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Writing as An Art Form

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I came across this great article in Salon about The joy of sex writing. I don’t write erotica but I don’t shy away from sex scenes either, so naturally I was curious. The article reviews two books featuring “Best of 2005” erotic stories. Other than reviewing erotica, the article also makes many statements about writing, and it is these statements that I wish to draw your attention to:

The article explains how most stories in the two collections do not actually present sex as a fun experience, but are rather told in an “anti-erotica” style.

This turns out to be a wise approach, given an unfortunate irony that the best sex, like the happiest families, has a tendency to come off as dull and saccharine on the page. Why? In part, I suspect, it has to do with the nature of writing and reading: They are the least instinctual of activities and therefore less than ideal for expressing our most basic instincts.

Comparing erotica writing to other art forms such as photography and hip-hop, one finds a big difference. While writing sex remains somewhat removed, other art forms can deal with it in much closer terms.

Writing […] is inherently cerebral, introspective, neurotic, more professorial than prurient. After all, part of what makes “Lolita” so scandalous after 50 years in print is that it remains a great piece of writing that, to the discomfort of many a blushing intellectual, is genuinely arousing. Generally speaking, writing is not about indulging in one’s desires so much as questioning them, over and over, until the onset of vertigo.

Most of what is said in the article applies to all writing, not just erotica. I cannot recall reading a (good) book where everything was happy and fun. I don’t think I myself can write only about joy.

In writing we explore our insecurities, give freedom to our fears, and rely on our idiosyncrasies. We do that to create believable characters and stories.

In writing, we question our own morals and delve into areas of our psyche we probably shouldn’t. That’s what writing is all about, that’s how writing becomes art.

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About Melly

  • Thanks swingingpuss.
    Very interesting what you say about family-oriented erotica. To be honest, I had no idea such a thing even existed. I’ll have to check out the links you provided (Diapers and Sex gives me an error, btw). [Fixed -ed]

  • I am a pornstress, besides being a regular writer. I have found that some of my family-oriented erotica have been far more successful than general or ‘wierd’ erotica. Good post

    A couple of examples that got a lot of interest and comments are “Diapers and Sex” and “Red Heels” – which were highly rated and commented on literotica.com

  • Thank you, Rachel.
    I felt the same way. These two erotica books brought up some very interesting commentary and thoughts about writing and art, the purpose of writing, and how writing becomes something we can call art. So no, I absolutely agree, one cannot dismiss off hand erotica just because it’s about sex…

  • I write primarily about sex, but also about plenty of other topics, and each topic fulfills something different for me. I think sex is a very easy topic for people to dismiss wholesale-I see it all the time-so I applaud anyone writing and thinking about sex intelligently, honestly and passionately. I haven’t read either book in full yet but both look like they’ll be interesting.