Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Peeking around the door jamb

Both Lisabet and Jenna have made excellent points when it comes to the doors of our writing being opened, or not. I have my own take on this issue and like Lisabet, I'm not sure where I'll be going with it here, so bear with me.

Romance and Erotic in written form have been around for centuries. The French and Orientals have been entertaining those who could read since the middle ages, much of it a great deal earlier. True, not everyone had access to books or could read way back then, but it was there. The doors had been opened if only to the rich and idle.

A sample from Stuart's Taste of the Orient

T'ung-sheng-ko

Let us now lock the double door with its golden lock,
And light the lamp to fill our room with its brilliance,
I shed my robes and remove my paint and powder,
And roll out the picture scroll by the side of the pillow,
The plain girl I shall take as my instructress,
So that we can practice all the variegated postures,
Those that an ordinary husband has but rarely seen,
Such as taught by T'ien-lao to the Yellow Emperor,
No joy shall equal the delights of this first night,
These shall never be forgotten, however old we may grow.

Chang Heng A.D. 78-139

But, when you look at attitudes of the readers, what's really changed? There are only so many ways tab A can fit into slot B, although we like to think we dream new ones up with each generation.

The internet has shown us new doors and new attitudes towards both readers and writers of erotica. It used to be men were the accepted authors of the Penthouse and Playboy stories. That seems to have changed and many men are now taking on female pen names in order to get their stories published. I don't know what the stats are on who's buying the books and stories, whether more men or women read the naughty stories you and I write, but I bet it's closer to even than ever. I could also be completely wrong here, but I just get the feeling I'm not.

What I feel needs to be addressed or at least thought of is the way the general public relate, or can't relate, to us, the authors, of the smut/romance/erotica they read.

Lisabet seems to have had a very good experience as an author and I'm really glad for her. Jenna, not so much and I remember vividly how upset she was. It was heartbreaking to simply know what was happening and not be able to help in any way.

For myself, those doors, the ones where readers can't understand that we are not what we write. Read that line again:

Writers are not what they write.

Stephan King did not go to cemeteries and dig up dead cats or loved ones. There were no aliens buried in the back yard, thinner wasn't real, honest!

It's not okay to email a romance author and suggest, blatantly, that if she only had a REAL man she wouldn't need to be a lesbian. OR! It's really not okay to send a complete stranger an email telling them their hot and you want to f**k them or have them do strange and wonderful things to you. This list could go on for pages. How many romance or erotica authors have taken pen names in order to protect themselves, not only from being discovered by their boss' or co-workers, but by strangers who seem to think the title author makes it okay to stock, harass or terrorize someone?

These are doors we've perhaps opened without realizing what could happen. The internet is an entirely new world, a new door, and it's just now becoming a place a great number of people use daily. The morals of a world wide society, that's what this door is and we're struggling to explain it, live within it and even define it. On one hand, we have the ultra conservative who wants all things personal kept away from adults and children alike. On the other hand we have those who feel to censor anything is wrong. Plus all the millions in between those two hands.

Maybe this door will force human kind to grow up. But, maybe we've opened a Pandora's box dooming us all. What do you think?

19 comments:

  1. Hmmm, I'm shocked to discover that there are no aliens buried in Stephen King's backyard!

    Very interesting take on the subject, Jude. You're correct in your assessment that the "door" about which we speak is the morals of a world wide society. People being what they are, there's no way to make everyone completely happy with what's going on in the world. It'd just be nice for people to find a way to live and let live.

    Great post!

    ~ Jenna

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  2. Hi, Jude,

    It all depends on who your peers are--who is your community. My life as an erotica author is almost completely online. I've been able so far to keep it secret and separate from my "real world" life.

    The "stories=author" issue can be quite serious. I've gotten a few invitations and suggestions. I just try to be polite, a bit distant, and suggest that my correspondent might enjoy reading my books instead...!

    Hugs,
    Lisabet

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  3. Thanks Jude,

    Excellent post, and you've helped me get my take on this week's tricky theme.

    Best,

    Ash

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  4. So far, the only condemnation I've seen is from the uber-religious ones, who have prayed for my eternal soul. I keep telling people my relgious beliefs are not always reflected in my writing.

    Seriously? People have 'suggested' demonstrations of written scenes/ideas expressed in books? Thankfully I've not had that:)

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  5. Jenna, I'm really sorry to burst your little bubble, dear, but no, there really aren't any aliens in his yard. Disappointing, I know. LOL

    I'm so totally with you here. You'd think people, supposedly adults, could live and let live, as long as no one is getting hurt. Ya know, I always want to add, unless they ask nicely to that last sentence. LOL

    Thanks for commenting, GF

    Hugs

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  6. Lisabet,

    My life as an erotica writer is pretty much online as well. I honestly don't think I'd be stoned or anything like it, but I do think there are some people in my family who might feel hurt and I'd rather not even go there.

    Thanks so much for stopping in and commenting. This was a really tough topic for me and I'm really interested in everyone's 'take' on it.

    Hugs

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  7. Ash,

    Should I be afraid?

    Hell, why am I asking you?

    LOL

    I'm really looking forward to your post, I think.

    Hugs

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  8. Kenzie,

    For a very long time, I wrote a lot of femdom, I still do to some extent. A few years ago, a fellow actually swiped one of my stories and gave it to someone who then claimed it as their own. The fellow emailed me, apologized profusely and offered himself as my slave for however long I wanted him.

    Flabbergasted doesn't even come close to how I felt. LOL And that was mild compared to the fellow who made plans to come visiting.

