Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Very Special Confession

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006YGDE6G/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

A bow to the fantastic WriteSex site, where this column first appeared

My name is Chris – though my pseudonym is usually M.Christian – and I have a confession to make.

I’ve written – and write – a…what’s the technical term? Oh, yeah: shitload of erotica. Some 400 published stories, 12 or so collections, 7 novels. I’ve also edited around 25 anthologies. I even have the honor of being an Associate Publisher for Renaissance eBooks, whose Sizzler Editions erotica imprint has some 1,300 titles out there.

I’ve written sexually explicit gay stories, lesbian stories, trans stories, bisexual stories, BDSM stories, tales exploring just about every kind of fetish, you name it and I can all but guarantee that I’ve written about it. I like to joke that a friend of mine challenged me to write a story to a ridiculously particular specification: a queer vampire sport tale. My answer? “Casey, The Bat.” Which I actually did write…though I dropped the vampire part of it.

Don’t worry; I’m getting to the point. I can write just about anything for anyone – but here comes the confession:

I’ve never, ever written about what actually turns me – what turns Chris – on.

This kind of makes me a rather rare beast in the world of professional smut writing. In fact it’s pretty common for other erotica writers to – to be polite about it – look down their noses at the fact that I write about anything other than my own actual or desired sexual peccadilloes. Some have even been outright rude about it: claiming that I’m somehow insulting to their interests and/or orientations and shouldn’t write anything except what I am and what I like.

To be honest, in moments of self-doubt I have thought the very same thing. Am I profiting off the sexuality of other people? Am I a parasite, too cowardly to put my own kinks and passions out into the world? Am I short-changing myself as a writer by refusing to put myself out there?

For the record, I’m a hetero guy who – mostly – likes sexually dominant women. I also find my head turned pretty quickly when a large, curvy woman walks by. That said, I’ve had wonderful times with women of every size, shape, ethnicity, and interest.

So why do I find it so hard to say all that in my writing? The question has been bugging me for a while, so I put on my thinking cap. Part of the answer, I’ve come to understand, relates directly to chronic depression: it’s much less of an emotional gamble to hide behind a curtain of story than to risk getting my own intimate desires and passions stomped flat by a critical review or other negative reaction from readers. I can handle critical reviews of a story – that’s par for the course in professional writing – but it’s a good question as to whether I could handle critical reviews of my life.

But then I had an eye-opening revelation. As I said, I’ve written – and write – stories about all kinds of interests, inclinations, passions, orientations, genders, ethnicities, ages, cultures…okay, I won’t belabor it. But the point is that I’ve also been extremely blessed to have sold everything I’ve ever written. Not only that, but I’ve had beautiful compliments from people saying my work has touched them and that they never, ever, would have realized that the desires of the story’s narrator and those of the writer weren’t one and the same.

Which, in a nice little turn-around, leads me to say that my name is Chris – though my pseudonym is usually M.Christian – and I have yet another confession to make.

Yes, I don’t get sexually excited when I write. Yes, I have never written about what turns me on. Yes, I always write under a name that’s not my legal one.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel when I write. Far from it: absolutely, I have no idea what actual gay sex is like for the participants; positively, I have not an inkling of what many fetishes feel like inside the minds of those who have them; definitely, I have no clue what it’s like to have sex as a woman…

I do, however, know what sex is like. The mechanics, yeah, but more importantly I work very hard to understand the emotions of sex and sexuality through the raw examination of my own life: the heart-racing nerves, the whispering self-doubts, the pulse-pounding tremors of hope, the bittersweetness of it, the bliss, the sorrows and the warmth of it, the dreams and memories…

I’m working on a story right now, part of a new collection. It’s erotic – duh – but it’s also about hope, redemption, change, and acceptance. I have no experience with the kind of physical sex that takes place in this story but every time I close its file after a few hours of work, tears are burning my cheeks. In part, this emotional investment is about trying to recapture the transcendent joy I’ve felt reading the work of writers I admire.

When I read manuscripts as an anthology editor, or as an Associate Publisher, a common mistake I see in them is a dedication to technical accuracy favored over emotion. These stories are correct down to the smallest detail – either because they were written from life or from an exactingly fact-checked sexual imagination – but at the end, I as the reader feel…nothing.

