release of energy that in other genres would be a massive gunfight or a monster attacking.

    But besides that, not only does erotica not have to be trash, but it can be just as intelligent as a good sci-fi, just as emotionally deep as an amazing drama or romance, and can even be incredibly spine tingling when combined with horror. So never feel bad about writing a genre as flexible and diverse as this one.
     
  17. Florent150
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    Florent150 Member

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    I'm not really in a position to answer this, but I'd be interested to know from others, and am prompting you to consider, what consequences this might have for your professional image if you plan on being a serious writer, especially if you have the younger generation in mind at some stage. It's difficult to be a role model for children or teenagers or even YA if you've got erotica "to your name", and publishing companies might know this. Obviously if J.K Rowling wrote an erotica as her next book it'd seriously damage her image (as an example). Like I said, I'd be interested to hear discussion on this, because it does come to my mind; it might be damaging or have a negative effect on certain projects.

    If as a writer you're focused on very adult-type material (erotica or otherwise), then it might not be a problem, but, while it's romantic to say that you're being true to yourself (and it's right, you should focus on what you want), you might have to think about what it means to your image if it's going to jeopardize future potential books. Like I said though, I personally don't know if that would even be the case/if the industry works that way, but it's probably important to highlight the point. ;)
     
  18. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't care to read erotica. But some people don't care to read horror or detective mysteries. I have no interest in writing erotica either, but neither do I have an interest in writing a historical romance.

    I can say that in my profession (a high school teacher), writing and being a published erotica author could (and probably would) cause problems, even if I used a pen name. So, even if I had an interest, I'd just write something else.

    That's okay. It's just the way life is.

    As an adult, nobody can tell you what to write and what not to write. But what you do write and have published can have consequences. Just be aware of them before you attempt that genre and be willing to live with it.
     
  19. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    There are always pen names. Also, as was recently pointed out to me, look at Shel Silverstein. It can be done. It's not as if there are nude photos of her out there, they're books! It can be separated. I don't see what it has to do with anything, honestly. If, eventually she is "found out" she'll hopefully have enough of a fan base that it won't matter. Fear of failure isn't a reason not to do something, imo.

    EDIT: Okay... hadn't thought of the teacher thing that I see TWErvin2 posted. I assume Ashleigh isn't a teacher... other than something like that I'm good with what I said.
     
  20. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have you read D M Thomas's "The White Hotel"? Apart from the holocaust scenes near the end it's almost pure erotica, and has won mainstream literary prizes. Whether it's trash or not depends on how well it's done, not what genre labels it gets tagged with. Remember Sturgeon's Law -- when folks complained that 90% of science fiction was crap, Theodore Sturgeon replied something like "Yes, but 90% of everything is crap!". I note that many authors who write what plainly is Science Fiction reject the genre tag "Science Fiction" because of its associations with low quality potboilers -- maybe that's a route for you to go. Keep writing erotica, but reject the genre tag.
     
  21. teacherayala
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    teacherayala Contributing Member

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    I kind of agree, I think. I would consider what effects it might have in the future. But then again, a byline is a byline. I would strongly recommend using a pen name if it's something that you'd prefer not to become a dinner conversation with the 'rents, etc. I'm also a teacher and have even taught in religious schools before.

    On the same level, kudos to you for writing what you really felt led to write regardless of people's image of you or whatever "prudery" you feel coming from your family. Sometimes it's really hard to break out of molds. If you think it will improve your career and put it where you want it to be, then I guess go for it!
     
  22. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I'm fairly liberal about these things I guess, and see no problem with someone writing erotica and also being a teacher/children's book author/etc. But I guess society as a whole doesn't necessarily share my position, so if you want to write erotica professionally, you're going to have to accept that it will probably limit your opportunities at some point. Not necessarily in a serious way--look at Anne Rice, for instance, writing (really, really explicit) erotica didn't stop her becoming a household name for a completely different type of novel--but if you have dreams of writing picture books by day and lesbian vampire lit by night, you might have to make a tough choice.
     
  23. Pomee
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    Pomee New Member

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    I don't really like erotica. When I say this I mostly mean those Harlequin romance that seem to rely less on plot and more on explicit sex.
     
  24. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Use a pen name.

    In time, if you choose to, you can always use your own name.


    Edit- after thought.

    I think to be a writer and put your work out there, you need to develop a thick skin for someone somewhere will always find something to criticize in your writing, no matter what you write.
     
  25. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    That might have worked once, but these days, if someone wants to find out who you really are, they don't have to work very hard. If you're writing isn't mainstream is probably isn't such a big deal, but the more commercial you get, the less viable pen names are as a way of ensuring anonymity.
     

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