Friday, November 25, 2011

Reality And Perception

As I sit here and gather my wandering thoughts, I have to say, "I'm Sorry" for missing my posting dates over the last few weeks. It's been kind of hectic, but that shouldn't be an excuse for not living up to my responsibilities.

Which leads to the subject of my blog post today -- Reality and Perception.

What do I mean by this? you ask. Well, I have discovered recently while researching the erotica genre, that my ideals of reality in the BDSM world could be considered skewed by others. Not that this concerns me, to be honest, but I have to wonder how it will effect my readers when I produce stories that don't jive with the established world I've written previously. I respect my readers and their opinions, even if those opinions don't necessarily coincide with my own.

When I write an erotic romance that incorporates the BDSM lifestyle, I try to remain faithful to the philosophies I've given my characters regarding the development of a relationship and trust within that relationship. In the real world, I have discussed the merits of a BDSM lifestyle based on the emotional and psychological elements involved, not the toys and activities that take place, because I feel the emotions and mindset are the most important aspects.

At the same time, I recognize that there are others who do not have the same perspective as me and some who are unwilling to change their perception of the lifestyle due to the fact that they enjoy reading stories couched in that viewpoint. They prefer to see BDSM as a kinky way to be in charge of someone else whether they are willing participants or not -- something often portrayed in erotica.

This was pointed out to me by a friend who recently read through an erotica short story I'm working on. I've been thinking about it for a while now, and I have to say, it both disturbed and intrigued me. The longer I thought about it, the more I realized that in delving into the erotica genre I had separated myself from the belief system I had created for my erotic romances. And the differentiation between the two didn't bother me.

Let me be clear, my definition of erotic romance is a story that builds a lasting, romantic relationship that couches the physical intimacies in frank and graphic language. Erotica is a story written for titillation, sexual arousal, and stimulation of the physical body, and not predisposed to Happily Ever After or even Happily For Now endings. Erotica is all about the sex and not about the heart. 

That said, I have to admit it didn't bug me that in my short story I had my characters playing bondage and spanking games without benefit of safe words. Why wouldn't it bug me? Because, to be blunt, the short story is a fuck book. It is erotica. Plain and simple, it is masturbatory material intended to stimulate and arouse the senses not evoke an emotional response like an erotic romance does.

Should I alter this short story to better align it with my established belief system? Turn erotica into erotic romance? Reality is, the book isn't a dissertation on the lifestyle, it's a fuck-me-now quickie read. But the perception many readers may take away from it is that BDSM is all about controlling another person without allowing them a say-so in what is done to them -- something I would never condone in real life.

Could this draw new readers to me? Possibly. Could it damage the trust my established readership has in me? Maybe. Is this a risk I'm willing to take?

I think so.

If you don't stretch your boundaries you'll never know your limits. In my mind, that along with respect, strength, love, and trust are at the core of a BDSM relationship.


  1. The whole erotica vs. erotic romance distinction is tricky (not even getting into terms like smut or porn). And you're right that if something doesn't have an HEA or HFN, then it is not a romance. But erotica is so much more than "not HEA". Erotica is about a sexual journey, and that's why I disagree with your statement that "Erotica is all about the sex and not about the heart." A sexual journey (that yes, has a character arc and growth) has quite a bit to do with the heart and emotions. I have no problem with a "fuck book" or "masturbatory material" but that's not really what the erotica genre is about. Some of this is semantics, I know, and you did define your terms, but if there's only room in your terminology for straight romance or masturbatory material, then where does a powerful story of discovery with a bittersweet ending go (of which there are many examples) go?

  2. Amber, you're right and there are shades of gray on both ends of the spectrum between Erotica and Erotic Romance. I didn't go into that mainly due to the space available and the book I was referring to. One of the great things about years passing and growing up/older, is that a person's perspective and belief systems can change, shift, and alter. There are several authors who write erotica that go beyond the "simply sex" element of the genre and I freely admit that I like them and look forward to their next books.

  3. I am surprised by your definitions, too, Qwillia. What you call erotica I would call smut. Erotica to me suggests a story where the sex drives the plot, but in which you also find reasonably good writing, interesting characters and so on. Literary erotica goes a step further and is actual literature on the topic of sex. It seems to me there is plenty of erotica around, and some choice examples of literary erotica.