I’ve been thinking about this question for some time now and I have a multitude of answers. The obvious answer - that I read (and write) for arousal - is not the one that first comes to my mind. My first answer is… for knowledge. I know, a strange thing to say. Let me try to explain.
In year 6 when we had the ‘birds and the bees’ talk, I was given a book. I learned all I knew from that book. Being a bookworm, I guess I naturally gravitated to reading for knowledge. You can’t die of embarrassment when you’re reading, like you can by asking a dumb question. I like to learn. I like to expand my mind. I like to read.
When writing erotic stories, I think it’s important that scenes have a “truth” to them. I’d hate to think people were seeking knowledge when there’s no knowledge behind the writing of the story. I’m not saying as a writer you need to do everything you write, but I believe you have to have an understanding about (and empathy for) what you write.
Sexual knowledge is important. I was guest of honour at a welcome-to-town ladies luncheon some years ago when the conversation ended up about sex. Someone shared the building with the youth worker who had free condoms and dental dams available. These were brought to the lunch (why? I have no idea). There were a dozen women and no one could explain what a dental dam was used for. No one could even imagine what it was used for. Maybe it was a test, I don’t know, but I ended up explaining. I couldn’t stand people not knowing, especially in the age of safe sex. To say they squealed like twelve-year-olds is no exaggeration. I was horrified. Can't grown women talk about sex without acting like kids? How are we meant to learn and teach kids if that's the reaction to a safe sex issue? They seriously needed education, maybe through erotic reading. Hmm… might send them some bookmarks!
I’ve read all manner of erotic stories. All manner of crime stories. All manner of horror and fantasy. I’ve learned heaps. It doesn’t mean I’ve gone out and tried it all! But I like to know what’s out there, what’s in other people’s minds, how other people think of things and describe things. Is that weird?
I’m also a bit of a rebel at heart. I like to read these stories purely because they’re not ‘mainstream’ reading. I like to write them to push me beyond my mainstream life. I like to push myself beyond my comfort zone, make my brain contort to think of how things would feel even if I’ve never experienced them.
There’s somewhat of a challenge in writing sex scenes. They need to be plausible - body parts are located in the same place on everyone. They need to convey the act without being flowery or revolting. It requires discussion about parts of the body, and body emissions, often not deemed fit for discussion.
Some of the most sensuous writing can be found in erotic stories. A sentence that whips the breath from you. A phrase that perfectly conveys. A paragraph that slides across your senses.
It’s not often that a story, or a scene, grabs me and causes arousal but when it does, what a ride!