Friday, October 11, 2019

Phallic Friday - Erotic After Dark Workshop

Erotic After Dark is a workshop, hosted by the South Coast Writers Centre and Wollongong Library that's beginning next week, find out more here. If you'd like to book, the link is here.

This is a series of four gatherings to work on and discuss erotic writing. Too often this sort of writing is shunned and not talked about, but I don't think it's so bad. Erotic writing has always occurred. It's not something new.

Many times 'erotic' has been a catch-cry to shock or garner attention, but in my mind erotic writing is something that fills the mind, touches the senses, and engages.

What is erotic writing?

To me, it's writing that is primarily centred around sex. So much so, that if you remove the sex from the story, there is no story.

It doesn't have a specific genre or literary component to fit. It can stand alone.

It can also slip in with any genre, e.g. erotic thriller, erotic horror, erotic romance, erotic suspense, erotic crime. But whatever genre it works in, sex is still the focus of the story. If the sex was removed, the story still does not exist.

Let me illustrate with an example. After the huge success of Fifty Shades of Grey, quite a few books came out claiming to be erotic (in many genres), or claiming to be the next thing to read if you liked Fifty Shades. Most claims were false, in my mind. I bought an erotic thriller. It wasn't. It was a thriller, suspenseful, dark, crime novel, certainly, and it had sex in it for sure. But the sex was added to the story - loads of sex, sometimes only a couple of sentences to indicate that there had been sex. This isn't erotic by my definition. I could have taken all that sex out and there was still a story - less provocative but still there. The sex didn't add to the character development, it just happened. It wasn't described to engage the reader, it was there as words to show it had sex, as a marketing ploy. Sometimes I had to re-read sections to see why/if she'd had sex, but then I still wasn't clear as to the motivation or reason. It was just an event, like smoking a cigarette or walking down the street.

If you look back in time at erotic writing, it's been used for many purposes, but whatever the purpose, the central theme was sex.

The writings of Sappho, who lived between 620 and 570 BCE, are some of the early erotic poetry still read today. It's poetry of love and lust, to delight the senses. The Song of Songs in the Old Testament of The Bible is again a love story of a couple coming together in marriage and then being apart before coming together again. The Kama Sutra is probably one of the most well-known pieces of erotic writing. Vatsyayana is thought to have lived somewhere between the 1st and 6th century CE. It's many lessons on how to live and love.

The Carnal Prayer Mat bu Li Yu was written in the 1650s in China and is an erotic comedy which also gives social commentary. In 1748, John Cleland's erotic novel, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, Fanny Hill, was first published. A story of a young woman's debauchery after being orphaned. The work of the Marquis de Sade came later, after the 1760s and were dark erotic stories also with social commentary (although there is some dispute about this). Most had themes of sexual awakening /education /debauchery.

Erotic writing changes through time, as all literature does, but the central theme of sex does not change. It's the hallmark of the term.

Sex is a fascinating way of looking at humanity and making comments on society. If you're interested at all, come along and join in the discussion.

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