I’m not perfect – far from it – but while I may lack direct experience in a lot of what I write, I do work very, very hard to put real human depth into whatever I do. I may not take the superficial risk of putting the mechanics of my sexuality into stories and books but I take a greater chance by using the full range of my emotional life in everything I create.

I freely admit that I don’t write about my own sexual interests and experiences. That may – in some people’s minds – disqualify me from being what they consider an “honest” erotica writer, but after much work and introspection I contest that while I may keep my sex life to myself, I work very hard to bring as much of my own, deeply personal, self to bear upon each story as I can.

They say that confession is good for the soul. But I humbly wish to add to that while confession is fine and dandy, trying to touch people – beyond their sex organs – is ever better…for your own soul as well as the souls of anyone reading your work.

7 comments:

  1. Hello, Chris,

    Emotion is more important than sensation, in my view. And you can't tell me the emotions in your stories are not genuine.

    I find it a bit funny that you feel the need to apologize for not writing about your personal sexual preferences. Who ever said that's required in order to write erotica? At the same time, knowing you personally and having read a lot of your work, I think you do reveal more of yourself and your sexuality that you think in your tales. (We all do.) It might not be conscious - it might not turn you on - but it's still there. (Don't be embarrassed!)

    Thanks for a great post!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Chris,

    your post is very interesting and it touchs many aspects on writing and writer.

    I don't want comment them here, but I have a question for you.

    What is easier (or harder) for you... to talk (and to write) about your sexual performances or about your feeling and depths of your soul?

    It seems it's easier for you to write about your feeling and depths things....

    Then, what is deeper... the body or the soul?

    Thanks.

    Lady Flo


    ReplyDelete
  3. Chris? Please stay M. Christian or you have to change the powerful portrait picture you use. It is not a picture of a "Chris".

    First point of my response, isn't it great to live behind a pen name?

    I think it's fair to say with the amount of "shit" you have published that something is working right. Don't be Tiger Woods and change your swing-it will f' you up.

    As for me I have to be in love with my female characters or I can't begin to write about them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'd love to read you "as reality" -- it just seems hard, but you're so skilled as it is -- why not?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Perhaps one measure of a writer is how well he/she can imagine and convincingly describe things outside their own experience. After all, the imagination may be a good writer's greatest asset.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dear Chris,

    Every single story of yours I've read has moved me to tears. I've learned so much from them.

    It is nice to hear from you here.

    Sincerely,
    "Olivia"

    ReplyDelete
  7. As you have always been Chris to me (and it has been FAR too long since we’ve chatted), there isn’t a lot here that surprises me, except your continued humility when it comes to your exceptional storytelling abilities.
    I remember a conversation we had way back in the bad ol’ Blue Food days, in which we discussed this very topic. Was it necessary for Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke to travel into space to write convincingly about it? Has Stephen King or Clive Barker experienced every exquisite moment of suffering he has written about? Had Bram Stoker stumbled into the world of real vampires? Had Mary Shelley witnessed the resuscitation of dead flesh? Had Jules Verne traveled to the moon, deep under the sea or to a prehistoric lost world? The list goes on and on. And the answer is always the same. One doesn’t have to experience, first hand, what one is writing about, so long as the description of the act is convincing to the reader.
    You do what you do exceedingly well. Though you may never have experienced a blowjob from an all-too willing male fan, your imagination has far surpassed the mechanics of the situation and lifted the intimate act into the realm of fantastical fulfillment. That, my friend, is what being a writer, of any genre, is all about. And you, sir, in this genre, are still a master of the form.
    Remember, people are selfish by nature. Nobody really gives a shit what our personal life is like, unless we’re Lindsey Lohan, in which case the shabbier the better. What readers want is to be transported from their mundane existences into the realm of possibility. How they get there is all that is important. The life story of the conductor driving the engine propelling them is unimportant, so long as the trip is fulfilling.
    I would ride your bullet train just about anywhere, M. Christian. Not because I think you’re the best robot, lesbian dominatrix I have ever met, but because you are the most convincing in the moment. And that, to me, is what it’s all about. So, carry on with your vanilla lifestyle to your heart’s content, but please don’t spare me the extraordinary spice of your imagination just because you haven’t tasted it yourself. As one who has, I am enthralled.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.