Thursday, November 6, 2008

the erotic myth

Hmm, sounds like the title of a documentary. LOL It's not. But, I do want to talk about the erotic writer and all the stuff that comes with that particular tag.

Erotic writers put up with a lot of crap. Did you know that? Since I've started writing hot stories I've been told my writing is 'trash'. Isn't that insane? I think it is. Sometimes I can let it flow right off me, other times it makes my blood boil. It's crazy to think that just because I give details in my love scenes that somehow makes me less of a person. Not to mention the fact that other writers look down on us, as if they're better somehow. I once asked a very popular author to give me a quote on a book. She refused. She blamed it on something else, but we both knew the truth, she didn't want her good name attached to a book that was considered erotic. I just wanted to laugh at that. Why is it that authors who write regular romance, or even authors who write suspense or thrillers think they're somehow more intelligent? Is it really better writing or is it just different? I say it's just different. Of course I'm not saying ALL authors have this attitude, but some do.

Here's the truth. I have to have a plot, engaging characters, and a great ending the same as the rest. I don't throw together a story and call myself an author. I outline, I revise, I spend hours and hours at the computer pulling together a story worthy of reading. I deserve to be looked at with the same respect as any other genre. Do I make nasty remarks to those who write sweet romance? Do I read a bloody scene in a thriller and want to pray for the author's poor confused soul? No, I don't. Anyone who spends hours sweating over a story to make it shine has my respect, regardless of the type of story.

Myths surrounding erotic romance authors:
We're all a bunch of nymphos
We're all trapped in a loveless marriage
We grew up with a screwed up set of morals
We're all the products of sexual abuse
We masturbate while we write

You might think the above list is nuts, but I've heard all of those things at least once.

Now for the truth, Are you ready for it? Here goes....we're people just like you. Yep, it’s true. Moms and dads, wives and husbands, stay-home parents, career people. We're your neighbor. We're no different, no worse, no better. Our stories take talent and a lot of hard work to write. After all, you try writing a ménage! It's not as easy as it seems, let me tell ya! Keeping those guys and gals from standing on their heads is so not a piece of cake! LOL

Now, to leave you with a question. How many of you have been afraid to admit to your family and friends that you read/write erotic romance? And be honest! I can easily say that I still have a hard time admitting what I do for a living. I literally brace myself for the dirty looks. I know that if I want to see someone shut down really fast that's the way to do it. Sad, but true.

CONTEST REMINDER: Regina’s contest from yesterday is still going on! She’ll be picking a winner tomorrow, Friday!


BrennaLyons said...

How right you are! I've been blogging about the snobbery in writers for years.

For the record, I write both straight-genre and romance/erotic crosses. NOTHING is inherently easier or harder to write, for all people. What comes easily to you does and what doesn't doesn't. Someone else will say the opposite.

It's not always easy to be true to your world and character, but if you're a good writer you're going to. That means every character will act "in character," whether in or out of the bedroom.

Well-rounded characters of more than preschool years have developed a sexual identity. It changes. It grows. It evolves. But, it's there. To write an adult or nearly adult character and never touch on the sexuality inherent in that character, even if it's as simple as a teen boy being nervous around a hot teen girl, you have left out a huge facet of the character's personality.

That doesn't mean every book and story has to be a sexual story. It means that it's NORMAL to notice the sex (or sexes) you're attracted to. It means that an awkward moment or even the note that they got over the awkward moments long ago and can say anything to each other is just part of characterization.

If your characters run hot, follow them, IMO. That's natural for the plot, the world and the character.

If you're adding sex just to add it, like any extraneous scene, it's going to weaken your story/book. But, if it's accomplishing the advancement of the plot and/or characterization, there's nothing inherently wrong with sex. In fact, it can be a powerful tool for seeing into the evolving character.

After all, we all got here somehow, right?


Kelley Nyrae said...

Great blog today, Anne! I admit that there are some people who know I read/write erotic romance and some who don't. My main reason is my kids are so young that I don't want it to come back and bite them. Some people are weird about it. Plain and simple. Doesn't make any sense but its true.

Christina Phillips said...

I've been very fortunate - so far I haven't come across this prejudice from fellow writers, they've all been fantastically supportive.

