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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

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
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
I’m Easy, But I’m 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
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

The Fickle Muse

by Jean Roberta

The Fickle Muse



Erotic writers, like non-erotic writers, need to feel motivated and inspired. For some of us, the impulse to write feels so connected to sexual energy that all our writing—including the most “respectable”—seems to flow from our glands as well as our brains. For those who write as a hobby, whenever the mood strikes, this isn’t a problem.

Becoming a “professional” (getting paid, being invited to submit stories by editors who know our work, being expected to produce new work by a deadline, being invited to speak at conferences or workshops) means entering a different game. At this point, sex writing becomes a kind of sex work. Customers expect professionals to show real enthusiasm as well as skill, but no one’s energy or libido runs full-strength all the time. Sometimes the well seems to run dry.

Some of the most accomplished writers on the ERWA lists have complained about crawling through the desert of the empty mind, where ideas for stories, poems or plays look sparse and unworthy. Panic and self-contempt tend to make the imaginative drought worse.

When a lack of interest in sex-writing is accompanied by a lack of interest in sex, the sufferer can feel as if his/her life is over. Significant Others (as distinct from paying customers, who can just go elsewhere) tend to resent rejection or obvious fakery. Some blame the writer’s erotic writing as the cause of the problem, as though the writing were an interfering human rival.

The writer’s relationship can become so painful for everyone involved that it could inspire a tragic plot about interpersonal alienation. But that is a whole other can of worms. A writer who feels guilty for disappointing a lover or spouse as well as an editor is likely to avoid the writing process as much as possible. Procrastination aggravates the writer’s sense of failure.

The sixteenth-century English poet Sir Philip Sidney began his sequence of love sonnets, “Astrophil and Stella,” by complaining of writer’s block. “Astrophil” (star-lover), i.e. Sir Philip, claims that he can’t find accurate words to describe “Stella,” the star of his life, or his feelings for her. He has tried reading the work of other writers for inspiration:

“. . .Oft turning others’ leaves, to see if thence would flow
Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sun-burned brain.”

The results have been disappointing:

“But words came halting forth, wanting Invention’s stay;
Invention, Nature’s child, fled step-dame Study’s blows;
And others’ feet still seemed but strangers in my way.”

What to do? A supernatural being, the poet’s “Muse”or guardian spirit, intervenes:

“’Fool,’ said my Muse to me, ‘look in thy heart, and write.’”

This seems like good advice to me, especially if “heart” is interpreted broadly.  In my experience, neither ideas nor the motivation to write ever really go away; they simply hibernate or disappear temporarily when not treated with the respect they need to do their job. In this sense, each of us seems to have a touchy Muse who responds to neglect by going on strike.

The kind of help that wanderers in the sexual/imaginative desert usually ask for seems exactly wrong to me. A person in that condition is likely to be distracted by various demands, conflicting messages and obligations already. Adding more outside stimulation to the mix is likely to increase the clamor in the sufferer’s psyche.

Sometimes one needs to turn off the rest of the world and find a quiet room of one’s own in order to hear the Muse. Living in a human body is inherently sensual, so hearing what yours has to say is likely to lead to sexual feelings if they are not suppressed or outshouted. Physical feelings are connected to emotions as well as images. Before you know it, a story may unfold before your mind’s-eye.

Whether your goal is to reawaken sexual feelings or to conceive a new piece of writing, try asking your physical self these questions:

  • Feet, how ya doing? You work hard, carrying me from place to place. I bet you would like a massage, or at least some fresh air and something good on your skin. How do you like this carpet?
  • Legs, you beautifully curved columns, you support me well. How would you like to be touched?
  • Ahh Crotch, you contain treasures. Do you really want to be left alone? If so, I’ll come back to you later. Remember that you can ask for what you want.
  • Buttocks, you sassy cushions. You have muscles under the fat that gives you such an appealing shape. I’ll just flex you a few times. Feel free to pass a message to Crotch.

By now, you’re getting the picture. Focusing on each part of your body in turn, from feet to head or vice versa, is the best way I know of to reawaken the Muse. And despite what prudish authority figures have told you about the animal stupidity of human flesh, physical feelings are rarely crude or simple. (For that matter, even animals have their own wisdom, as pet-owners know.)

Just for the moment, data on which genres are still selling well in a troubled publishing market have no relevance. Feet, arms, tummy and all the other parts connected to them don’t care about the market. Neither do they care about deadlines, guidelines, negative reviews, wars in the blogosphere, or grammatical issues. There is a place for all those things, but they don’t belong in a quiet room prepared for the Muse.

