Back through the lens

Today’s post isn’t a story, but rather about them. I wanted to expand a little on what I posted in the “On the Art of Erotica” page. As this is a first “discussion” post, I beg your indulgence if I ramble. I have questions for you and for myself in here.

I sometimes find myself multiply conflicted with what I’ve written. This hardly ever happens during the process of writing itself – at that time I’m too busy being in it to think at it from the outside. But it’s in the aftermath that I sometimes get one or another flavor of writer’s remorse.

Clearly, to me, sometimes it’s because what I’ve written turns out to look just bad, in the light of day. Or a theme which I wanted to explore really didn’t play out as interestingly or engagingly hot as I’d originally thought. And then there are some times when I have to sit back and think “where did that come from?”. On the lighter side, I can often ask that about the SF/F themes/settings/monsters. I’ve got a non-human/alien/monster/tentacle fetish (hello, Id) about a mile wide. On the darker side, some of the things I write can be bothersome.

When I was an adolescent I remember being extremely upset and angry that there was any part of me that could not be made to listen to reason. I never felt that those parts threatened to rule me – I just hated that they existed; whispering mean or hateful or whatever things to me. Some of the darker sexual fantasies are borne from that side. Again, they speak only in the imagination, and I could be upset at their mere existence. But instead, I write them down and, sometimes, look at them later for meaning beyond forbidden libidinous entertainment.

As a writer, especially one looking to grow an audience, perhaps become slightly better known, perhaps get something I’ve written into some kind of “legitimate” anthology, I wonder whether that stuff – that darker stuff – makes me damaged goods. Over the years I’ve received good feedback, which has been one of the main motivations to make these new steps (like blogging). But now that I have these higher things in my sights, am I already trying to fly with lead wings?

As I wrote in the “On Erotica” page, I also think rape, in the real world, should be a capital crime. I don’t care for any violence, and rape is one of the most abhorrent kinds of it. And yet I write, among other things, rape fantasies. I don’t feel conflicted about this, since I know where the bright line lives. The exploration of fantasy – even the darkest kind – is still just that. However, I have read and been told that could make me untouchable to the world of mainstream erotica. But then, perhaps, that merely means the mainstream is not where I’m looking to go.

And it’s not just the nonconsensual that I wonder about. I write some d/s themes even though I’m neither D nor s. I write bondage without owning so much as a pair of handcuffs. I write control fantasy in many many forms, though happily live the most vanilla of lives. There’s the question of authenticity. Are the voices I imagine anything like real? Am I simply fooling myself and readers who don’t know those worlds intimately? And even if so, does it really matter? Of course, it is the nagging feeling that the answer to the latter is yes that has me writing this thought down to begin with.

That’s all for now. As you can see, my thoughts on these issues are still going ’round. They have been for at least 20 years, and likely will continue. I’d love to hear yours.

Latest Comments

  1. willcrimson says:

    My thoughts: Your stories are more like erotic fables or “fairy tales”.

    When reading Brothers Grimm, think of all the monsters, witches and children who are killed, eaten, or threatened by them. Only the most literal ask themselves what kind of monsters would read or tell those stories. The world of the fable and fairy tale is steeped in metaphor, symbol and archetype. In a sense, they mean what they say, and in another sense they don’t.

    The story of Hansel and Gretel, for instance, is about much more than a Witch wanting cook and eat children. It’s about the fear of starvation in a medieval Europe where the birth of a child could be the difference between survival and death. The witch isn’t a witch at all – but that’s another subject. Your stories work at the level of the fable – not fiction. They express an understanding of eroticism through symbolism and archetype.

    As to confusing you with the stories you create, that’s hardly limited to erotica. Just because Stephen King writes about psychopaths (in the symbolic guise of cars and clowns) doesn’t make him a psychopath. I remember reading the same sort of comments (as your own) from Anne Rice in reference to her pseudonym, A.N. Roquelaure.

    • Monocle says:

      Thanks, Will. I like your perspective, and hadn’t thought of it from the Brothers Grimm angle. Their original fairy tales were indeed some twisted, dark things. It also ties into some of the Fantasy and SF elements – more of a true parallel to witches, fairies, and monsters. It is the “merely” human monsters in some of my stories that still push that definition a little, but conceptually, I still think you’re right. Perhaps I should tag that flavor of story “Erotic Fable”.

      In a few days I’ll be posting a longer story that definitely falls into the “real-world setting” Fable category – a somewhat claustrophobic exploration of surrender.

    • willcrimson says:

      I like your perspective, and hadn’t thought of it from the Brothers Grimm angle.

      But, I think, that’s the genre in which you’re writing.

      I would be tempted to call them Dark Erotic Fables. That puts the emphasis in the right place. At heart, you strike me as a fabulist. You prefer to work through symbolism – and symbolism is at the heart of fables, fairy tales and folk tales. Speaking of folk stories, there’s a book called American Indian Myth And Legend. Some of these stories are hardly less erotically “perverse” than yours. But yes, understand the literary tradition in which you’re imagination works, and perhaps your stories won’t feel so monstrous to you.

  2. Ashley says:

    Monocle, you write…”Am I simply fooling myself and readers who don’t know those worlds intimately? And even if so, does it really matter?”

    As a writer, it is your way… the road to suspended disbelief .. without imagination, we have no art.. just data-fill cyborg existance.

