‘Lovers, forgive my intrusion at such an hour but I’m terribly over excited’
My story starts here. Recently I ran a writer’s workshop with the Melbourne Writer’s Social Group looking at the success of erotic literature over decades. I didn’t know it at first, but as the workshop approached I realised I had my fair share of erotic knowledge to share. I was reminded on the day of the need to be fearless in a creative sense, and push boundaries, to challenge yourself. However, I was surprised by the lack of support from women (only two women attended) as according to all statistics, women consume erotica at about the same rate as men. As I glanced around the room of mostly men, I wondered if a woman was presenting ‘erotic literature’ instead of a male, would men have stayed away? I guess I’ll never know. What was clear though, was the wealth of experience and imagination that could be poured into erotic stories. The stories read out loud by the men on the day were varied and original. They mostly teased more than sexually aroused, but behind each story was a personal honesty, a lot of humour and a little sadness. You could hear their heart beating under the fantasies as they read. I believe it’s a good thing for writers to purge their sexual dreams and heartache.
‘Darling, have you no modesty, do up a button…thank you, I was over heating at the sight of your exposed…elbow’
One writer on social media a few days before the workshop argued that ‘he didn’t need to know anything about the art of writing erotic fiction’. Fair enough, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But, I argued, no matter what you write at some point you are probably going to have to write a love/sex scene in some form, surely you want that ‘love scene’ to arouse interest?
WHAT IS EROTIC LITERATURE? Erotic literature comprises fictional and factual stories of human sexual relationships, generally with the intention to arouse the reader sexually. A common element is satire and social criticism, and sexual fantasy.
It seems that over the years every author has had a go at writing erotic fiction, probably for the money. Some famous authors include Anne Summer ‘The Joy of Sex’, Ann Rice ‘ The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty’, DH Lawrence ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’, Mark Twain ‘1601’ and Vladimir Nabokov ‘Lolita.’ Even Dracula by Bram Stoker was considered saucy in its day. I urge you to open it up at any page and read, you’ll be titillated for sure. A surprising addition to the long list of erotic writers is Felix Salten.
In 1906, an erotic memoir was privately published. Purportedly written by a Viennese prostitute at the end of her life, Josefine Mutzenbacher, oder Die Geschichte einer Wienerischen Dirne, it became a popular success; its now a very rare book, a first edition copy recently selling for over $6,000. The introduction to the original is signed by “the editor.” The “editor” was, in fact, the anonymous author. That author has been firmly identified as Felix Salten (pseud. of Siegmund Saltzmann), whose claim to fame is as the author of Bambi, Eine. You can bet Walt Disney had no idea of Salten’s erotic past when he turned Bambi into a family friendly motion picture.
So, what’s the difference between erotica and pornography? The best answer I found was in the Guardian. I quote – The difference between erotica and pornography is erotic is using a feather, and pornography is using the whole damn chicken.
So, why have so many good writers dabbled in writing erotica? The answer I think is as simple as this, there is real money to be made in writing erotic fiction…so lets look at the recent/most-famous erotic book, 50 Shades of Grey by British author E L James.
FACTS ABOUT 50 SHADES OF GREY – Fifty Shades of Grey is a 2011 erotic romance novel. It is the first installment in a trilogy that traces the deepening relationship between a college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and a young business magnate, Christian Grey. It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving S & M. It was originally self published as an eBook and ‘print on demand’ rights by Vintage Books in March 2012. Fifty Shades of Grey has topped best-seller lists around the world, selling over 125 million copies worldwide by June 2015. It has been translated into 52 languages, and set a record in the United Kingdom as the fastest-selling paperback of all time. Critical reception of the book, however, has tended towards the negative, with the quality of its prose generally seen as poor.
CENSORSHIP – Of course you can’t talk about writing erotic fiction without talking about censorship. In March 2012, branches of the public library in Brevard County, Florida removed copies of Fifty Shades of Grey from their shelves, with an official stating that it did not meet the selection criteria for the library and that reviews for the book had been poor. A representative for the library stated that it was due to the book’s sexual content.
One thing clear in the workshop of mostly men, was everyone had their own idea of censorship. Believe it or not, their were arguments put forward by some of the men for censorship, of certain things. One subject matter that definitely was a no go zone for writers was child erotica in any form. Even the classic book Lolita came under fire by some members of the group, so it appears that ‘erotica must come with good morals’ to be enjoyed by masses.
More facts about 50 Shades of Grey – 1. It’s classified as Mummy porn 2. The author is married with two kids to a screenwriter 3. E.L James described the books as her midlife crisis (who hasn’t had one) 4. It is the fastest selling book of all time beating the J.K. Rowling Harry Potter series 5. The books are popular with teenage girls 6. The Independent reported a 15 % increase in whips. A 60 % increase in blindfolds and a 200% increase in jiggle balls (don’t know what they are? Then, shop online😊)
About the author – Noel Anderson is featured in Breaking the Code in Oct 2018, and is currently adapting his play Sammy & Dave into a film, about two bisexual-married men who rendezvous for a one night stand. Based on a true story. View the promo trailer on FB.