By Donna George Storey
Several years ago, I shared some of my erotic fiction with a friend from an online writing workshop. He came back with this curious reply: “I found it interesting that you like to write about sex between people who know each other.” I laughed out loud. I knew a good majority of smutty stories involve strangers bonking madly after a random meeting at a club or the bus stop, but was it really so remarkable that I wrote dirty stories where the characters share some kind of emotional as well as physical intimacy?
Indeed as a writer and a reader, I tend to prefer stories where the emotional tension between two—or three or more—partners is as compelling as the physical connection. I firmly believe the best erotic tales start with a good story first, and that you should be able to tone down the sex or even take it out completely and still have an interesting encounter. This might seem to put me strongly in the “love” camp. Certainly when I first sat down to ponder this compelling topic of the relative importance of love and sex in erotica, I assumed my priorities as a writer and a lover would remain firmly in alphabetical order.
But then I realized, as have my esteemed “Oh Get a Grip” fellow bloggers before me, that it’s not so easy to decide. I’ve been truly, mutually in love but twice in my life, and the first was a mere three-month practice session. In both cases, however, I fell in love only after it was clear that the sex was fantastic. In other words, I waited for my body to find the perfect fit before I let my heart get involved. It’s also pertinent that in my single days, I found the phrase “making love” to be a painfully laughable euphemism. It most definitely did not describe what I did with the men I slept with. Back in the heyday of the sexual revolution, I meant to “fuck like a man” and that didn’t involve the mushy stuff. Yet the years have taught me that when love and trust are the foundation of erotic indulgence, I do feel more loving afterwards, more forgiving of petty day-to-day annoyances. Each time my husband and I make love—or fuck like wild animals--we renew our vows. Thus, sex and love enhance each other, like lime and chile, vanilla and cream.
I’m starting to get hungry.
In any case, our awareness of this mutually nurturing relationship between love and sex can only strengthen a writer’s powers. I once commented to another erotica writer that I couldn’t imagine having really good sex with a stranger. I was of course speaking from personal experience. She countered with her own personal experience at swingers’ clubs where indeed she’d had transcendent sex with partners she’d known for a few minutes. While I have no interest in exploring an open marriage, the writer in me felt chastised and challenged. What would it be like to be the type of person who went to these clubs and had a good time? What would have to change in the way I perceive the world for me to create a convincing character who inhabited such a different space?
The very idea of pulling this off provoked and excited me. And yet, I can’t really claim full membership in the “sex” club either.
For all my amusement at my online’s friend’s comment so many years ago, I have to admit I’ve written plenty of stories about strangers having satisfying erotic connections. You could even argue that if my stories turn my readers on, I’ve had sex with people I haven’t even met. Yet even then, love matters. That is, my love for the very process of writing fiction: becoming my characters, transforming my fantasies into language so that others may share in my momentary vision of the many ways eros finds expression. Every erotica writer who is serious about her work by definition brings love of her art to the page, but he also must tap into the fundamental creative energy of sex itself. Complicated, maybe, but the good news is that we don’t have to choose one or the other at all.
We just have to keep writing.
Donna George Storey has always loved sex. She is the author of Amorous Woman, a very steamy novel about an American woman’s love affair with Japan, as well has dozens of erotic short stories which have appeared in such places as Penthouse, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica and Best American Erotica. She currently writes a column for the Erotica Readers and Writers Association, “Cooking up a Storey” about her favorite topics: sex, food, and writing.
Cooking up a Storey