Why I Don’t Write Erotica
This is likely to be a tricky post for me but it’s a thought I’ve had for a while and wanted to express in a cohesive, clear manner.
First, though, let’s define what I mean by erotica.
Erotica is typically literature that is designed to sexually arouse. There are examples ranging from literary(Anaïs Nin) to pulp(E.L. James), antiquated(Marquis de Sade) and recent(Desclos). Some of it, as I said, can absolutely be considered polished prose. Others are just horrific examples of debasement exalted for public consumption. But the point of it, generally, is to sexually arouse. To titillate, in other words.
For the purpose of where we’re going, I will also say that numerous authors I greatly respect include erotic sections within their works. Dean Koontz, Robert Jordan, John Scalzi, Robert Heinlein all have some, at times even somewhat graphic, sexual content in their pages. I don’t consider those works erotica, however. And I don’t write erotica for much the same reason I don’t read erotica:
Life is more than sex.
Life contains sex, certainly, but focusing on it, dragging it into the forefront of all we are and reducing ourselves to be subject to it, rather than it subject to us, is missing the bigger picture of what we as authors strive to do. I once heard Patton Oswalt bemoan The Passion of the Christ as something similar to focusing on a six hour span of time when Einstein had food poisoning and making a film about it. I disagree with him concerning that film, but the point of his argument is fairly sound. Some of my work includes sex because all of my work includes people. People have sex therefore there’s going to be those moments when the story naturally leans in that direction. But my goal is not to be gratuitous. My goal is to tell a story. My goal is for you to travel to a far away place even if that place is a little town in Tennessee.
Sex sells. And because it always has and always will, there are some people who can conscience the idea of selling sex in written form. I cannot. For now, I will be satisfied to tell you a good story, to take you to another world, and hopefully, show you the world as I see it. And if I make money along the way? I will have successfully bucked the odds. If I don’t, then I will have at least given a handful of people one more story than they began their lives with.