I am sorry, but I have to take a break from my backlist party today, to post some more personal considerations.
Ever since Doris O'Connor posted a link to this astonishing article here I have felt a “Wyvern Rant” building up. Those who know me well know that I don’t rant halfway, but no, this time I will be moderate... more or less. We are all authors here and I don’t want to hit anyone on the head (well, I do want, but we can’t always have nice things, can we??)
So why do we write “pornography”?
Unlike some of my colleagues I don’t even object to my books (at least some of them) being called pornography. I didn’t exactly overexert myself coming up with a plot for Black Carnival, for example. Let’s face it, there’s just enough plot to string the sex scenes together. Still, it is considered poor taste to call it Porn. We do strive to write about lovable characters, not just about mating bodies. Still. Nowadays even calling a book Erotica is dicey. So, let’s agree to call it Erotic Romance. Whatever you call it, it’s still sex.
Why do I write about it? Because I love words, and I love sex. I like flowers, horses, ducks and ships too, and I like to write about all these things too. But I got to admit that writing about sex is more intriguing.
I don’t think there is anything in life more fabulous that good sex. What can I say.
We all have our little manias. Like, you, Philippa, have this thing for dead kings and queens, and that is fine, fine. I mean, my publisher probably would not touch it because it’s necrophilia, which is considered poor taste in some circles, but it’s ok, I don’t judge you, we all have our little quirks. I have this thing for carpentry. Once had a memorable orgasm, while reading a very technical book called “The American Built Clipper Ship”. To this day, the words “black-locust trunnel” sends a sinful shiver up my queer wood-working back. As I said, we all get off on something or other, live and let live, right?
Why do we write about sex… Jesus, have you ever written poetry? Have you EVER had an orgasm, Philippa? Tell me, as a writer, is there anything more challenging than describing the utterly indescribable, flirting with disaster, always on the edge of the dreaded precipice, that purple prose, always wondering if that one metaphor is one too many, one too far? Always wondering if you can capture at least the ghost of that fantastic moment… Always wondering, are words, ever, enough?
In the bound red obscurity
Of my blind, tied body
My world is only – you
Your silence is my dark night-sky
Your skin is the warm earth upon which I stand
Your fingertips open the path for me
Your tongue is the river that sweeps me away
From the darkness
Into raging phosphorescent seas
Floating in silver waves – foam and salt tears
And your member - deep inside me
Is the life tree of this world
Its roots hold me fast into time and place
But its wind-blown top
Is the sea-voice of the storm
No, I mean, I am a gardener, and I love flowers, but even a million squillions daffodils won’t bring me to such a pitch of poetic fervour. No, it takes a lover and a good oestrogen high to get me in that state of wordy passion.
I write about sex because it is beautiful and immensely powerful and ineffable. Because it is alive, it is life, and one good shag is worth a thousand dead kings. Have you ever had oral sex so mind-bogglingly good that you had visions? (yes, this literally happened to me, no I don’t do drugs, and yes, my husband is that good, what can I say, suck it up, Philippa). Have you ever longed for somebody so much that every curve of their body became an object of agonizing worship? Have you ever loved someone so painfully that the first touch of their skin brought tears to your eyes? Are you seriously telling me that these things, some of the most elemental things a human being can ever experience, are not worth writing about, are not worth deploying excellent prose for, when so many words are wasted every day on so many trivial objects?
Why do we write about sex?
Because so much we do and are in our life, whether we like to admit or not is dictated by our subconscious, and boy is our subconscious bashed about by our sexual instinct… I think the way people have sex, tells a lot about them. When I was writing Spellbreakers, there was so much world-building in it, that I seriously considered stripping the sex scenes out of it, and submitting it as a fantasy novel. But then I realized, while rewriting it this way, that I had lost a very significant chunk of the characters’ personas and development. I don’t think you HAVE to use sex to explore your characters’ psyche, but it is one hell of a way to do it. We are (sometimes) at our most raw and unguarded during sex. It is something worth exploring.
Am I saying that all romance is excellent literature? Hell no. But then, MOST LITERATURE is not excellent literature. Quality, or lack of it, is not confined to some genres or other, dear Philippa.
Ok, rant over. Do leave a sexy comment below for a chance to win a e-copy of either Black Carnival or Spellbreakers, your choice. Let’s celebrate.