And yes, I told all of my family and relations when I finally sold my first story - an erotic romance!

My in-laws wanted to know if it was *rude* (I assured them it wasn't *evil grin*) My brother wanted to know if it was autobiographical (umm, no?!) My husband went into shock when he inadvertantly read a line over my shoulder. As for my two adult daughters, despite being horrified by my choice of genre, they've also told all their friends on MySpace to check out my book!

I've waited too many years to be published - I'm determined to enjoy every possible moment of this journey!!

Anne Sorgeson said...

Definitely don't let a lot of people know what I write. They look at me like I have three heads. I know a lot of very conservative people. lol So there are only a few who know about so hence I use a pen name.

A few that do know are very accepting and support me. My hubby is my biggest supporter.

Regina Carlysle said...

Personally, I wear a hot pink feather boa, sexy stilletos and a tiara when I write. I keep a crystal bowl of chocolates within easy reach and sip martinis while writing uber-hot sex scenes.

Ironeyes said...

I am a reader and have dabbled with writing shorts. I have a few things published. I have been used as a technical advisor and have made banners and such. It is relaxing and a great hobby. I'm not good enough to make a living at it so I leave that to the accomplished authors. To those who know it and give me any grief, I tell them I don't give a flying rat's as_ what they think. It pleases me therefore their comments / chides are unimportant.

Anne Rainey said...

Brenna, it's great to hear this from someone who writes both!

Kelley, it's true that when you have kids you have to be careful to think of them.

Christina, I want to be in your family! LOL How great that they're all so supportive!

Anne Rainey said...

Regina--LOL!! you nut!

Ironeyes--good for you! I love that attitude! :)

Judith Leger said...

Anne, don't listen to the idiots! Some of the best and memorable stories I've read have been erotic. I write romance and I received giggles and snickers all the time. Those who do obviously have never read a romance so you know the people making comments about erotic have never read any.

You're so right! There is a ton of work that goes into creating this type of story. Hold your head up, girlfriend. You've done what some people have never done. You created a story that is enjoyed by readers who do appreciate you!

Regina Carlysle said...

LOL. You'd didn't think I was serious did you? SNICKER. AS IF! I actually had a local woman tell me to my face that I wrote trash. This was before the EROTICA writing began and I was writing straight romance. No telling WHAT she'd say if she knew that I've crossed over to the Dark Side. One of these days I'll bump into her again and let her know. HA.

As to other writers, I haven't felt any condemnation from them and have found other writers, no matter what they write, to be supportive. I'm sure there's some of that kind of snobbery out there and I've heard stories. I just write what I want and others can write what THEY want. Doesn't matter to me and I don't care what anyone else thinks.

Helen Hardt said...

What a great post! And so true. I didn't tell my family when I sold my erotic romance. My sister found out anyway. I told her I'd won a writing contest and she went googling "Helen (my real last name) romance writer" and found my website! She found it because my son took my headshots and his last name was on them as a credit. Helen's my real first name, so connect the dots. She won't read my stuff, but she's been supportive.

My husband is my biggest supporter. We've been together for 22 years, married for 19, and I guarantee you it is not a loveless marriage! In fact he's a willing and eager research partner :).

And Anne, you're so right about writing a menage. Not just the positioning. The darn things are pronoun nightmares, LOL.


Anny Cook said...

Writing a GOOD sex scene is hard work. There is much more detail in that than saying, "He carried her into the bedroom and kicked the door shut..."

Why on earth people feel like they need to be the arbiters of what other people write just doesn't make sense. Do I care what Joe Schmoe writes? No.

I do not share with my family as they are mostly Christian fundamentalists who would find it offensive. That's a personal decision. My parents are elderly and I see no reason to upset them. My kids on the other hand brag about my books all the time. So there you go.

My favorite reaction is the one I received when my cardiologist found out what I do for a living. He wanted to know all the nitty gritty details because he thought it would be a fine occupation for when he retires!

Desirée Lee said...

I had to explain the difference between erotic romance and porn to my parents. *LOL*

I am still not sure they're convinced.

Oh well.

To the rest of the detractors, choose the least adult response to the most adult books: Stick tongue out and go PBBTTTTT!!!!

