Check it out: up on the fantastic Erotica Readers And Writers Association blog is a new Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker piece - AND I have a new article on the fun WriteSex site. Here are teases of both - just click on the [MORE] button to go to the full thing.
A pal of mine asked an interesting question once: what's my definition of erotica, or of pornography? Other folks have been asked these questions, of course, and the answers have been as varied as those asked, but even as I zapped off my own response I started to really think about how people define what they write, and more importantly, why.
It's easy to agree with folks who say there's a difference between erotica and pornography. One of the most frequent definitions is that erotica is sexually explicit literature that talks about something else aside from sex, while porno is sex, sex and more sex and nothing else. The problem with trying to define erotica is that it's purely subjective—even using the erotica-is-more-than-just-sex and porn-is- just-sex-analysis. Where's the line and when do you cross it? One person's literate erotica is another's pure filth. Others like to use a proportional scale a certain percent of sex content—bing!—something becomes porn. Once again: Who sets the scale?
What I find interesting isn't necessarily what the distinction between erotica and pornography should be but why there should be one to begin with. Some writers I've encountered seem to be looking for a clear-cut definition just so they won't be grouped together with the likes of Hustler and Spank Me, Daddy. While I agree that there's a big difference between what's being published in some of the more interesting anthologies, magazines and Web sites as opposed to Hustler and Spank Me, Daddy, I also think that a lot of this searching for a definition is more about ego and less about literary analysis. Rather than risk being put on the shelves next to Hustler and Spank Me Daddy, some writers try to draw up lists and rules that naturally favor what they write compared to what other people write: "I write erotica, but that other stuff is just pornography. Therefore what I write is better."
Sure, we may all want to just cuddle in our little garrets, a purring pile of fur in our laps, leather patches on our sleeves, a pipe at the ready, and do nothing but write masterpieces all day and night – with periodic breaks for binge-drinking and soon-to-be legendary sexual escapades – but the fact of the matter is that being a writer has totally, completely, changed.I’m not just talking about the need to be a marketing genius and a publicity guru – spending, it feels too often, more time tweeting about Facebook, or Facebooking about tweeting, than actually writing – but that authors really need to be creative when it comes to not just getting the word out about their work but actually making money.
A lot of people who claim to be marketing geniuses and publicity gurus will say that talking about you and your work as loud as possible, as often as possible, is the trick … but have you heard the joke about how to make money with marketing and PR? Punchline: get people to pay you to be a marketing genius and/or a publicity guru. In short: just screaming at the top of the tweety lungs or burying everyone under Facebook posts just won’t do it.
Not that having some form of presence online isn’t essential – far from it: if people can’t find you, after all, then they can’t buy your books. But there’s a big difference between being known and making everyone run for the hills – or at least stop up their9 ears – anytime you say or do anything online.
Balance is the key: don’t just talk about your books or your writing – because, honesty, very few people care about that … even your readers – instead fine a subject that interests you and write about that as well. Give yourself some dimension, some personality, some vulnerability, something … interesting, and not that you are not just an arrogant scream-engine of me-me-me-me. Food, travel, art, history, politics … you pick it, but most of all have fun with it. Forced sincerity is just about as bad as incessant narcissism.