What I Learned by Writing Erotica

  • This is an essay I wrote in response to the Belle Knox controversy. I shopped it around various outlets but have had no responses. So, here it is. It may be a fitting way to begin the end of my erotic writing career. I’m not short of ideas, but I feel as though I’ve said most of what I want to say. One of my favorite works of literature growing up was Goethe’s Faust. What made Goethe’s Faust so interesting was the deal he made with Mephistopheles. He sold his soul for knowledge but with this proviso: Mephistopheles could only keep his soul if Mephistopheles also corrupted him. In the end, Faust kept his soul. No matter Mephistopheles’ temptations, Faust’s love of knowledge was never made complacent. I have much more writing in me, but erotica may be largely over. I have more than a few loose ends but I guess I’m like Faust in that regard. Ideas are my temptations, no sooner tried but I want to explore the next. Expect fewer stories but those that I do write will be better, I hope — or very different at the least. The last few years I’ve been primarily an erotic writer. No more. Now I’m just a visiting friend.

What I Learned by Writing Erotica

Nasty bitch. You’re wet. Rain rolled down my face like tears. I shook my head no and pouted like a little girl. “Oh yes you are,” he growled. He shoved first one finger, then two, then three in and out of me. My chest began to burn with lack of oxygen. He expertly flipped his wrist and unsheathed a switch blade. He pressed it into the place on my neck that bounced with my rushing pulse.”

I removed a few explicit lines from the passage above, but you get the idea.

I write erotica. I’ve been writing erotica for several years now. I share a blog with three other writers, two women and another man. The blog has received almost a million and a half visits and has been voted, depending which list you consult, as among the top 25 erotic blogs on the Internet.

This wasn’t the kind of readership I ever expected.

What prompted me to write this letter is Belle Knox’s post “I’m Finally Revealing My Name and Face As the Duke Porn Star”. I didn’t write erotica while in college, nor while obtaining my Master’s degree. It didn’t occur to me and, if I had, it probably would have been awful stuff. 18 to 20’s is the perfect time for a young woman to be a porn star. Do I really need to explain why? A woman’s body, for all the obvious evolutionary reasons, appeals to men with a beauty that all the world’s gold never will. We can only hope she is as wisely ready. The time for him or her to write erotica, on the other hand, is probably a little later. Erotic writing requires some reflection, introspection and a cunning ability to lie.

The bullying and sniping at Belle Knox is saddening and ignorant, but hardly a surprise. What I’ve learned by writing erotica, above all, is that almost everything I thought when I was 18, as regards women, was wrong; but not as you might suspect. That brings me to the passage I quoted above.

Are you horrified?

I didn’t write it. I haven’t had the nerve to write a passage like that – not yet. It was written by Ximena, a wonderful and incredibly talented woman with whom I’m lucky to write. By the time I was 18, the attempt had been made: I had been thoroughly taught, by the powers that be, that I shouldn’t treat women as sexual objects. Little good that did. From about the age of 12 on, I imagined girls, my own age, and women to be just that – sexual objet d’arts to be pornographically manipulated by the mind’s eye. By 14 I knew that I was a monster.

I used to go into my friend’s room, while he wasn’t around, and sort through his hidden stash of Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler magazines. I preferred Hustler, since Hustler didn’t pretend not to know what goes through the minds of young men. They laid it all out in glossy photos, for which I was immensely grateful. There was one photo that riveted me, however, and I can still see it as though it were yesterday. This was a black & white photo of a woman hanging upside down by her feet, her wrists bound behind her.

There were whips hanging on the wall behind her. I was, without doubt, a monster. The sheer erotic beauty of her body, and helplessness, fixated me. To have a woman like that, willingly no less, and to be able to erotically explore her, freely and uninhibitedly, to whip her, to see how she moves, how her hips move, her eyes, to be able to make her come, and possibly even against her will! I was a monster and I was hooked.

Such images have, at times, been driven firmly underground and alternately outlawed. They encourage the objectification of women, the exploitation of women, misogyny, rape, abuse, and are construed as a gateway to sexual deviancy and harm.

Fast forward some fifteen years. I had read Anne Rice’s Beauty Trilogy. The trilogy was an eye-opener not just because of its content but because it was written by a woman. The content of the erotic photo that had riveted me fifteen years earlier paled next to the eroticism and desires expressed by Anne Rice. To be clear, Rice’s novels are full of bondage and the whip. I tried to find more erotica, but nothing online compared and erotica, at the time, was much more difficult to find at the average book store. I write in many genres. I tried to publish fables and fairy tales, but no one was interested.