Carpe Noctem,

Desirée Lee
Putting the Romance Back in Necromancy

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a terrific post. I'd like to send it all over cyberspace. I love writing erotic romances. I write both but I reallt get to stretch myself with romantica because, unlike what many people thing, you DO have to have plot, good characters, adn writing that flows smoothly. It's a lot more than the critiques say, that you just have to know where Part A goes into Part B. If that was all it took, I could write instructions for IKEA furniture.
I took a pen name for my erotic romances, basically because I thought my family would prefer it. Well! They can't run around telling people fast enough. My hubby might as well wear a t-shirt that says "My wife writes about sex and I love it!"
I have some friends who look at me as if I should be wearing a scarlet A, and onceat a workshop a woman asked me if I'd actuaslly done all the things I wrote about. Yeah, right! *snort* But I have great fans and a lot of support from my family and close friends. What else can I ask for?

Anonymous said...

d Rita! I want a picture of you with your feather and champagne!Oh,

DangerousBill said...

"Erotic writers put up with a lot of crap. Did you know that? Since I've started writing hot stories I've been told my writing is 'trash'. Isn't that insane?"

Be careful what you wish for. The sense of doing something naughty is what attracts many readers to erotica. Perhaps imagining the author playing with him/herself while sitting at the keyboard adds a little extra juice to readers' enjoyment. In fact, you must have named this blog 'Three Wicked Writers' for a reason, n'est-ce pas?

I'm not brave. I publish under a pseudo. I do not wear a tattoo or tee shirt that says 'I write erotica' and only the Warrior Queen and a small number of writer friends know what I write.

It's an aspect of our society that isn't going to go away soon. At least we're at the point where you're unlikely to be prosecuted for it.

Dangerous Bill

Anne Rainey said...

Thanks, Judith!

Helen, my husband is my biggest supporter too. He's even agreed to wear a shirt to the next convention that says "research assistant" lol

April Vine said...

No one, absolutely no one knows I write erotic romance except my very supportive partner in crime, my husband. I’m from an overly conservative culture and would cause strokes if I even mentioned romance, they know what goes on in a Mills and Boon's novel, they’d say, wagging their fingers at me. Yeah, well, Mills and Boon's got nothing on me.
It is frustrating. I know when I received my first contract I wanted to shout it out to the world and instead I escaped under the covers of my bed and asked what have I done. That’s just not fair. I just hope that one day I’d find those snobby people with handfuls of erotic romance, getting all excited and then I’d get to say, I wrote that, you condescending hypocrite. Ah….revenge.
I’m still the same person, with the same fears and same morals, but more importantly I’m less likely to judge anyone else and to me that’s religion. Its escapism for goodness sake, you get to read your fantasy, what more do you want. Erotic Writers should be put on pedestals and praised as Goddess of Love.
And to think that we masturbate while we write, well there’s the line where multi tasking gets drawn, it’s impossible, impossible to do, I tell you.
And the last person I’m thinking about is the author when I read an erotic romance, how could I be thinking of anyone else when I’m the heroine herself.
But the thing that irritates me the most is that at the back of my mind is the niggling feeling that I have to write some great SA novel, why? To validate myself. Why, because even though I claim I have a devil may care attitude, I actually don’t and it’s THEIR fault.

Anne Rainey said...

Desiree, the interesting thing to me is the friends who look at you as if you should be wearing a scarlet A. Isn't that insane? I've had that same attitude tossed at me. It's so damned annoying.

The truth is, I have a very healthy sex life with my husband. I enjoy that aspect of our life. I probably do get a lot of my scenes straight from real life, I don't do it on purpose really. But, there is a saying that goes something like, 'write what you know'. lol I sort of enjoy telling those nasty bitches that I 'write what I know' then watch their eyes bug out. hehe!

DangerousBill said...

"He's even agreed to wear a shirt to the next convention that says 'research assistant'"

Now *that's* funny!

BrennaLyons said...


My husband has been wearing a shirt for YEARS that proclaims him "Brenna Lyons' one and only erotic research partner." The back has one of my tag lines on it... "Men are animals, and women wouldn't have it any other way." His best, to date, response to it? TSA in Boston on one of his business trips. Grinning... The TSA agent wanted one of the other styles I sell.


Anne Rainey said...

