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'08 Authors Insider Tips


Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Epublishing: A Different Way
Choosing an Epublisher
Your Milage May Vary
Understand Your Contract!
Reasonable Expectations


FictionCraft
by Louisa Burton
The Publishing Biz
Critiquing: To Give and ...
Commerical vs. Literary...
Antiformalism for Fun &...
So You Want to Write a Novel
The Story Idea
Planning Your Novel...


The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
5 Steps to Success
Inspirational
Opening Passages
Let's Get Critical
Writer's Block
Learning Lessons


Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Be a Finisher ...
Listen to Your Characters
Conferences: Act Now ...
Starting an Erotic Story
Exercises & Writing Prompts
Revising & Rewriting
Copy Editing
The Manuscript Critique
How to Submit Your Work
Reading as Craft


Guest Appearances

Adventures in e-Publishing
by Lisabet Sarai

For the Love of Man
by Laura Baumbach

How to...Influence Editors
by Alison Tyler

Marketing your e-Book
by Brenna Lyons


2008 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
Role Play
Busy Doing Nothing
Picture of a Fish & Chip...
What I Did With My Summer


Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
Naughty Cookies...
Tie Me Up, Please …
The Smut-Writer’s Holiday
Never Trust the Narrator ...
Compare and Contrast
Following the Pen
Naked at the Farmers Market
Im Easy, But Im No Slut
Good Girl Gone Bad
Pleasures of the Dark Side
Slow, Spare and Sexy


Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Raising Daughters
Jamie Lynn
Utopias
Lust
The Good Old Days
Election '08
Traditional Marriage
Campaign 2008
Free Will


Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Masturbating on SSRIs
Sex and Disability
Besides Ourselves
Adjusting our Contrast


Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Sex Is All Metaphors
Turn-ons and Squicks
Sexual Truth
Fickle Muse
Porn, Erotica & Romance


Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Alison Tyler
Ashley Lister
Debra Hyde
Donna George Storey
Jeremy Edwards
Kristina Wright
Rachel Kramer Bussel


Erotic Hot Spots
by William S. Dean
Interview with Tilly Greene
Interview with Devyn Quinn


Getting Graphic
with William S. Dean
New Times for Readers...
The Future in Words ...
Interview with Fantagraphics


On Writing Erotica

The Accidental Pornographer
by Lisabet Sarai

The End of Innocence
by Lisabet Sarai

Get Them Off in High Style
Helena Settimana

So, You Want To Write Erotica?
by Hanne Blank


Web Gems
Hot Movies For Her

Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta

 

JeanIn his poem "Altarwise by Owl-light," Dylan Thomas wrote:

Death is all metaphors, shape in one history;
The child that sucketh long is shooting up,
The planet-ducted pelican of circles
Weans on an artery the gender's strip.1

If the exact meaning of these words escapes you, you are not alone. Thomas was better known for his lush, startling imagery, the evidence of his Welsh hwl (soul, creativity), than for the soundness of his logic. (He was also known as a lush whose behavior was sometimes startling, but never mind. His rockstar-poet lifestyle led to his death during a reading tour in 1953, and I hope he has been at peace since then.) Hwl, of course, is like lust. It is the impulse that gives rise to expression in various forms.

Dylan Thomas has always been one of my favorite poets, and his big themes (the circularity of life and death, the interconnection of all living things) seem sexy to me in a way that goes deeper than literal descriptions of body parts in action. The line "Death is all metaphors" seems self-evident to me. It is one of the universal events which can have diverse and contradictory meanings.

Sex, like death, can represent, embody or symbolize a dizzying variety of things. Sex can be communication, joining, delight, ecstasy, transformation, escape. It can be silly and fun. It can be profound and life-changing. It can be an elegant dance or a clown act. It can be bittersweet, especially when it causes two or more people to believe there is a personal bond between them when they are really responding to pheremones and the magic of touch. Sex can be comfort in a time of grief or trauma. It can be reassurance and emotional support. It can be a learning and teaching experience, or a form of research.

Editors of erotic magazines, websites and anthologies usually claim to want "sex-positive" stories. In some cases, this simply means that writers must avoid the standard taboos: no incest, no sex between characters under the age of consent in their jurisdiction (whether this age is 14 or 21), no sex with real animals (excluding magical creatures such as werewolves, mermaids and centaurs), no rape (non-consensual sex), or at least no rape described with approval. Any reasonably intelligent writer can see that these taboos are subject to interpretation and debate, and that all of them have been broken, not only in the kind of "porn" which is assumed to be a badly-written aid to masturbation, but in the kind of literature which is taught in universities. Don't blame erotic editors, however. They need to protect themselves from the enforcement of vaguely-worded laws against "obscenity."

This brings me to the issue of sex-negative writing, assuming there is such a thing. If sex is all metaphors, it can't always be a simple way to get happy. Sex can be a desperate, doomed attempt to bridge a gap in credibility or understanding. It can be an extreme form of exploitation. It can be the event that turns a high school girl who is desperate to fit in into a target for contempt from everyone she knows. It can be an attempt to prove something unprovable. Sex can be an act of self-hatred, or hatred of the other. It can be the means by which invading armies literally colonize the bodies of civilians, hoping to impregnate as many "enemy women" as possible. Sex, broadly defined, can destroy both body and soul.

