It’s not my fault.

No, seriously.

Apparently, my “best” writing is erotica. Popularly known to my friends as softcore porn. In the literary world these two are not the same thing, but for readers, the distinguishment does not need to be made.

I spent most of last summer experimenting in what was, for me, a new genre. I’ve been reading romance novels since I was around 6 (back when they were full of chaste kisses and hand holding) and have been writing romance/drama since age 14. I wasn’t really into the love thing until college, when I discovered it was easier for me to write that than focus on building a good suspenseful plot with well-developed characters. (Kinda sucks since my first passion is horror stories and I can’t write anything scary to save my life.) This is not to say that romance novels can’t be well-written, but most of the good romance ideas have already been done. There’s only so many ways to do the surprise-baby-playing-hard-to-get-fight-and-make-up-three-pages-from-the-end thing. In the past few years I have discovered the dozens of subgenres associated with romance, so please don’t get the idea that it’s limited to the basic boy-meets-girl scenario. I wouldn’t have been writing it this long if that was the case.

I blame one of my friends for the predicament I’m in now. Until high school, my main (really, only) writing influence was Stephen King. I picked up the occassional Christpher Pike or R.L. Stine as a kid, but no one does horror like The Master. By my sophomore year, I was convinced I was going to publish a book of horror shorts scary enough to have people screaming in bed, too frightened to turn out their lights and too excited to stop reading before the end. Then I came across an early version of my friend’s message board. It was dedicated to my favorite entertainer and full of something I’d never thought I’d find: horny female fans. Imagine that, innocent little me at age 16, marvelling over how “real” women found my fantasy man attractive. My friend was writing a novel starring said fantasy man and… well let’s just say reading that one changed my life.

Less than a year later, I started my own story about him (no comments from the peanut gallery—I WILL finish it soon) and haven’t really been able to stop since. At first, I was writing the typical fan fic stuff: excited fan meets her idol, blahblahblah, they live happily ever after. As I got further into the story, I realized I had a knack for suspense so I kept adding twists into the story in order to keep it going. No, this is not a good writing technique, but it worked for me at the time. I shied away from writing about sex in these stories for two reasons. First, I wanted people to like my story because it was good, not because it was a non-stop orgy with the merest suggestion of a plot. Second, (my friends don’t believe me on this because they didn’t know me when I started the story) I am SUCH a prude when it comes to sex. I can’t even read someone else’s (mild) story without blushing.

As you might imagine, this has changed a bit.

I was asked by someone I was close to at the time to inject a sex scene randomly into the story. Now seriously, the only reason I did it at that point was because it was my friend asking. Anyone else would’ve gotten a flat-out no. After all, how much sense does it make to add sex into Chapter 18 when you didn’t get into any detailed coupling scenes earlier in the novel? If you’re going to write it out, the first time the couple is together should really be it. I didn’t think of this common sense argument when having this discussion with my friend, so I buckled down and laid down 6 pages of hot steamy lovin’ outside in the rain. Maaaaaaaan! The reaction to that? You would’ve thought the next chapter of the story came with a video of the goings on. As I wrote the last few chapters of my masterpiece, I tried to steer the story away from any possible porn-inspired moments, not hard since my heroine was pregnant with twins by that point.

Two things happened in the intervening years to change the course of my writing. The first, I started reading Harlequin Blaze novels and my inner A. N. Roquelaure was inspired to come out and play (I plan on publishing with them when my current WIP is complete). Then, I was practically challenged by friends at this message board to come up with something a little spicy to read. Truth be told, we all had waaay too much time on our hands that summer, and pushing the boundaries was a way to release some long-held tension.

I was in the middle of rewriting my formerly chaste fan fic when it occurred to me that prudishness and fantasy had no reason to be associated with each other. If I wanted my fantasy man, I—er, my heroine—could have him, any way she damn well pleased! Gee, after that the story got really dirty. It’s not my fault, the couple in the story like expressing their love in very um… public ways. You can only write what the characters tell you, you know.

Back to our little summer adventures. We started debating whether said entertainer could be into ladies of the night and somehow that spawned a story (or three). Then one of the ladies started wondering if he could be sleeping with a (married!!!) business associate. Somehow in all of this, I had the man going out in disguise to meet women, having sex with a complete stranger in a hotel room, and being on the receiving end of a little whip and candle action. Darn that HBO for putting ideas in my head!

So what’s my real complaint after all this gabbing? It’s sick, but after all these years of writing fic and posting at this board, I really do get the most responses when I “sacrifice” plot for porn. Now, I try to put as much “story” as I can into the overall piece, but when the whole purpose is to write a sexual adventure, there’s only so much you can do to make it legit. I’d like to think I’m a decent writer period, but I think I might be trying to find out with the wrong crowd. Either that or I’m not.

What sucks even more, one of the ladies gifted me with the title Porn Queen over the summer. Yay? Yes. Wonderful. Now I’m infamous for smut when I don’t particularly like writing it in the first place. It’s not… challenging. No, that’s not quite what I want to say, but that’s the word my brain is spitting out at the moment.

So what did I do? Embrace this apparent gift and run with it? Nah. That would be too simple. I stopped writing such graphic stories for months. Only recently did I post anything even remotely sexual and that was because it was bouncing around my brain faster than Tom Cruise on an unarmed couch (that poor, poor couch).

I’ve decided I may as well embrace it. Who knows when I’ll have time for “real” writing? Besides, erotica does pay well. And at least I’m not starring in the movies.