    It's very difficult to know how to promote publicly while ensuring my own safety. To me, that's just crazy.

    Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Oh, and I completely understand about the, 'I'm not what I write' thing.

    Hugs

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  9. Well...I must be one of those square pegs, because my writing life and real life are as merged as possible.

    I have always been different, stood out, and gotten harassed as such, and a perverse side of me has always enjoyed any and all opportunity to exhibit the defiant "Fuck You" in the face of the opposition.

    On the other hand, just because I may be vivaciously flirtatious does in no way mean, I welcome freaks stalking me. However, if anyone wants to fantasize, I guess that's his or her perogative. I won't police your thoughts. :]

    ~Bryl, the perv

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  10. Bryl,

    I want to send you my mother in law. Kidding, honest.

    There are times I wish I could be as open about what I write as you seem to be. It bothers the hell out of me when I can't just say what I do and defend it, because I know it is a very good thing we do. As time goes by, I find I'm less likely to lie, though and feel very comfortable with it.

    You watch, I'm going to be a little old lady of 85 still writing smut and bragging to all the people in the home. LOL

    Thanks so much for sharing your take on the topic.

    Hugs

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  11. Jude, we've been friends for a good few years now and one of the first things I said to you was that I don't confuse what you write with who you are. I know some do, and it must be pretty unpleasant, but you can at least delete the emails. The problem goes with the territory in a way. You write on subjects that are hidden away with most people, certainly I don't trumpet my own sexuality to all and sundry. The thing is when you write (wonderfully), there are going to be occasions when you hit a chord with someone - isn't that what you aim for?

    It can't really be surprising then, if once in a while someone loses it momentarily and fires off an email that you may take exception to. I don't condone the behaviour, but, you have to accept that, in a way, it is a sincere form of flattery.

    Just a thought on your post.

    Cheers

    Mog

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  12. Hi Verb,

    I understand, sort of, what you're saying, but it still doesn't make it right or acceptable. We, as a supposedly civilized race, have to come to some kind of terms with the internet and the foibles of people.

    Thanks so much for your post.

    Hugs

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  13. Hey Jude

    It does make you wonder why people feel like they have to go crusading against authors they don;t like, but its just a fine old tradition. Maybe we shouldn't be writing this stuff until we retire and no one can get at us. I'm alwqays a little haunted by what happened to Jenna. As a person from a religious background I can understand the people who want to censor everything and think they're doing it for the public good. But they can't. In the information age the genie is out of the bottle and its just going to get bigger. Even dictators can;t stop the flow of information. We're just on the fringe of that wave. "Lolita", which was once banned as smut, is now regarded as the greatest novel of the 20th century. Sometimes you just have to have faith.

    Garce

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  14. I'm not sure if Garceus comment was aimed at me, I hope not. As far as I'm aware I have never attacked an author for what they write. I'm not like people who condemn TV programmes but forget the off switch. If I don't like it, I don't read it, there’s no better weapon.

    I believe in live and let live. I simply make the point that if you write to arouse certain feelings in the reader, then ask for feedback, and provide a means of giving it, one shouldn't be too surprised if one gets it. Of course it doesn't give any rights to the reader to insult or make assumptions about the writer, I never said it did.

    I don't know how many unpleasant emails are received by authors, if it could be stopped I'd be all in favour, but I have to say that the people I know best in this context are well able to look after themselves.

    More power to their elbow(s)

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  15. Well, I found out just recently that online doesn't separate you from your RL.
    I think I lost someone whom I thought was a friend because of my erotic writing. I don't think they think what I write is who I am. I think they just can't understand that leaving the door open doesn't make what I write trash.
    And that's why unfortunately for this comment, I'm using the anonymous tag.
    I don't want to embarress them any further

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  16. Hi Garce,

    I know you come from a religious background, but I still can't honestly understand how anyone thinks it's all right to decide what's good for someone else. As an adult, and an old one at that, I would never dream of trying to force someone else to believe the way I do, other than the usual. (By that I mean leave kids, animals and corpses alone)

    To think you, and I don't mean you personally, have the right to decide my life is just wrong.

    And, this is only my opinion. I also know you don't think that way, so take this all with that grain of salt we bandy around.

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us.

    Hugs

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  17. Verb,

    Yes, we've known each other for a very long time and I hope respect each others opinions. I'm sure Garce wasn't pointing towards anyone when he posted, least of all you.

    Your post was from the readers angle and I can get my thoughts around them, but only just. Yes, I do understand why someone gets a thrill from what I write. That's what I'm writing about and if it connects with someone, I've done my job well. I have received some very interesting email over the years, and I have been able to handle it fairly well.

    The first few times it was shocking. I couldn't comprehend how someone, and in my case it was men, could have the guts to send me nasty emails suggesting all manner of kink, but couldn't ask the same of their wives or significant others.

    The human animal is a very strange breed.

    Thank you for sharing your readers point of view with us. I really do appreciate you taking the time and do value your thoughts on any of the topics posted here. I also hope you'll come by again and post.

    Hugs

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  18. Anonymous,

    My heart goes out to you. I know there are ways my real name can be found out and I think about it sometimes. What would I do if it became common knowledge among the people I know? I can't really answer that, but I like to believe I'd be able to defend myself and my craft. Losing friends over it, that had to be horrible. I like to think I wouldn't, but who really knows until it happens. It's sad to think that people you thought you knew were so judgmental, but it seems many are.

    I wish you all the very best in your writing life as well as in your personal life.

    A very warm hug

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