Then I came across this great article in Salon about The joy of sex writing. I don't write erotica but I don't shy away from sex scenes either, so naturally I was curious. The article is great. It reviews two books of the 'best of 2005' erotica short stories. But other than reviewing erotica, the article also makes many statements about writing:
Of the 47 pieces between the two [collections...] only a few are concerned with presenting sex as a human experience from which pleasure and happiness can bloom. The rest are a compendium of what could be called anti-erotica...And the paragraph that I liked best:
This turns out to be a wise approach, given an unfortunate irony that the best sex, like the happiest families, has a tendency to come off as dull and saccharine on the page. Why? In part, I suspect, it has to do with the nature of writing and reading: They are the least instinctual of activities and therefore less than ideal for expressing our most basic instincts.
Other, more visceral, art forms, come closer [to sex]. Photography, painting, cinema, hip-hop: These are mediums that, in the right hands, manage to be both carnal and clever without coming off as pat. Writing, though, is inherently cerebral, introspective, neurotic, more professorial than prurient. After all, part of what makes "Lolita" so scandalous after 50 years in print is that it remains a great piece of writing that, to the discomfort of many a blushing intellectual, is genuinely arousing. Generally speaking, writing is not about indulging in one's desires so much as questioning them, over and over, until the onset of vertigo. And so the very hang-ups and insecurities that can ruin a good romp between the sheets are, paradoxically, the very ones that make for excellent writing.
Most of what is said in the above quoted paragraphs applies to all writing, not just erotica. I cannot recall reading a (good) book where everything was happy and fun. I don't think I can write only about joy. In writing we do explore our insecurities, give freedom to our fears, and rely on our idiosyncrasies to create believable characters. We question our own morals and delve into areas of our psyche we probably shouldn't. That's what writing is all about, that's how writing becomes art.
Categories: writing, art