Bill Wrote: Be careful what you wish for. The sense of doing something naughty is what attracts many readers to erotica. Perhaps imagining the author playing with him/herself while sitting at the keyboard adds a little extra juice to readers' enjoyment. In fact, you must have named this blog 'Three Wicked Writers' for a reason, n'est-ce pas?

Yeah, I do see your point. And I don't mind people thinking things about me as they read my books. *shrugs* But I don't want to be treated like a bug on the bottom of a shoe either, ya know? :)

Anne Rainey said...

"Men are animals, and women wouldn't have it any other way."

I love that!! LOL!! :)

Anonymous said...

Great post.

I'm a fellow TWRP writer awaiting the release of my first book. It's not erotica, but it's close.

I decided to publish under my real name. I'd originally wanted a pen name because I didn't want everyone (ie: people at work, my neighbors, my kids' friends) to know what I write. But I realized they're going to find out anyway, because my kids and husband tell everyone. Thus, the real name. :)

I have a hard time admitting I write romantica/erotica/really hot, and I don't know why. Probably because of the reaction I get from some people (never fellow writers, knock on wood). It's been referred to as "trashy" and "soft porn" and " not Christian." The funny thing is, the person who said a Christian wouldn't write such trash has no problem reading Patricia Cornwell or James Patterson. So, I guess killing people in gruesome ways is fine, but writing graphic sex scenes between two consenting adults is not.

I admit I'm a bit worried about the reaction of the people I work with as I work for a conservative, Christian company. I'm not promoting or talking about my book at work, but I know word will get around. We'll see.

And the thought of my mother reading it terrifies me. YIKES! But she'll get over it. Maybe it'll teach her a thing or two. :)

Anyway, I'm glad to know I'm not alone with my confusion and frustration. I need to develop a thicker skin.

Thanks for sharing.


Carolan Ivey said...

My first book wasn't even erotic, but it did have one fairly explicit sex scene. My husband's brothers took great pleasure in wiggling their eyebrows at me as they poked fun at me about the infamous "Chapter Ten". LOL

Know what shut 'em down? When they asked if I used my husband for research. I slipped my arm through his, gazed adoringly up at them, and cooed, "Why, yes. Yes I do."

Gaping fish mouths from brothers in law. Jealous looks from sisters in law, then glares at their husbands ("Why don't YOU do that for ME?").

Mission accomplished!

Julie Robinson said...

You are So right, Anne (the 2nd half of my name). There are even people in my own writing group who look down on writing "trash." Much less my parents! And then if you tell a guy what you write, you can see the glint go on in his eyes, thinking you're an easy lay!

Genella deGrey said...

Awesome post, BTW!

Brenna - I write both, too. :)

The people at my 9 to 5 don't know about the erotic romance (yet - LOL!) but they do know about my straight romance-genre writing.

My father's family is much more into the arts and I have their unyielding support.

My two adult kids know and my (research & development) man. My friends, who all fit nicely into the well-adjusted-not-afraid-of-sex category, are very happy for me.


Cameo Brown said...

Great post, Anne! I write under a couple of different pseudonyms because of the backlash I would get in my conservative location, so this really spoke to me. I've experienced snobbery within the erotica genre as well as heard other writers in other genres downplay its importance in literature. It irks the heck out of me when someone who scribbles poorly done formula fiction sneers at my work even though literary erotica is a highly respected genre. Grrr!
Keep up the great posts.--Cameo

Anne Rainey said...

Becky wrote: So, I guess killing people in gruesome ways is fine, but writing graphic sex scenes between two consenting adults is not.

That's exactly what I'm saying! I will never understand why it's okay to read about serial killers and chopping people up, but mention an erotic romance and that damned nose goes in the air and you're suddenly pond scum! ugh, I hate that attitude!

Anne Rainey said...

Carolan--I love your In-laws reaction!! LOL! Too funny!

Cameo--I totally know what you mean! I can't tell you how many times I've read a New York Times Bestselling book and thought, 'Um, cut and paste much?' LOL One book I read recently was so ridiculous I just sat there shaking my head, thinking 'and I'm supposed to admire her?'

Sadly, in the end, they're the ones who get the respect. RWA, fellow authors, and family members alike will all think she's terrific.