When men write erotic fiction (as opposed to porn, where the piece is devoid of conflict and usually sequence of physical events interspersed with banal and cliché phrases that are the memes that stand-in, ineloquently. for someone getting pleasure) they often try to protect themselves. Even work by seasoned writers who should know better, I still often find a distance – a lack of explicitness of feeling that serves as a shield between the writer and the reader. Women do it, too. In characters who are just too physically perfect, social statuses that are just too enviable, happily ever after endings that feel good and say very little about the real impact the erotic experience has on our selves and our lives.
As much as we all pay lipservice to the avoidance of the dreaded Mary Sue, the truth is that all fiction carries the traces of its author. And the difference between really good writing and mediocre writing is not when the characters emerge changed, but when you know, as a reader, that the author has also emerged changed. I don’t believe that any excellent piece of writing leaves the writer unscathed. You can’t protect yourself or your psyche and write it. You either serve the story or you serve yourself; there’s no doing both. If you’ve written well, you should have that uncomfortable sense that you’ve come out of it looking like an asshole. Chances are, the reader is far too immersed in the fiction to ever notice, but that’s neither here nor there; you’ve exposed something true of yourself and that, if it really was true, is always a frightening thing.
Back to men and writing erotic fiction. I’d like you to jump over to Raziel Moore’s blog and read his latest story “Close Enough“. I have no idea how it reads to a man. All I know is that, as a woman, reading it, I think I may have found one of the best pieces of erotic writing I’ve ever read. I was afforded temporary entry into a true and very private place, and I appreciate it. It’s a rare thing.
It’s not about what happens physically – although, what happens is undeniably hot. Here the physical and the psychological, emotional, self-identification takes the centre stage. Here the transgression is entirely inner. Not what an erotic act means to others, but its interior meaning, how it interrogates who the character is. How it scares him, how it leaves him unknowing, unsure of where his limits are, of where hers are, of everything. It gets about as close to the fracture of the hermetic seal of subject identity that I’ve ever read.
But I want to say that it may also be the best piece of romantic writing I’ve ever read, also. Because it is about love. Not comfortable love. Not orderly, socially applauded love. Or even fictionally transgressive love. It’s about being in love and how utterly and ruthlessly anti-social it is. It’s about the kind of love that either drags you to hell or takes you to heaven, and plonks you down in that place with no name, hanging by the very thin line of the human capacity to conceive of consequences and a tomorrow. It is the place where we destroy each other, and remake each other again. But not the same.
It’s a magnificent piece of writing. It should serve as a model to all the writers out there who say they write erotic fiction, but hide themselves behind a sequence of superficial, pornographic dioramas or slide over the real on a frame of mundane romantic construction.
Raziel Moore is a fucking brave writer. Give him your eye. Leave a comment. He likes them.