On the hunt for good erotica (I know it when I see it)
When I was working on the redesign of this blog, I knew that I needed to put more on it than just my own stories about phone sex and sidewalk smut and my weird touring life. Partly I wanted to support other creators of sex-positive art and literature, by helping to get the word out about their work, and partly I need to get myself out of my own head. I firmly believe that artists need to get inspiration from other artists, but then I looked at what I myself had read or watched recently, or who i had talked to, in a serious, perv-to-perv way, and I was like, whoa. I'm actually not walking the walk.
So I did a little outreach, with a focus on written erotica (I might do films later). I posted a few calls, pinged a few editors, got a few hits—in fact, I'm pretty sure the "unable to deliver" package that is waiting for me at the local post office is a bundle of books I requested—and got a couple of e-contributions already. Very exciting. One I read and reviewed (Sinclair Sexsmith's Sweet and Rough collection here), and one I read and… well, stewed.
I couldn't review it. Rather, I could review it, but I couldn't recommend it. It works well enough for what it is, but it's laced with fatphobia and why would I want to help push more of that out there into the world? And then I realized that I had to sit some more and think about what kinds of erotica and smut art I do want to recommend. What are some of the qualities of the things that I am most interested in covering? Here is the beginning of a list:
- Things that are not getting a lot of traction in mainstream erotica markets. This means kink and queer.
- Things that are not getting a lot of coverage even in those niche subsets, e.g. I can skip the cis-gendered male-dom/female sub genre.
- Writing that doesn't fall into clichéd tropes. There are many, but one person on my FB thread on this subject mentioned the "it turned out the stranger was my husband all along" 'twist'; another person decried overly precise details about body measurements.
- Writing that isn't bigoted around size/race/gender presentation, etc.
- Writing that doesn't wax too heavy on either protocol or equipment.
In looking at this list, I realize that I've mostly made a list of negative qualities. Dammit. Let me flip those items and make a more positive effort:
- Works that feel like a real find, both in mainstream and niche contexts.
- Evocative writing that pulls my mind in different ways.
- Writing that focuses on positive attraction.
- Work that digs into authentic, unique interpersonal connection.
(There are additional qualities, obviously, that I seek in smut/porn/erotica to consume for my own pleasure. But in looking for works to recommend, I'll be doing my best to set my own preferences on the back burner.)
The main thing I realized I don't want to be in the business of critiquing. That is not my primary aim in writing, and besides which, I do not have the time or money to write about everything that comes down the pike. Of course this means I have to figure out what to tell people when I am soliciting works to look at; something like "I can't guarantee that I'm going to write about your work, and here's why I might not." I guess I'll send 'em to this post.
More than anything I want to get better and more targeted with my suggestions when someone asks me, "So what else is out there besides Fifty Shades?" I am looking for things that I can honestly and heartily offer up.
So much is out there, of that I am sure. I can't wait to find it.
Got some recommendations? Email them to me at email@example.com
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