I have a dilemma that I have been sitting on since the middle of the last decade. It’s not embarrassing, per se, but it is something I’m not sure how to go about achieving what I want without causing problems elsewhere in my life. My doubts and my worries have kept me from leaping into the fray, so to speak.
I’ll get right to the point. *deep breath*
I write Erotica.
There, I’ve said it. *whoosh*
Now, some of you way think “But all romance has some form of erotic writing in it, i.e. the sex scenes!”. No, this isn’t like that. This is a storyline which revolves around the sexual nature of the protagonists, their journey, with specific tastes and fetishes, some of it a little less emotional and profound as you read in a typically well written romance novel sex scene. In Erotica, there is sometimes not a Happily-Ever-After, perhaps instead an understanding, or a parting of ways with the knowledge of an interlude never to be forgotten. Sometimes it can get risqué, and enter into territory that does not fall into the category of “normal”. Erotica is about the sensual pleasure (or pain) of sexual explorations and awakening, or perhaps even, yes, sexual healing.
Correct me if I am wrong in this definition, of course. This is how I see Erotica, but someone else may have a different take that would prove very effective. (any takers? *nudge*)
What I discovered, all those years ago, as I wrote out the story, was more like what you get in the Spice line from Harlequin, or some of the anthologies you see on the half-shelf at Chapter’s labelled “Erotica”, hidden in the back corner of the Romance section. A little bit out there, a little bit harder.
“So?” some of you say “What’s the dilemma of that? Write what you love to write!” and I know, really, there should be no problem with me wanting to write what makes me happy. It does. I write it, and it flows for me, it fits. No shame in that.
At least there wasn’t.
My life, as everyone’s does, changed in the past few years. I have a husband, a family, a child. I have a newfound relationship with God. So now, with all these changes, I hesitate completely in sharing it anymore, based on the accepted norms within this stage of family life. Before you castigate me with “What is normal?” let me remind you that I too buck at these constraints of normalcy in some ways, but am also comfortable in the level of safety and comfort they afford. Hence my worry.
I would love to publish in the genre someday, perhaps without a nom de plume. But in that dream, I turn to what others might think, especially my in-laws and relatives. When I started writing this type of fiction, I had not yet met my husband and his family, or the church. What on earth would I say to my in-laws, if I have published an erotic fiction book? What on earth would happen if my Dad wanted to read it? Would he be embarrased or shocked?
These are the things that circle in my head as I read submission guidelines to different publishers. I read the story I’ve got mostly finished, think it’s got great potential, and then never send it. I worry about what the people whom we used to go to Sunday service with would say, if I would be looked at as some sort of wanton deviant in need of prayer and saving. Would we be snubbed in church? Would I be openly admonished for my choice of subject? Most people believe that an author puts themselves in the story, that they have done and do what the protagonists do, on some level.
I say this to myself, and read it from other authors; We are not what is in the story, we are not the characters. Imagination takes the grain of experience, and creates the pearl of the story around it.
I tell myself that it matters not what these people think about me, and my relatives would get over it, even with statements like above. But still I hesitate. Approval from others I respect has always been a crutch I lean on, especially in endeavours where I produce something that must be graded or critiqued. I have learned in my day job not take criticism personally, but technical diddley is emotionless compared to the pouring of heart and soul onto the page that happens when I craft fiction.
Do I take a chance and send it out, braving the potential for people to disapprove or treat me differently, wondering at what strange things I do? I think about my husband and child, and how they would be treated. Do I respect that the risk for upheaval is too high and keep it hid?
I often wonder how other erotic fiction writers handle this situation. What do they say to family members, children, and parents when they tell them they have been published? How do they push through the stereotype (if it rears its silly head), or the self-doubt of acceptance? Sex is still taboo to a lot of people, and to write so blatantly of it evokes a strong response in some.
This is my dilemma.