brni (brni) wrote,

Bad Sex: Part 2

This is part 2 of a 5-part series on writing sex. If you haven't read part 1 yet, you might want to consider it.

Part 1
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Let's talk about shame.

There is a stigma to sex, and to writing sex. This is the logic behind slut-shaming, behind the confused contradiction that penalizes girls for having sex at a young age at the same time that it commends boys for the same thing. This is the logic that leads writers to take pseudonyms when writing explicitly sexual stories.

It's the same logic that leads people who write in a number of genres to isolate and dismiss their erotic writings. Because that's not serious literature. That's smut.

There are writers, and there are erotica writers. And when the writer and erotica writer are the same person? Well, we create pseudonyms to create distance and anonymity. We don't want that nasty sex stuff contaminating our real work.

That was something I considered seriously when I received my first acceptance letter for an erotic work. I created a pseudonym, one that was clearly fictitious, and came with his own history and persona: one Sir Reginald F. Grump XXIII, a writer of erotic fictions possessed of a peculiar fascination with spinnerettes. The myth of Sir Reginald has grown over time - he is the spiritual advisor of The Journal of Unlikely Entomology, for example, and a recurring character in Kudzu: A Novel, and in "Kudzu: A Prologue," in Galactic Creatures.

But in the end I decided to own my pr0n. All my erotic work has been published in my own name. (I actually had a similar internal debate about whether to use my own decidedly unusual-but-not-necessarily-in-a-good-way name when I was first published.)

Still, I find myself speaking hesitantly in mixed company about my role in producing Alice-in-Wonderland smut, while being quite comfortable discussing my stories about faeries.

So, (assuming that if you've read this far, you're at least considering taking my advice and writing an explicitly erotic story or three) whether you plan on ever showing your smut to anyone else or not, I'd suggest looking at the story that results from your efforts and thinking very seriously about what name you would publish it under. Will it be your own? Will it be a pseudonym? Would you ever let leak the link between your non-erotica-writing persona and your smutmonger persona?

There is no "right answer" to those questions. There's only the answers that are right for you.

And the value in those answers isn't the answers itself, but what you learn about yourself in the process of answering the questions.

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