One day, I decided to write the kind of erotic story I wanted to read. I can’t tell you what it’s like the first time you write the word “cock” or “pussy”. Try it yourself. I wrote the story and promptly locked it away. I was ashamed. That first erotic story, though, was like the first woman. Once you’ve tasted that kind of pleasure, there’s no going back. I discovered something else, erotic stories flow from me like water. I’m the Hans Christian Andersen of erotica. I think it was Agatha Christie who said that she could turn anything into a murder weapon. Say ‘salt & pepper shaker’ to Agatha Christie and watch out. Me? I’ll turn them into sex toys. Turns out, I was born with a gift for writing erotica; and I never wanted it.

Belle Knox, like Anne Rice, was born with another kind of gift and her sheer physical beauty is only part of it. We don’t choose our gifts and we shouldn’t allow others to dictate to us whether or not we have the right to express them.

And what have I learned by finally using my gift for writing erotica? What I’ve learned is based on hundreds of comments, public and private, mostly by female readers. I learned that while I was imagining tying a woman upside down from her ankles and whipping her, there was another woman imagining that she was being tied and whipped to a humiliating orgasm. I learned that while I fantasized about the anonymous woman in the alleyway, there was a woman imagining the anonymous man, turning her toward the wall, lifting her skirt and spreading her ankles. I learned that women are monsters too. I learned that our sexual fantasies, just like our bodies, are beautifully and mysteriously reciprocal. Men aren’t monsters. Women aren’t hapless. In short, I learned that the erotic desires of women were often, and startlingly, the mirror image of my own.

I learned that what attracts us to each other, as far as science currently knows, is unique to the human animal. Since a female doesn’t display her readiness to copulate, nature must ensure that we copulate as often as possible. How does nature do that? By evolving the erotic imagination. We can imagine the past and future. We remember the sex we’ve had and we imagine the sex we want – the ability that is at the root of all erotica. It’s possible that our ability to imagine the past and future arose as a necessary element of erotic desire (the need to perpetuate our species). As every other carnivore that has ever existed has amply demonstrated, and over hundreds of millions of years, we emphatically do not need a sense of past and future to be successful hunters.

Erotic desire is at the root of all art. The erotic imagination requires that we appreciate beauty. It is our capacity to recognize each others physical beauty (or what evolution has taught us to recognize as beautiful) that attracts us to each other. The erotic imagination requires that we understand metaphor and symbol. The very first works of art are pornographic statuettes that become ever more phallic and symbolic. Erotic desire may be at the root of all spirituality and religion – much to the horror, I suppose, of a certain few. How nubile and tempting are all those medieval and Renaissance angels – partially clad, youthful, and in their sexual prime. God clearly prefers his angels in the 14 to 20 year range. It’s possible that the human mind, in all its intellectual glory, is almost entirely a product of nature’s elaborate procreative scheming. And the very act of denying the same, of excluding women from both the pews and iconography, is an assertion of the same by negation.

I’ve learned that erotica is a kind of fairy tale for the sexually awakened mind. Just as there are those who read religious texts literally, seemingly incapable of perceiving or comprehending metaphor or analogy, there are those who read erotica literally. Unlike any other literature, they require that erotica be “true to reality”. Amazon.com recently attempted to ban all forms of erotica that involved procreation between human and non-human species. In other words, sex between Bella Swan and Jacob Black, the male teenager, is okay. Sex between Bella Swan and Jacob Black, the werewolf, is to be banned. (As if there really are such things as werewolves and we shouldn’t want to encourage it). Apparently, it is okay to be impregnated by a dead/undead (presumably cold as a fish) vampire but emphatically not okay to be doggied by a werewolf. But I know from personal conversation that many more women are “Little Red Riding Hoods” very much interested in getting lost in the deep, dark woods.

All erotica is best read as a metaphorical expression of erotic desire. We don’t ban talking wolves and geese from our children’s stories because we understand them to be metaphors. It’s equally silly to ban animals and absurd settings from adult erotic literature. Does Amazon or Paypal intend to ban Greek mythology (and Yeats) because Zeus preferred to rape Leda as a Swan?

We are not monsters. I’ve never tied up a woman by her ankles and I’ve never whipped a woman. I’m not sure I would enjoy it (though some men and women would). But the fantasy powerfully appeals to me because of what it symbolizes – dominance and submission, the embodiment of a certain kind of masculinity and femininity, of pain and pleasure and the symbolism expressed by his self-control and her willing lack of control. But who really dominates who? The men and women who act out these fantasies, like Belle Knox, are also engaged in a symbolic eroticism. They do these things because they enjoy it. Maybe they’ll have regrets, but that’s no different than anything we do.

