Sunday, September 21, 2014
“Ten Foolproof Tricks to Make Your Sex Sizzle”
“Sexual Secrets of the Porn Stars”
“A Call Girl’s Guide to Giving Great Head”
“Mind-Blowing Pleasure: The Manual”
I made these headlines up, for fear of legal action, but I suspect you’ve seen similar ones, on the covers of supermarket tabloids and women’s magazines. I wouldn’t be surprised if this sort of article is responsible for selling plenty of publications, too. As I wrote in a previous post, evidence suggests many people are dissatisfied with their sex lives. They’re actively seeking ways to improve that situation – to experience more sex as well as more enjoyable sex. Articles that claim to teach surefire methods for achieving this goal are bound to be popular.
Self-help books focusing on sexual techniques are perennial best sellers. The Books for Sensual Readers page on the ERWA website has a whole section devoted to titles like The Ultimate Guide to Cunnilingus (Violet Blue, Cleis), The Anal Sex Position Guide (Tristan Taormino, Quiver) and Tickle His Pickle: Your Hands-On Guide to Penis Pleasing (Sadie Allison, Tickle Kitty Press). There are lots of sex-education videos available, too.
I’m sure that such books and films provide valuable, in-depth information to a public sometimes woefully uninformed about sexual matters. In addition, they can be a mechanism for getting couples to start talking about subjects they hadn’t dared mention in the past. Still, I worry about the implication that great sex depends primarily on specific skills – that to be “good in bed” (everyone’s fantasy), all one has to do is acquire a set of techniques that will automatically render one’s partner helpless with lust.
A severe lack of skill can sometimes spoil a sexual encounter. The converse, however, is not true, at least not in my experience. Sexual skill doesn’t automatically translate into fabulous fucking. I can be in bed with the most accomplished lover in the world (from a technical perspective) and feel next to nothing.
Your mileage may vary, of course; I know that I’m far less oriented toward physical sensation than many women. Those very differences, though, reveal the fallacy hidden at the heart of the headlines above. Sure, you can learn a bunch of neat sexual tricks, but no technique will work on everyone. Individual preferences and responses vary tremendously. That’s part of why writing erotica is so much fun.
For me, at least, great sex requires more than just clever manipulation of body parts. The intensity of a sexual experience depends on its emotional content. That includes not only love but also fear, anger, compassion, envy, guilt, playfulness, comfort, a sense of transgression, a craving for power, a need to feel powerless. The palette of desire supports unlimited hues.
I believe that passion, not skill, is what produces great sex. And that’s what characterizes great erotica as well.
You can attend workshops and take courses. You can fill your shelves with books on craft. You can deconstruct your favorite authors, trying to figure out how they accomplish their wonders. You might pore over “how-to” blogs and spend hours working on writing exercises. Such self-education may be valuable, but (in my humble opinion) it won’t teach you how to create the kind of stories that not only make your readers hard and wet, but that will haunt their dreams long after the book is closed.
That’s the sort of erotica I, at least, aspire to write. And I believe that no book, no blog, no checklist of best-selling authors’ tried-and-true tricks will allow me to drive you crazy the way I want - not unless my writing flows from the mind, the heart and the soul as well as from the genitals. I need to open myself to everything that’s inside and let it out onto the page.
There’s another way that writing erotica is like having sex. No particular set of moves – no single story – is going to arouse everyone. A tale that pushes my buttons might leave you totally unmoved, and vice versa. As an author, you cannot allow yourself to become discouraged if your particular blend of craft and emotion doesn’t work for some readers. Find the readers you do know how to touch. They’re out there.
Meanwhile, by all means, continue to hone your skills. Study the masters. Explore the nuances of language, the rhythms of dialogue, the deft selection of details that make characters real. Just don’t expect technique alone to guarantee great sex – in your writing or in real life.