Word Porn 3 Comments

or alternatively, is one person’s trash another’s night-in?

Editors and lit nerds far and wide cannot be blamed for that vaguely sexual thrill that comes of a seriously well crafted sentence. The refreshingly brave imagery that successfully equates a first kiss to something you never realised was titillating until now. Writers who avoid the term ‘pregnant pause’ at all costs, god bless them. Donne’s metaphysical conceits (I was forced to study The Flea in y12, and now think it’s actually pretty cool). There’s a lot of good stuff there.

But that’s not what I’m talking about. Well, that’s not all at least.

Little known fact: ManComm (that’s Managerial Committee of Express Media) have never blocked a story due to its content. This should be kept in mind for all kinds of content that is considered subversive, or as I like to think of it ‘awesome’. For a quick study of back issues, I bring your attention now to Bryce Joiner’s ‘Pushkin’ in SUPERFUNHAPPY, a story that made me cry on a plane. Or more recently, ‘Fog’ by Elspeth Muir published in Budget. Now there’s an example of surrealism and rape working together to create something special.

So the question stands. Where is the smut, kids?

And what is the difference between erotica and porn?

In your opinion.

To give this post context, my own experience of erotica is really quite limited. The first encounter was, in all honesty, stumbled upon during an infatuation with Poppy Z Brite; ‘Exquisite Corpse’ – the story of two gay serial killers who fall in love. Aw. But without trekking to Polyester with guttermind intent it seems to still be something confined to the peripheries of literature. Which is okay, really. But considering we at Voiceworks are offering to pay you darlings for any well thought out, crafted and presented piece of prose it does strike me as strange that we never seem to get anything on the saucy side.

Are you shy?

Returning to my own question, I suppose erotica is meant to be more ‘tasteful’ than porn. Convincing back story and context really do work wonders. Characterisation, dialogue that consists of more than ‘oh baby, that feels so good’. And if we can do away with those misogynistic moulds of how the dynamic should manifest that would be great too. But how much context is necessary? Should the erotic element be snuck in or can we allow it to feature independently?

  • http://www.ryan-paine.com Felice

    I read a book review recently (tried to find it online but can’t) that said no-one should put romantic sex scenes in stories. Ever. Not because it’s offensive, but because they end up impossibly twee (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/nov/25/bad-sex-award-shortlist for examples) and can’t capture something that is both so personal and so universal. Seems to me like sex in novels usually comes across as either comicly self-effacing or disgustingly romantic or unnecessarily violent. Maybe that’s all it is in real life, too.
    I don’t think writers avoid sex scenes because they’re taboo, I think it’s because by writing sex into a story you’re inadvertently letting the reader know a little bit about a sexual experience you have had. At some point. And it’s not something everyone is willing to offer up, lest the reader go ‘pffft, what? you don’t know shit about fucking!’ So yeah, maybe it’s that writers are shy indeed as they’d rather tell about how they rocked some casbah or dealt with death or climbed an mountain than lost their virginity.
    However, thinking about this has inspired me to put a sex scene in the next story I write. I’ll send it to you, Kat. It’ll be tastelessly erotic (is that a thing?).

    • http://www.toothsoup.com phill

      I can understand where that review might be coming from: telling your friends about something romantic that your significant other did almost never comes out right/well/without little flecks of vomit appearing in the corner of their mouths. But isn’t the job of an author to write such things in a way that are both personal and universal? If we (using the global authorship ‘we’ here, not inclusive of myself) can write about grief, death, redemption, etc. with grace, it’s not inconceivable that romance and sex can also be written well.

      I’m totally there with you on the ‘letting people know about yourself’ thing. How could I possibly write about that time with the two British midgets without people becoming suspicious about the accuracy of the details? D:

  • Liam

    I won’t name it but one of Australia’s highest selling ever novel’s was greatly diminished by the line
    “She rode me like a chariot into the night”
    Twee and just plain awful

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