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Writing My First Erotic Novel

typewriter + roses

So, I spent the last month writing an erotic novel (under a pen name, and it isn’t technically novel length; at 30,000 words, it’s more a long story or novella). I wanted to see what it would be like — I work as a writer, but I’d never before written explicitly about sex, or tried to build a story driven by sexual tension. Also, I’d read Emily Nagoski’s post about her own (successful) experiment with writing erotica, and I was inspired.

Now that the manuscript is finished and sent off to a publisher, I wonder whether I will try to write another, longer one. I have some ideas for a plot, and I learned some thing that I think will make the next one easier, but I’m not sure I will do it. Here are my reasons for and against writing another one:

Why I won’t write another erotic novel(la):

  1. For me, writing about sex is not nearly as enjoyable as thinking about sex, reading about sex, or having sex. Writing is work; at least for me, mixing work with sex makes it less fun and even, at times, dreadful.
  2. It takes time. Time I could spend writing something else, reading, meditating, accomplishing one of the many projects I’ve set for myself, seeing friends, walking around outside.
  3. It takes energy — see above.
  4. It might not make any money, and I’m not sure I enjoy writing erotica enough to do it as a labor of love. If I can’t sell this one, I probably won’t write another one.
  5. The pen name thing is kind of weird. I feel conflicted about writing something I wouldn’t want my friends or family to know I’ve written. It’s fun to do something that I think the moral authorities would find appalling, but only if they don’t find out it’s me who did it. I feel like a kid sneaking around in a dark house.
  6. Does the world really need another erotic novel? Avid readers of the genre might say yes, the world needs erotica as fast as we can crank it out, but I’m not so sure.

Why I will (maybe) write another erotic novel(la):

  1. Trying to write a plot that gets its energy from sexual tension, I got to (had to) see what I find really hot: over and over again I found myself writing different versions of the same scene. When I tried to write scenes that were rougher, or just other, than what I like, I felt incredibly uncomfortable. At one point I felt that I was torturing my main character, and that her pain was real. Of course, it was myself I was torturing, and my own pain I was feeling. Seeing how I reacted to different flavors of sex became really interesting.
  2. The next one could be about vampires, or werewolves, or a kinky doctor-patient fetish — not ideas I find particularly arousing, but that alone might make writing about them interesting. And it’s fun to think of wild ideas for stories and then find a way to realize them that’s satisfying for a reader. It’s like bringing something new into the world.
  3. There’s space for a lot of humor in writing erotica — it doesn’t all have to feign steamy romance. For me, humor makes just about anything more enjoyable.
  4. I probably learned things — about how to write erotica, and about myself — while writing the first one that will make the second one better and maybe more enjoyable to write.
  5. It’s fun, and I learn things about myself, by trying out different identities / pen names and venturing beyond the boundaries I feel constrained by in my everyday life.
  6. There were times when I genuinely found the writing fun, and even hot — I found that I could be aroused even as I was trying to write myself out of a corner, or figure out what would happen next. During these times, I felt powerfully in control of my own arousal in a way I don’t when I’m reading about or watching sex. I felt sexy. It was almost as good as having sex!