I wish I could honestly say that I never get lost in the desert of writer’s block or sexual indifference, but I am subject to the same distractions as other people living in the modern world—and my immediate environment is more urban than you might imagine when I say that I live on the vast prairie in the heart of North America. The town I live in has a population of 200,000, which was the size of London, England, when Wordsworth wrote a love-sonnet to the city, “Lines Upon Westminster Bridge,” in 1802.

Now there’s a thought. If the Muse lives in every body, she also lives in every place. Living “mindfully,” or paying attention to the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, temperature and vibes of the place where you are, is the best way I know of to coax her out. After that, the rest of the process is just fine-tuning.

Jean Roberta
October 2008

Follow Jean Roberta's trail to Sex Is All Metaphors in our 2008 Archive.

"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. Over sixty of her erotic stories have been published in print anthologies, and Eternal Press has released her single-author e-collection of erotic stories in various genres and flavors, Obsession (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 Her website ( is a work in progress.
Read Jean's full bio at Erotica Readers & Writers Association.

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'08 Movie Reviews

Almost Perfect
Review by Oranje

The Fold
Review by Ashley Lister

Review by Spooky

Review by Spooky

'08 Book Reviews


Best Bisexual Women's Erotica
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Fantastic Erotica
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Women's Erotica '08
Review by Ashley Lister

Bound Brits (ebook)
Review by Ashley Lister

Deep Inside: Extreme ...
Review by Cervo

Dirty Girls
Review by Rose B. Thorny

Hide and Seek
Review by Ashley Lister

Hurts So Good
Review by Ashley Lister

J is for Jealousy
Review by Ashley Lister

K is for Kink
Review by Ashley Lister

Lust Bites
Review by Ashley Lister

Open for Business
Review by Rose B. Thorny

Review by Lisabet Sarai

Rubber Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Rubber Sex
Review by Victoria Blisse

Seriously Sexy
Review by Ashley Lister

Sex & Candy
Review by Ashley Lister

The Shadow of a... (poetry)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Victoria Blisse

Tasting Her
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Tasting Him
Review by Ashley Lister

Tasting Him
Review by Kathleen Bradean

White Flames
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Yes, Ma'am: Male Submission
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Yes, Sir: Female Submission
Review by Angelika Devlyn


The Art of Melinoe
Review by Ashley Lister

Demon by Day
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Gemini Heat
Review by Ashley Lister

Gothic Heat
Review by Ashley Lister

The Hidden Grotto Series
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The House of Blood
Review by Lisabet Sarai

In Too Deep
Review by Ashley Lister

In Too Deep
Review by Victoria Blisse

Review by Donna George Storey

Review by Victoria Blisse

One Breath at a Time
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Out of the Shadows (ebook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Ashley Lister

Review by Rose B. Thorny

Seduce Me
Review by Ashley Lister

Seduced by the Storm
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Serve the People!
Review by Donna G. Storey

Signed, Sealed and Delivered
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Sunfire (eBook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Templar Prize
Review by Angelika Devlyn

The Wicked Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Wild Kingdom
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Gay Erotica

Review by Vincent Diamond

Best Gay Romance '08
Review by Vincent Diamond

Hard Hats
Review by Vincent Diamond

Review by Kathleen Bradean

Lesbian Erotica

Best Lesbian Erotica '08
Review by Donna George Storey

Best Lesbian Erotica '08
Review by Ashley Lister

The Night Watch
Review by Lisabet Sarai


America Unzipped
Review by Rob Hardy

Best Sex Writing '08
Review by Rob Hardy

Bonk: The Curious Coupling
Review by Rob Hardy

The Book of Love
Review by Rob Hardy

Casanova: Actor Lover ...
Review by Rob Hardy

Dishonorable Passions
Review by Rob Hardy

Flagrante Delicto (photos)
Review by Jack Gilbert

The Flesh Press
Review by Rob Hardy

Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star
Review by Donna G. Storey

The Humble Little Condom
Review by Rob Hardy

Instant Orgasm (sex guide)
Review by Ashley Lister

Man O Man! Writing M/M...
Review by Vincent Diamond

The Not So Invisible Woman
Review by Ashley Lister

Swingers: Female...
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Who's Been Sleeping in...
Review by Rob Hardy