Why is it so difficult to write erotica?
And if it isn’t, please tell me your secret!
Sometimes I envy the graphic artists, who don’t need words. Rodin’s The Kiss – here shown in the large marble version rather than the small bronze often photographed – was considered scandalous in its day for being so, well, graphic.
I’m not at all inhibited in my speech, and I firmly believe no subject should be taboo to a writer, but if I try to put sex scenes on the page, I can’t figure out how to do it without sounding either crude or ridiculous.
I’m better at it in verse than prose, I must admit. It’s easier when I can use metaphor. For example this one (a notorious poem in its day, which I’m still proud of – but a rarity for me).
I actually belong to a facebook group called Erotic Haiku, though I post there fairly seldom because I don’t often write anything applicable. Many of the others who post there are quite explicit. Personally, I don’t always find this a turn-on, but rather stating the obvious. Judging by comments, plenty of others do think the explicit is hot. My efforts tend more to the subtle and understated. There are probably readers who would not find anything so restrained a turn-on.
So I can manage it now and then, in my own way, but I’d never be able to make a career out of it – unlike one of my friends, who used to write porn fiction for a living. ‘Just create a couple of characters,’ she says, ‘put them in a location and a situation, think about things you like in bed – and away you go.’ She makes it sound so easy! Doesn’t work for me. I do know how to fantasise. My difficulty is putting it into words which adequately convey the thoughts.
I’m not the only one. These musings came about because I recently edited a whole book of erotic love poems by a woman who wanted to celebrate the passionate love between herself and her lover. The trouble was that she was not only trying to depict the sexuality but simultaneously to put into words their transcendent love. She ended up using abstracts to try and describe the ineffable. The writing tended to tell, not show. It neither moved nor aroused this reader.
I think …Continue Reading