I learned that erotic preferences are like politics or religion. There are those who think that all liberals are mentally ill and others who think that all Muslims are terrorists. Likewise, there are those who consider their own sexual proclivities to be the norm and that all other sexual preferences are a kind of deviance to be feared or suppressed.

I learned that there really isn’t a norm or, if there is, it isn’t what some or many might think.

Pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry and by that standard alone, the pleasure we take in watching others have sex is the norm. Why shouldn’t it be? When Thomas Bagley outed Knox, he recognized her because he was watching and paying for, at $200 a week, hardcore porn. For most of our evolution we probably watched each other having sex. Why not enjoy it? If the goal of evolution is self-perpetuation, then why wouldn’t nature take advantage of the opportunity? Why impregnate just one female when nature can knock them all up? What fun. What is arguably and demonstrably abnormal, if that label must be thrown around, is the dislike of pornography or erotica. In truth, I would rather dispense with a word like abnormal or deviant. Human beings have varied sexual preferences and it is time they were recognized as just that – fairy tales for the erotically minded. The desire to tie or to be tied can be healthy and good. Let each enjoy and celebrate their own unique sense of eroticism. A young woman like Belle Knox, one hopes, shares in the enjoyment of her viewers. She also monetarily benefits; and why not?

But, one might argue, hasn’t permitting certain behaviors produced a history of sexual abuse, child sexual abuse, cover ups, misogyny and sexual exploitation? Yes. Women have suffered horribly at the whims of men: exploited, tortured, murdered, marginalized and treated like little more than sex objects to be conversely worshiped and vilified. However, and despite all this, no one is arguing that we abolish the Catholic Church, or any number of other religions, and this despite the many men who enabled and covered up child sexual abuse. The history of Catholicism is replete with the abuse, torture and the sexualized murder of many thousands of women.

There are kinds of sexual deviancy that are harmful and horrible, but to think that banning erotica and pornography will solve such criminality is simplistic. Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, recently penned a column in Decision Magazine praising Putin’s brutal stance toward the LGBTQ community. Has anyone in the pornography industry recently penned a column praising and calling for the brutal suppression of human beings because of their sexual preferences? Who is the real monster? It’s true that women in pornography can be exploited and that their working conditions ould stand improvement, but there isn’t an industry for which the same couldn’t be said. To lay these sins at the feet of pornography is selective and hypocritical. fall-fog-girl-umbrella-Favim.com-164817The oppression between the nexus of politics and religion, if that’s the route to be taken, is far more damning than that against erotica or pornography. Patrick Rock, one of David Cameron’s closest aides, was recently arrested on charges related to child pornography. And what did Patrick Rock do? He was the government official most determined to block and limit the public’s access to the pleasure of watching others have sex.

What I’ve learned is that for the vast majority, the pleasure in reading about sex, in all its metaphorical and symbolic guises, and the pleasure taken in viewing others having sex, is good, healthy and normal. What is abnormal is the attempt by some to marginalize the sexuality of others, whether by government officials, by religious officials, or even by feminists. What is abnormal is the kind of bullying that Belle Knox has been subjected to – and much of it because she is a woman. If the labels must be used, then this is what is deviant, abnormal and unhealthy. To condemn the choices of Belle Knox is to condemn the sexual preferences of tens of millions of men and women. Specifically, it suggests that women shouldn’t want or shouldn’t enjoy the kind of eroticism expressed by Belle Knox, especially educated women. Contempt for Knox is no less a phobia than homophobia. If there’s one thing I’ve learned by writing erotica, it’s that women are just as monstrous as men, that it’s a wonderful thing, and that celebrating our complimentary and reciprocal sense of eroticism is good and healthy.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that the best erotica, like all that’s best in art, music, and literature, proceeds from and is an expression of Love.


Will Crimson: March 21, 2014

Rejoice in Love

Latest Comments

  1. Molly says:

    I am trying to think of something to say here that is not just me cheering but so far that is all I have. This is such a brilliantly crafted piece. You have highlights the hypocrisy with regards to both erotic writing and other depictions of sex(uality) that is so often used by people who would like to silence this art form. Also, I think your own personal experiences of discovering the truth of female desire is very common but sadly many men fail to get to the discovery part because society does such a good job of obstructing them in this.

