I haven’t told my family that I sold an erotica novel. I’m not sure that I will in the future, or if I ever will. While I’d love to be able to tell my mother that the English Degree I got is being put to good use, I really don’t want to answer the question.
You know, the ‘why this?’ question. Why in the world are you writing erotica? Gay erotica, for that matter. Why would you waste your time writing something like that when you could write something with more meaning, something that lasts longer, that has a real impact on people?
I really, really, really don’t want to have that conversation with my mom.
I’m not ashamed of what I write. I enjoy writing erotica and enjoy putting it out there for people to read. What I don’t enjoy is having to justify it to people that I care about. It’s one thing when someone over the internet scoffs at you for having written smut but when it’s a person who really means something to you it is much harder. Eventually I will have to have the conversation. I know that and I think I’m fairly well prepared for it.
So why do I write erotica?
Because sex is a window into people’s hearts and minds. It lets you see so much more deeply into the soul than you can through people’s public actions. When I write about people having sex, no matter what sort of sex they’re having, it lets me touch on their deepest emotions, most important motivations. The story gets to address all the conflicted emotions that we get around what we like and who we love. When a story fades to black before the clothes come off I feel like I’m missing something important.
I write erotica because it makes me happy. There are so many stories that I would like to read that just don’t exist. It’s hard to find stories that I love about gay characters, about people of color, about fantasy worlds and non-humans and incredible events. After a certain point in time I stopped looking for other people’s versions of what I wanted and began to write my own. At least if I write the story I know I’ll get all my fiction kinks hit. Having my own erotica that covers the issues I care about, that hits the kinks I love, makes me incredibly happy.
Erotica makes other people happy. There is of course the obvious happiness that comes from getting hot and bothered from a good kinky story but there’s a deeper happiness in my opinion. Fiction reflects us, or it should. When we read something that hits a kink squarely and treats it with respect that’s a validation that’s frequently missing from the real world. So few people that I know truly accept their sexual selves. Writing stories where kink is accepted, where being gay is okay, where other forms of families besides one man and one woman are all right is my way of validating all those things.
It matters when people see themselves depicted in fiction in positive ways. Erotica might be intended for casual consumption but it something that people read for more than just the obvious reasons. I feel that erotica is something lasting. It does have real meaning. The erotica that I’ve read in the past has had a real impact on me as a person and as a writer. It might not be an impact that I can discuss openly but it’s every bit as powerful and as real as a more ‘serious’ novel might be.
Writing has power. While I might not want to have that discussion with my mother, I like to think that when it finally happens I’ll be ready for the talk. Until then I’ll keep avoiding the subject and writing my stories. Because in the final analysis the answer to ‘why this’ is always going to be ‘because I want to’ and there’s not much that anyone can say to that.