Erotica Between Lovers
Once upon a time, I was in a long-distance relationship. Although we got to see each other about once a month, and the distance created anticipation which led to exciting, impassioned reunions, the arrangement still left something to be desired.
I love writing, and also sex, so I thought, why not try writing erotica for each other? I suggested it to my boyfriend. I thought we could write a serial story, one twist at a time, but he demurred and said he didn’t feel comfortable writing erotica himself, but he’d love it if I wrote some and shared it with him. After a small amount of huffing and puffing I decided to give it a try. And in doing so I discovered a powerful way to turn both of us on. Here is a list of some things I learned along the way, in the hope that if you try a similar arrangement, it’ll help get you off (yeah, I know) to a flying start.
1) It doesn’t have to be great. Objectively, that is. Having sky-high expectations of oneself can kill the project before it even gets started. Unless the person you’re writing for has extremely sophisticated taste in writing, I’d encourage you to let go of any ideas that you’re “not a writer” or won’t be coming up with some award-winning prose. If your audience is yourself, tell your inner perfectionist to pipe down. I’m partly writing this as a reminder to myself.
2) You can polish it later. I often think about Ann Lammott’s suggestion in “Bird by Bird”, her book about writing, to allow yourself to write “crappy first drafts”- just get some words down on the page and worry about making them sound good later. It doesn’t matter if it sounds silly, cliched, or awkward. Just get started. And remember that this is for fun, that you get to choose the audience, and anybody who you do share it with is lucky. You can go back and polish it later if you want. Or not.
3) Establish that this writing will be kept private. Unless you want it to go public, that is. It’s a privilege for your lover to read what you’ve written, and you should establish that they’re up to the responsibility of maintaining your trust by keeping your work private. Knowing that only my lover and I would be reading what I wrote freed me up to express myself and be playful.
4) Write what you know. I found that drawing from my own experiences gave my writing the ring of truth. Draw from your experiences, embellishing and adapting them as you see fit. You can work what you know into fantasy situations, too. Be sure to include intimate details from your memories; that will enliven the writing and save it from sounding generic.
5) Write about what you don’t know. This is a great, safe space to try out new fantasies. Try writing stories about personas and scenarios that have worked for you in porn or other erotica, or were cooked up by your big sexy imagination. Whether they would work for you in real life doesn’t matter; in writing, you can try them on for size without pressure. Also consider taking on lovers’ fantasies and exploring them, trying to find the eroticism in them if it’s eluded you or luxuriating in the mutual turn-on if it’s something you both enjoy.
6) Write with someone in mind. Since my stories were going to my boyfriend, it brought the scenarios closer to home, and it was exciting to think about how he’d react to what he was reading. I wrote one playful, quirky story in which he and I were fictionalized versions of ourselves picking each other up at a bar, but I personalized it, working in a great deal of inside jokes and references to shared experiences in silly and sweet ways. I read it out loud to him in bed, and he was all over me. But I fended him off until I finished my reading- an artist has to uphold certain standards.
7) Communicate about what kind of feedback you’re looking for. If you genuinely want suggestions and constructive criticism, go for it, but it’s also valid to want praise and encouragement and that’s it. Since you’re trying something new, you may feel nervous to share what you’ve written, so communicate that to your lover to help ensure the kind of reception you’re looking for.
8 ) If your lover writes for you, be the kind of audience you’d want for yourself. Be abundantly appreciative. Uncritical. Encouraging. Their first efforts may be halting, awkward, gramatically untamed. I had the impulse to critique my boyfriend’s first effort and steer it in a direction I found more compelling. But it really worked better when I was just supportive. And I got more of what I wanted. His writing was incredibly sexy because he wrote it with me in mind, and touching because he went out on a limb to try something new for my sake.
9) Save it. I regret erasing my work when that boyfriend and I broke up. At the time, it was too loaded with tender memories, and I wanted nothing more than for it it disappear when our relationship ended. But now I wish I had just saved it somewhere out of the way, so now I could go back and polish and adapt and potentially publish it now that the pain from the breakup has dimmed. If you do hold on to it, be sure to save it somewhere where it won’t leap out and surprise you (or others) at unexpected moments.
10) Enjoy surprising yourself. I was always thrilled and amazed at what I could come out with in my erotic writing. Even though many of the scenarios I was exploring were pretty vanilla in the grand scheme of things, it still was incredibly hot and exciting to make them my own. Write where you have some privacy. And sex toys. You’ll want them. Have fun!