    My own method seldom extends beyond erotic or sexy dares ( like tonight ) or performance art as I have done with William Crimson.. The story I sent you today was one such… My ‘reseach’ consisted in acting out with a number of tools/ toys during a four day writing process.. with much finger fucking while typing.

    But it was no less real for being a child of my imagination. I have never been raped, but I have often fantisized about being forced in an oral sex gang bang in a most humiliating and delightful way… I think, if I’d been drugged like your Danielle character at the rave, I might actually submit to an oral sex only version.

    I’ve never done that… but it’s the one thing I just might do.

    • Monocle says:

      Thank you, Ashley. Your story was most illustrative (perhaps we can coax you to share it here?), and I see your point. I also heartily endorse your research and writing methods. And it’s always reassuring to hear others imagine in the same direction I do.

      I think this post enabled me to have a bit of a crisis of confidence. In public as it were, with the hope that others would indeed come to my rescue and say “there, there, it’s all right.” If I were feeling more cynical that would also sound quite narcissistic, but I think it’s honest. One of the reasons to blog is to put yourself more out there, including thoughts you’ve kept close to the vest, and see how they look in the light of day to yourself and others.

  3. Ange says:

    I’ve been a fan of your writing since i discovered the joys of the internet in the early 2000s.put simply,you write my fantasies,and about a million times better than i ever could.yes,they’re dark,and were they real,they’d be horrific.but imagination is another world that only borrows from ours.what you breathe life into there isn’t automatically granted passage into reality,making you a sick person.you choose to leave it where it belongs,thereby rendering it’s exploration harmless.And i do beieve that exploring the darkest corner of onesself is essential to understanding onesself totally.
    I don’t believe that having these thoughts in the first place is damning.it may well be some perversion of the psyche that causes me to find the things you write about (impregnation,rape,tentacles,vulnerable females) erotic,but as long as it stays fantasy,and does not become an obsession,i’m not overly concerned with what turns me on.
    on the flipside,you also write some of the most engaging romantic erotica i’ve ever read.i don’t worry for the soul of anyone who can also create such beauty.Would that the heroes in those stories *could* cross the imagination border.
    i’m a woman,if that makes any difference in terms of viewpoint.

    • willcrimson says:

      Surely you must be confusing Monocle with RedBud? ;-) <— Jealous.

    • Ange says:

      haha Redbud,i’ve only just discovered your existence this evening via the bloglink on Monocle’s asstr site.i’m sure once i read it i’ll thoroughly enjoy it as well.

    • Monocle says:

      Ange, Thank you so much! First, it is an incredible feeling to even know ‘long time fans’ exist, and I am grateful. Second, I agree with all you’ve said. It took me a long time to understand and accept the various negatve parts of my own psyche – parts everyone has, and nearly everyone controls. I hated their very exisitence, and it took some time to come to grips with them. I don’t know if that job will ever finish. Stories became – and remain – one of the methods I used in that continuing pursuit.

      Also I am tremendously happy that the flipside also appeals. Two sides of the same coin, as the cliche goes, and I do enjoy reading and writing both.

      Thank you again, for taking the time to write, and share your thoughts. It really means a lot.

    • Ange says:

      my pleasure!i’m glad you tried blogging.it’s a very weird feeling to have a favorite erotica author.with mainstream authors being a fan is such a sanctioned,normal thing,writing fan letters and showing up for booksignings and such.when the subject matter is so…taboo,for lack of a better word,you wonder if maybe there’s something wrong with you to enjoy someone’s work as much as you do!
      As for the internal struggle,i think every self-aware,thinking person goes through it.some lose to their worse impulses,some get lost in it,and some find a way to use working through it to their best advantage.by creating your stories and making them available to people,i think you give them the opportunity to look at their own dark side as well.
      and really,the more romantic stuff still has elements of the dark stuff,but purer.The women in the lighter stories still belong to their men,but they submit by choice,and it doesn’t at all make them weak.what i love is the way you really play with archetypal feminine and masculine without the characters ever coming across as…charicatures,i guess.anyway,i’m feel like a gushing fangirl at this point,so i’ll just say,well done and don’t worry.

    • Monocle says:

      Thank you again. And, for the record (and Will will back me up on this), we love fangirls, so you can gush all you want, any way you want. What a lovely capper for the night!

  4. Ange says:

    um-how did i get an ugly icon?

  5. Ange says:

    ah.just curious,not bothered.i was wondering how it had been decided that a small,fanged red monster with a comb-over was to be my visual representation.
    willcrimson-ba dump bump. ;)

  6. Stephanie says:

    I literally laughed out loud when I read Ange’s comment in the 2009 thread: “you wonder if maybe there’s something wrong with you to enjoy someone’s work as much as you do! As for the internal struggle,i think every self-aware,thinking person goes through it” I had the same thought as I started exploring your blog, Will & Raz. Like, oh my, how do I process this? Is it okay to share how much I enjoy these stories? And, I am also a gushing fangirl. There, I said it, and I’ll own it. 😊

    • Monocle says:

      Stephanie, it is more than OK to tell us how much you like the stories. I promise you – we never get bored of that.

  7. Kate says:

    I recently discovered your site and am repeatedly impressed with the quality of the writing. It’s tightly woven, explicit in imagery yet delicate in diction, and a pleasure on multiple levels. Thanks for sharing and opening up not only the literary works but also insight into the process. Lovely to find a guilty pleasure so beautifully written!

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