I’ve always wanted to write an erotic novel. What writer wouldn’t? But start researching for it, and one soon gets into the world of porn. Most of it seems to be exploitative, gratuitous and actually incredibly unsexy – but then you inevitably find something that is genuinely exciting (as you have to do, otherwise your erotic novel is going to be bloody dull).
At that point, I can see how people get hooked on this stuff. Blogger and psychologist Leon Seltzer writes:
Porn viewing releases many of the same chemicals triggered by street drug use. Over time, these chemicals change the brain in significant ways. Basically, the frontal lobes shrink and become increasingly handicapped. This is the part of the brain that controls reasoning, logic, values, goals, self-discipline, self-restraint and willpower. At the same time, the Limbic System of the brain is hyper-activated and becomes dominant. This part of the brain has one narrow focus—the intense pursuit of instant pleasure and reward at the cost of everything else.
Yet erotic adventure is deeply human and exciting. Another blogger, Art Durkee, writes:
Eros celebrates. Eros maintains space for the laughter of joy and play. Eros embodies, and sanctifies, and makes holy. Thus, erotic art is celebratory, and erotic poetry is a poetry of praise.
That, I suppose, is the truth about sexuality; it is both (potentially) incredibly spiritual and soul-expanding and also ties into potentially destructive ‘feedback loops’. So it seems that writing erotic fiction is about living with that tension.
I guess fiction generally is about the tension between people’s desires and aspirations and the reality of the world (which includes human psychology). Fiction formulae often say, ‘Create a character with a deep need, then put loads of obstacles in their way’. In popular fiction, they have to overcome them. In more literary fiction, they can fail, but beautifully and instructively.
Maybe my great erotic novel will never get written. If it does, will I have the courage to publish it under my own name? (One can have lots of fun thinking of slightly silly aliases.) But even considering it has been thought-provoking. Life is difficult. Hooray!