Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Inspiration


I’m very excited to be blogging for ERWA. Back in the early days when I was just getting started as an erotic author, ERWA was not only the go-to site for all of the latest calls for submissions, but it was also a place to go for inspiration and encouragement. Now, here I am writing what I hope will be inspiring and encouraging.

Today, I want to talk about inspiration, because like most writers, I think about it all the time, and crave it constantly. I want to talk about one of my favourite stories from Greek Mythology, one that made me think more about inspiration than any other, and that’s the story of Daphne and Apollo. In a nutshell, Apollo, the God of Light, falls in love with Daphne, a woodland nymph. But Daphne flees his advances, and when it becomes clear to her that she can’t escape him, she calls upon her father to help her, and he turns her into a laurel tree to save her from Apollo’s lust.

Perhaps it’s my naughty nature, but I’ve always thought to myself, if I were Daphne, I would not only have let Apollo catch me, I would have pursued him. After all, he is the god of poetry and music and art and wisdom and all those wonderful things that we writers long for. A good fuck for a little wisdom and inspiration - a fair exchange, I’d say. For some reason, I could never quite get my own private version of that myth out of my head, nor the idea of that masterful exchange of power, becoming the lover of the divine in exchange for divine gifts.

That got me to thinking about other lovers of the gods, lovers who hadn’t been turned into trees before they were ravished by the divine. Most of them got knocked up, true enough, and since the Greeks were pretty misogynistic, that was the end of the story for the women-folk. In short, they were pretty, some god took a fancy to them, knocked them up, and there ya go! But, the result of their ‘inspiration’ was a child that was more than human, a child with special powers, a child that was a savior or a hero. Of course, Psyche didn’t get knocked up. She just married a god, bested her mother-in-law at her own game and was made a goddess for her troubles.

But it’s when I started thinking beyond the misogyny of the day to the archetypal message of the story that it hit me. Daphne is really a tragic character because at the end of the tale, she misses out on divine inspiration. She becomes rooted in one place, unmoving, never able to do more than passively endure the changes of the world around her. All she’s left with is her chastity. But Danae, when seduced by Zeus, gives birth to Perseus, and Leda, also seduced by Zeus in the form of a swan, gives birth to Helen of Troy and Pollux.  And the stories of the children they give birth to are larger than life, exciting adventures, stories that cause the rise and fall of empires, and all are the result of divine and human coupling. Granted there was often no choice for the women, or the men, the gods took a fancy to. Who could really argue with a god? But the result was no less amazing.

Inspiration is like that, I think. We can bargain for it. All of us writers have our techniques, the things that we do, the rituals that work to get us to the story we need to tell. I walk and grow vegetables. Some people listen to music, some people cook. I love hearing the stories of how people get their inspiration, how people open themselves to the Muse in an effort to get knocked up creatively. But I also love those times when inspiration broadsides us, comes in a form we least expect and ravishes us until we’re full and overflowing and we give birth to a story that we didn’t see coming, a story that has a life all its own far more than we could have given it if we’d simply sat down and planned it out.

Even leaving the Garden of Eden is a story about seeking inspiration, about seeking to discover more, about becoming more than ourselves, and about the price we pay when we’re willing to take that risk – powerful stuff, all of it. And because the creative force will not be controlled, it often doesn’t work out the way we planned it. It’s often expansive, explosive and dangerous. It’s hardly any wonder that Daphne is seen as virtuous, and chastity is the surface message for the rule of the properly behaved. But the subversive message, now that’s another matter. The subversive message launched a thousand ships, killed the sea monster, grabbed divinity and claimed it in mortal hands, and wow! Writers do that every day, every time we yield to inspiration, or grab it by the hem of its toga and refuse to let go until it ravishes us, we re-create that archetypal story all over again.

10 comments:

  1. But if you wrote of Leda now it would never get past the publishing censors. Mind you, I always wondered why she was willing to have sex with a swan.

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  2. Hello, Kathy!

    Welcome to the ERWA blog!

    I've always loved the myth of Persephone and Hades. She's a creature of the sun who is seduced and carried away to the land of darkness. That's a potent metaphor for erotica authors, since we definitely explore the darker corners of our souls sometimes.

    Then there's the fact that she's given permission to leave her new spouse and return to her mother and the earth's surface. However, she violates the terms of Hades' agreement by eating some pomegranate seeds. Undone by her own appetite!

    One of these days I'm going to turn this myth into an erotic tale - in which Persephone's irresistible lust for her dark mate is what binds her to hell for half the year.

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  3. Good point, Rachel. I know certain types of ducks are known for being well endowed, but for the most part male birds are sadly lacking in anything that might interest a human female, never mind the censors;)

    Lisabet, I've also thought about doing some sort of modern version of Persephone and Hades. It's such a stunning story, psychologically. Bernini's sculpture of Hades and Persephone is also in the Villa Borghese with the Daphne and Apollo, BTW. Such a stunning work. Truly inspirational.

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  4. Not sure what one has to do to become a goddess (or attract a god?? - I like thinking about that one though) but I'll raise a rather full glass to Bacchus anyway! Cheers. An interresting, thought-provoking post.

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  5. Thanks Kristal,

    It certainly wasn't an easy task for Psyche. Mother-in-law problems and all. But a fun story. Raising my own full glass to Bacchus! Cheers!

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  6. Being a total nerd about the ancient world, I love the analogies, KD!

    Inspiration, and seeking to understand its source, has been near and dear to my heart recently. Big life changes have kept my mind too busy to write much, but now things are settling down.

    I'm finding that my inspiration is still with me, but in a way, has changed form, perhaps like Zeus.

    I'm still finding what all that means, but I'm feeling like this is just another example of learning to enjoy the journey rather than focusing on the destination.

    Welcome to the ERWA blog. Great first post!

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  7. Thanks Craig,

    It's a pleasure to be here. I think inspiration is something that intrigues all creative folks because it's so nebulous, yet the end result is so concrete. Not hard to see why it can be seen as the gift from the gods. I think we're more aware of that than ever when we're going through major life changes. Sometimes they end up being the inspiration, though seldom as glam as being visited by Zeus or Aphrodite.

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  8. Wonderful to have you here, KD!

    And what a great first post! It did give me all sorts of inspiration, although my mind did stray a little east of the fertile crescent and ended up at Siddartha and autofelatio.

    When it comes to Leda and the Swan, I must admit, I always felt it was a god's privilege to sport whatever genitals he required. So I like to think... wings of a swan, dick of a god.

    Yum.

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  9. Hello Lisabet,

    Okay, that is way too hot. I wanna read it. Please write it.

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  10. Thanks, RG,

    It's such a pleasure to be here. And you're right, there's so much fabulous inspiration in all of mythology. I'm quite partial to the ancient Egyptian myth of the world being masturbated into existenc. Talk about a creative force! But then autofelatio would definitely inspire me. Am I just easily inspired by nasty, sexy gods??? Probably. But oh the fun!

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