Should erotic writers avoid saying anything disturbing about sex? The terms "adult" and "mature" are often used as euphemisms for sexual content, yet to avoid mentioning any negative emotions (guilt, hatred, rage, fear, despair, regret, etc.) in connection with sex is to limit oneself to a fairly childish view of the world. See Dick and Jane. Dick loves Jane. Jane loves Dick. See Dick and Jane fucking happily ever after. (For variation, see Adam and Steve or Xena and Gabrielle.)

Living in a human body seems inherently sexual to me. It is hard to imagine any situation involving human beings which couldn't include sexual feelings, if not sexual activities. Therefore the claim that erotic writers are "limiting" themselves to a literary ghetto seems bizarre to me. If anything, erotic writers are so diverse that we don't always speak the same language. Some honest members of the various lists here at ERWA have complained that they don't understand X (female/female or male/male attraction, polyamory, a particular fetish, role-playing, Dominance/submission, or the range of activities summed up as BDSM - bondage/discipline/sadism/masochism). There is usually someone else on the list who can explain X, as far as it can be explained in words.

A more fundamental credibility gap exists between those who believe that erotic writing should be sexual fantasy, an escape from the stuck zippers and frustrating interruptions of real life, and those who believe that literature worthy of respect, including the sexually-explicit kind, should shed light on the real world. The realists complain that the fantasists write unbelievable stuff, while the fantasists complain that gritty realism just doesn't satisfy a reader's need to get off. I believe there is room for both realism and fantasy in erotic literature, but the differences need to be acknowledged. In an ideal world, sex would always satisfy everyone involved. In the real world, sex often dramatizes social and political conditions, including differences in power. When a relatively privileged person buys sex from someone who needs to sell it to survive, it is clear whose lust drives the plot.

In this column, I hope to discuss a range of issues of interest to erotic writers, without violating any of the basic legal taboos. (Be warned that I might grumble about them.) Sex has been various metaphors in my life. Like a kaleidoscope, it shows a different picture with every change of position. Welcome to my world.

_
1 From Dylan Thomas: The Poems, by Dylan Thomas (J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., London, 1971 (first published 1937).

Jean Roberta
July 2008

______
"Sex Is All Metaphors" © 2008 Jean Roberta. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written


About the Author:Jean Roberta is the thin-disguise pen name of a writer who teaches mandatory first-year English classes in a Canadian prairie university and who writes fiction (erotic and otherwise), research-based articles, opinion pieces and reviews. She joined ERWA in December 1998, and has never looked back. Several of her stories can be found in the Treasure Chest gallery.
Jean has many publishing credits to her name, including Obsession (Eternal Press 2008), her single-author e-collection of erotic stories in various genres and flavor. “Smoke” in Best Fantastic Erotica Circlet Press 2008), The Personal Is Political, appears in Coming Together: With Pride (Phaze Publications June 2008).
Jean is a staff reviewer for the monthly reviews site, Erotica Revealed (edited by D.L. King). She blogs on Livejournal as "Lizardlez" and at www.goodsturdyjeans.blogspot.com. Her website (www.JeanRoberta.com) is a work in progress.
Read Jean's full bio at the Erotica Readers & Writers Association.



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'08 Movie Reviews

Almost Perfect
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The Fold
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Two
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Fallen
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'08 Book Reviews

Anthologies

Best Bisexual Women's Erotica
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Best Fantastic Erotica
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Best Women's Erotica '08
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Bound Brits (ebook)
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Dirty Girls
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Hide and Seek
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Hurts So Good
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J is for Jealousy
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K is for Kink
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Lust Bites
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Open for Business
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Possession
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Rubber Sex
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Rubber Sex
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Seriously Sexy
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Sex & Candy
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The Shadow of a... (poetry)
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Spanked
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Tasting Her
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Tasting Him
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Tasting Him
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White Flames
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Yes, Ma'am: Male Submission
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Yes, Sir: Female Submission
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Novels

The Art of Melinoe
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Demon by Day
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Gemini Heat
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Gothic Heat
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The Hidden Grotto Series
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The House of Blood
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In Too Deep
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In Too Deep
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Incognito
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Nicholas
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One Breath at a Time
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Out of the Shadows (ebook)
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Phantasmagoria
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Reckless
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Seduce Me
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Seduced by the Storm
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Serve the People!
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Signed, Sealed and Delivered
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Sunfire (eBook)
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Templar Prize
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The Wicked Sex
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Wild Kingdom
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Gay Erotica

Backdraft
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Best Gay Romance '08
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Hard Hats
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Leathermen
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Lesbian Erotica

Best Lesbian Erotica '08
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The Night Watch
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Non-Fiction

America Unzipped
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Best Sex Writing '08
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Bonk: The Curious Coupling
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The Book of Love
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Dishonorable Passions
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Flagrante Delicto (photos)
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The Flesh Press
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Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star
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The Humble Little Condom
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Instant Orgasm (sex guide)
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Man O Man! Writing M/M...
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The Not So Invisible Woman
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Swingers: Female...
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Who's Been Sleeping in...
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