    Thank you for writing this


    Ps… Sadden by the news that you are ‘giving up’ writing erotica and purely for selfish reasons I hope you continue to be a regular guest at the erotic writing table of filth ;)

  2. Wordwytch says:

    Beautifully stated.

  3. Monocle says:

    Will, this is a wonderful piece of truth. It resonates quite strongly with me (surprise, as our evolution as writers have shared more than one parallel). My own paucity of new writing in the last year speaks at the very least of lulls or cycles in what needs or wants to be written, and I found myself nodding throughout the reading your words above.

    Wherever this goes, however it continues to evolve it’s been and continues to be a great privilege to share this space with you.

  4. paul1510 says:

    an excellent and eminently sensible piece of writing.
    Hopefully we all evolve, it seems to me this is what is happening to you.
    *The mealy mouthed utterances of those in so called authority over us, I find unctuous and sickening, after all they are no more or indeed no less human that the rest of us, with our feet in the mud and our heads in the stars.*
    Therefore whatever you write I will endeavour to read.

    * Whether this applies to politicians, is a matter of conjecture. P

  5. joebondibeach says:

    Will —

    Erotic imagination is the salvation of the human race? Never thought of it that way, only as an art, like painting or music or writing or sculpture that tells us something about ourselves and our world and about Life and Love (and peanut butter), but I like the idea.

    I zeroed in on, “One day, I decided to write the kind of erotic story I wanted to read. I can’t tell you what it’s like the first time you write the word ‘cock’ or ‘pussy’.” I would have liked to hear how your fountain of erotica might have changed as you wrote more and more of it.

    I’m sorry to hear you’re leaving the field, but hope you’ll leave what you’ve written available to us, and wish you all the best.

    ~ JBB

    • willcrimson says:

      Thank you, Joe. I’m not leaving the field. I’ll put it this way: I’m pleased with what I’ve written. I think I’ve written a body of erotica that’s failed in some predictable and inevitable ways, but is mostly something to be proud of. As I was writing my latest stories, I found I was losing interest in one after another. They began to feel complacent.

      Now here’s the strange thing: What pushed me over the edge was watching Frozen.

      Frozen is hardly a masterpiece. It just reminded me that I first started out loving poetry and children’s literature — fables and fairy tales. I’ve been feeling the urge to return to that (sort of) joyful and spiritual innocence. It’s hard to explain. I mean, look at what I’ve spent that last ten years writing. Me? Of all writers? But it’s always been about writing — not the genre so much.

      If an erotic idea really grabs me, in the old way, then I’ll write it. :-)

  6. joebondibeach says:

    “Complacent.” I wish my NaNoWriMo effort this last round rose to that level. I’m sitting with 55,000 words of slop that I can’t seem to turn into something even mildly interesting.

    I’ll look foward to seeing your future efforts, whatever they may be.

    • willcrimson says:

      //I’m sitting with 55,000 words of slop that I can’t seem to turn into something even mildly interesting.//

      Right. I know that feeling. What’s a good analogy? It’s like the morning after the booze has worn off. There’s somebody in bed with you, naked, and you’re both asking yourselves: What the hell was I thinking?

    • joebondibeach says:

      “There’s somebody in bed with you, naked, and you’re both asking yourselves: What the hell was I thinking?”

      Now, *there’s* a story prompt, even if it’s been done before!

  7. Chintz Curtain (@ChintzCurtain) says:

    There are so many poignant and insightful points made in this post that I’m not sure I can craft a comment that does it justice. I will say that the following quote, to my mind, perfectly encapsulates what erotica is and should be: ‘a kind of fairy tale for the sexually awakened mind’. I want to be able to fall down the rabbit hole and explore my fantasies through the written word without censorship or judgement. Surely I am entitled to do that, despite what David Cameron says? I wish you the very best of luck, Will. I am sure you will be successful in whichever genre you choose to write in.

    • willcrimson says:

      Thank you Chintz. Don’t know if you’re familiar with Tomi Ungerer. He was a very successful children’s illustrator. Then, along the way, it was discovered that he’d drawn, and was drawing, erotic images as a professional artist. He was (and is being) essentially blackballed. I doubt there’s any future for me writing fables or fairy tales (for example), but that’s not going to stop me. I’m not going to lie to any publisher should they ever want to publish something of mine. :-) At this point, I write purely for my own enjoyment.

    • willcrimson says:

      //Surely I am entitled to do that…//

      I have to say that, for all America’s faults, freedom of speech is our most noble and admirable ideal. There are many countries where I could not possibly have written what I have — and that includes some European countries.

