Okay, I’m lying, but I don’t regret that. There are things I do regret, and a great many things I feel guilty about, but none of them are things I feel compelled to confess here.
I hadn’t thought much about it before, but I’m not even clear what the differences are between confessions, admissions, and memoirs. Confession, to me, means revealing things about yourself that you consider to be wrong, things you’ve done that you’re ashamed of. If you don’t really think they’re wrong—if you just find the idea of doing “bad” things titillating and don’t really wish you hadn’t done them—are you confessing, or bragging? Can there be confession without repentance? Admission seem to me to be very close to confession, but more often involving things you’ve been accused of doing rather than things you bring up yourself. A feeling of guilt still enters into it, though, or else you’d just be agreeing that you’d done something rather than admitting it.
There are, of course, times when confession is real, and serious, and compelling, but those are more a matter of trying to repair harm you’ve done to someone. Since we’re generally talking in one way or another about sex here, I’m thinking more about the culturally imposed taboos that some of us have internalized but many of us have not. I have a suspicion that those who can work up some degree of guilt over “kinky” desires (and the satisfaction thereof) are having more fun than those of us who don’t see what the big deal is. It’s not fair, but then, what is?
In the context of the erotica we write and read, are characters who don’t feel guilty about their desires less interesting than those who do, or those who actually enjoy feeling guilty? I’ve come across a number of stories where confession in the liturgical sense is an actual fetish, whether the aim is to shock the priest or to seduce him or simply to have an audience for boasting about how excessively sinful the character has been or claims to have been. Sometimes I almost regret my lack of grounding in a religion that places great restrictions on matters of sex and great emphasis on the necessity of confession. Well, no, I don’t regret that, but I wonder whether it’s a drawback when it comes to writing erotica.
Then there’s the matter of memoirs. Some lean more toward the confessional than others, and a few may even show some degree of honest repentance, but the ones of a more erotic nature don’t seem to include much in the way of regret. Come to think of it, what’s the difference between a memoir and an autobiography? Does a memoir deal more with how the writer felt about things that happened? Or does the word “memoir” tip us off that events are filtered through many layers of memory without any great amount of concern for historical accuracy?
All I’ve managed to do here is pose questions, and I don’t claim to have answers. But I’ve just remembered that I do have something to confess (without much repentance.) My very first publication, many, many years ago, was in one of those “True Confessions” sort of magazines, although this one was less well-known, and I don’t even remember its name. My story was, I suppose, more along the lines of a memoir, a sort of collage combining a few true parts with enough added details to make it form a story of sorts. It wasn’t very good, and I’m not proud of it, but I’m not ashamed, either. The only part I’m ashamed of is that I didn’t write anything else for about twenty-five years. Life got in the way, or I was too lazy, or whatever, but…
Okay. I do regret that. But otherwise, no, I regret nothing! That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.