The Joys of Embarrassment

A few months ago I started doing something that I never thought I would do. I began submitting my erotica pieces to my critique group. It was a big step that, quite frankly, left me kind of nauseated. Now, the members of the group are not prudes by any stretch of the imagination. We're all pretty open-minded and will tackle any writing-related task. (Well, except for me when it comes to Splatterpunk. shudder

At first, I submitted pieces that had the sexy bits redacted. I literally put the word redacted in place of things that I was a little too embarrassed to have people know I wrote. This eventually led to a great play on that word, which in turn led to an idea for a current in-progress project. Now, though, it's all there for the world to see. Every glorious description of genitalia, sex acts, you name it. People can choose to read it or not.

And everything was great with that arrangement until last night. Three new people joined the group. They were fresh eyes. Fresh voices. Fresh reasons to be embarrassed all over again. But why? For me, I think the reason goes back to what I said to another writer in the group. She writes romance, and she wants to make it more erotic. She just can't get over that initial hump (pun intended) of knowing other people are going to be reading it and discussing it with her. Face to face. Without the safety of distance and anonymity of a pseudonym.

When she asked for advice on writing erotica, this is what I told her: The best advice I can give, based on the assumption that you truly want to write erotica, is to write it as if no one is going to read it for critique. Write it to be enjoyed. Write it to arouse you. Not to get into icky territory, but my erotica turns me on. Write about things that stimulate you because they'll stimulate others. If you're into it, others will be too. Just breathe. Imagine the scene. Let the characters do what they want. Have fun. And don't worry that someone else is going to read it because that is ultimately why we write.

There is part of the author in everything he/she writes. It can be embarrassing for people to know that we sat and thought about these acts. That we probably enjoy these acts. Sex and sexuality for so long have been equated with privacy and intimacy. To discuss them openly, or to write about them with the intent of titillating an audience, can still be considered debaucherous or crude. But, if the success of Fifty Shades of Grey has taught us anything, it's that there is always a market for everything. Oh, and sex sells. 

So, I would invite you, if you don't already, to let someone you know read your work before you put it out there. Let yourself be embarrassed. You never know what might come of it.