  8. vanillamom says:

    You, dear friend, are brilliant (and I think ofttimes, tormented). It’s a normal progression, I think, to move through genres and the ups and downs and highs and lows of creation. One cannot birth a story every day. It’s hard, hard work. I feel I’m a dabbler, yet every time I sit and write, I think about various pieces of advice you’ve given me. Sometimes the effects we have over one another go unmentioned…as we work in our silent bubbles…so I thought you should know that.

    As to your response to the Belle Knox events–what you say here is deep and meaningful and like others, I was nodding along with your key points. It is true…this –need, for want of a better word–exists within us as sexual beings. To deny it, to vilify our fleshy needs, is anathema. You speak so eloquently of the sexual urges of the male, and deeply understand the female perspective too. (I’ve never read anyone as “well rounded” in the female erotic psyche as you).

    I add my voice to the chorus saying ‘don’t go away forever’….this part of the world would be oh so lonely without your voice in it.


    • willcrimson says:

      Oh Nilla, you sweetie! I am *not* going away forever. :-) I am going to continue checking in everyday and if there’s a story I can’t resist, I’ll write it. It feels good though. I did often write just because I felt as though I owed it to my readers. I wanted to maintain that connection. Now I feel strangely liberated. Maybe this is how Bill Watterson and Gary Larson felt when they wrote their last cartoon? I always questioned how they could quit, but now I get it.

  9. ximenawrites says:


    I didn’t know. I have been so completely concentrated on not trying to implode with the boredom of the day-to-day that I hadn’t checked in.

    In any case, it seems we are all going through changes. Although I never stop thinking of the choicest scenarios, it has been a while since I’ve had the wherewithal to sit down and type. I spend my days in a place whose fluorescent lights seem to expose all the ugly bumps and ripples of my thoughts, and grown discouraged.

    You are the reason why I was courageous enough to share my thoughts with the world at large. You were honest and kind, but never afraid to give the most constructive of criticism. Damn it, I’m a better writer because of you. I love this little corner of the universe, and understand the desire to share only what feels genuine to those who share it with us.

    Frankly, I can’t wait to see what you’ve got up your sleeve, and wish you happiness and success in the new direction your creativity is taking.


  10. vanillamom says:

    I get that “I need to write for my readers” piece. Been there, for sure. It took Master saying “stop” to cure me….I’d be up writing until 1130 or midnight every night…it got crazy for a while there. Of late, not so much. These days, I let the stories direct me more. If that makes sense.
    I notice your lovers still have their snow caps on. That’s kinda sad, isn’t it? Totally necessary, given that we’re having “a lovely winter this spring…”…I can’t wait to see them in Easter bonnets…should the weather *ever* improve. :D

    ps…i’m glad, very glad, you’re not packing your bags and leaving us bereft. I’d miss Tent…er…you, far too much.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I am intrigued with the back stories of erotic writers. Am fairly new at this. It all began with my online lover (writing erotica)…we were in love with each other’s lusts, it grew fast, our sexual passions exploding from tender intercourse under a willow tree to bondage….I wanted and needed it to go there…to yearned for an outlet to re-create my real life experiences harmlessly…to do things I never would have done in the real world. Of course I had many experiences as a young girl, mostly forced sex that left me breathless. I needed to write about it. I found the perfect partner. For three years we were down for the count from morning till night, we practically lived together, although a thousand miles apart. Alas, he left me for a flesh and blood gal…and now I have found your site…what a relief to know there is a place I can continue to express myself.

    • willcrimson says:

      My back story is one lie after another — starting with my birth in a caboose… :-) There is absolutely no reason, as far as I can tell, for why I write erotica. I’m like an accidental tourist. I am — completely — unqualified.

    • vanillamom says:

      Pshaw….. all evidence to the contrary, dear friend. Unqualified? I beg. …. to disagree.


  12. stephaniesubmits says:

    Thank you so much for writing & sharing this. I especially appreciate this truth: “I learned that women are monsters too.” I am just recently beginning to accept my own ‘monster.’ There’s no way I would’ve written words like cock/cunt 10 years ago. Nevermind that I was sexually active – it was exploring that corner of my mind that made me nervous, and not the act itself. Erotica, done well, is complex & full of nuance. Though handy for the occasional solo session (pun intended…haha) porn has got nothing on quality erotica. Lookin’ at you, Will, Raz, & Ximena :) I’ve found a new world, one that’s fearless, unapologetic, and hot. It started with RG’s site, then this blog – but my own wandering continues, as I find the bravery to name my own erotic world.

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