Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sex and Writing from the Heart

There is a certain perception that writing about sex cheapens the end product. Some people believe that the value of the finished piece is some how "less" if the writer describes the characters' actions and/or thoughts and conversation while they are having sex. I'm not sure why this is so.

The reaction is not the same if you describe a character eating or working or sleeping. It isn't even the same if you describe the character's actions while say... showering or shaving. One assumes that most people are naked while showering or bathing so that can't be it. But put two people together naked and suddenly it becomes something entirely different. Two people (or more) naked together equals a devaluing of your work.

In my forty years of marriage, sex was pretty much a daily fact of life with a very few exceptions so perhaps my viewpoint is a bit different. I think it's part of life like doing laundry or vacuming. To omit it from the story purposely is the same as saying "and then they had dinner" without describing the meal or "then they talked" without relating the conversation.

I submit that the discomfort some people feel when reading a "sexy" book might be related to their own baggage and hang-ups rather than any true moral outrage. If they are truly outraged at sex, perhaps they should be looking at the origin of their personal beliefs. What are they based and grounded on?

This squeamish attitude toward sex was not always part of our culture. There was a time when sex was a part of life and conversation was peppered with casual references to the sexual act. Read Shakespeare or Chaucer carefully and you'll see what I mean. Surely their readers and audience understood and grasped the "fine points".

Then something happened. Somewhere along the line, someone gained enough power to impose cultural censorship. Imagine that much power and what that could mean to us today. What else are we not permitted to talk, read, or write about?

Oh, I don't advocate handing a sexy book to a youngster. But if we believe that they remain blissfully ignorant because the law says they're not old enough, then we fool only ourselves. If we turn a blind eye to the truth that our kids in some cases know far more than we do about sex, then we have only ourselves to blame when the consequences land on our doorstep.

Nor do I advocate returning to an age when girls (and boys) were married off at twelve or thirteen. That has not much to do with sex and everything to do with emotional and mental maturity. Our overprotectiveness has rendered several generations of individuals who know how to perform the sexual act without knowing how to take responsibility for the actions. It might have been better if we had worried far more about maturity and responsibility and let the sexual chips fall where they may.

Responsibile behavior extends to all areas of life. This is something sorely needed, don't you think? Why else would we have slogans like "Drink responsibly"? What's with that? Every facet of life that's out of control (eating, smoking, financial woes) all have roots in irresponsible behavior. And this most certainly extends to our attitudes toward sex.

Repression and ignorance do not lead to less sex. Check out the underground literature from the Victorian era. Just as prohibition didn't lead to less drinking. Nope. The forbidden is more enticing.

I have a notion that if the books from my publisher were available everywhere (sexy covers included) and you could buy them with the same aplomb that guys buy Playboy, that the demand would fall off sharply. The entire romance genre is eyed with a certain amount of suspicion. Romances aren't "literature" in the same way that mysteries or science fiction are.

I look forward to a day when what I write won't be categorized by genre, but by quality--when the primary question, "What kind of book is it?" will be answered with "one written from the heart."


Don't forget to drop by Kelly's site to check out the wild twist she's written for the Crazy Blog Serial. And of course, tomorrow Amarinda will fire her salvo. If you're just completely lost, then the first twenty four episodes are on the bookshelf page of my website. Scroll down and look on the left side!


  1. Or that I won't be judged by my characters' choice of language!

  2. It comes down to two facts. Is the book well written? And do you want to read eroric romance? All pretty simple.If it's no to both or either give the book a swerve

  3. When I was a Senior in HS, I had a substitute teacher who was appalled because I was reading "The Clan of the Cave Bear"...she asked who had given me the book, and I promptly replied, "My mother!"

    That shut her up, because my mom was a respected member of the school staff!

  4. Ah, geez, she was objecting to Clan of the Cave Bear? Real forward thinking teacher there.

  5. We're talking 1983 or '84...can't remember which semester!