I spent the last weekend at #Eroticon 2019. For those not in the loop, this is an annual conference held in London for writers of a sexy persuasion – bloggers, authors, sex toy manufacturers and road-testers, porn aficionados, and assorted kinksters. There are few such gatherings in the UK and I tend to go along to Eroticon each year. It’s good networking and who could complain about a weekend in London, especially on St. Patrick’s Day?
As ever, I am struck by the sheer out-there-ness of my Eroticon colleagues, and the fascinating niches we craft for ourselves. The kink community is brave and powerful, loud, gloriously colourful and endlessly imaginative. Who needs fiction when the facts are so bloody wonderful? I was wowed by a presentation on hypnotism and eroticism (orgasm trigger words – delightful!) and had a bit of innocent fun playing about with dice writing. That’s a nifty little trick devised by an author friend of mine which uses the throw of a dice to introduce new twists in the plot and helps to unstick things when the old creative juices get a bit sparse. Then on to a sort of serious talk on the history of BDSM in art and culture, and from there a dig into the murky world of social media trolls.
But what has all this to do with fact and fiction, you wonder, whilst softly clearing your throat. Well, I'm getting to that.
My most perspicacious moments of self-awareness came in the session rather tellingly entitled Anxious Writers’ Club. This was a panel discussion on the dark and subversive forces at work which combine to stop us from writing or convince us that what we’ve written is utter crap and best flung on the back of the fire. Negative self-talk is destructive and pervasive when those mean girls get into your head and fling their poison about, their fiction dressed up as facts.
Here is (im)pertinent fact number one – I don’t need others to mess with my head, I can do that perfectly well for myself. I am reminded repeatedly at Eroticon that I’m not the best judge of what is great writing. Readers often amaze me by displaying appalling taste. They might go loopy over things I think are rubbish whilst ignoring my finest prose with lofty disdain, and there’s no way of knowing which territory I’m in. And whilst on the subject, am I a writer on those days I don’t write? Instead of beating myself up, why not just ride the creative wave when it hits, and forgive myself on the days I have nothing?
I spent two self-indulgent and glitteringly enjoyable days listening to sexperts waxing lyrical about their uninhibited blogging, the best sex toys, kinkiest lifestyles, and so on as though these concepts were facts, true and tested, beyond doubt. Whilst an opinion can be a fact, i.e. it’s a fact that I hold such and such a view, I think I’s best that I never confuse what I write with facts. I do fiction. It’s made up, could happen, might have, to someone, but I make no such claims. But at Eroticon none of that matters and I realise what a gorgeously eclectic world this is, full of juicy topics upon which I can have an opinion and be exposed to many and various different viewpoints. Where else can I listen to serious stuff about health and safety in the porn industry (important facts that could save a life) whilst sharing in the vicariously erotic fantasy of a shibari demonstration? At Eroticon I can be equally inspired by fiction and non-fiction, take whatever comes my way, value and savour the experience. It’s a little slice of the fantastically non-real dressed up in a not very respectable jacket.
Roll on Eroticon 2010. I’ll be back…