There are those two equal and opposite tropes of the erotic writer, particularly the female erotic writer: we are either sexy – too sexy, almost – or we are sexless, in amusing contrast to our written work. A lot of the time, the mainstream media will reference both inaccurate images in the same paragraph. It seems to be compulsory to state that the ‘normal’ person writing the piece expected the author to be lounging on a velvet sofa, wearing lace and latex and bright red lipstick but found an ordinary woman in a pinny, offering cups of tea. Of course, we know we come in all shapes, sizes and sartorial styles and are in fact just as diverse as our work.
Having attended a few gatherings of erotica authors as well as running regular slams, I have often been intrigued by everyone else’s clothing choices (which stops me getting all of a lather about my own). Some go for the full heels-and-cleavage, some stick to jeans and shirts, a few dress to suit the theme of their latest stories and a handful seem to favour the travelling executive route. The male authors are a mix, as well, dividing between smart suits and jogging pants and t-shirts accessorized with coffee stains.
How we look and how we feel are intertwined in many ways, and both can impact on what we write. You don’t have to be salon-styled and airbrushed and spend a fortune on your outfit to be desirable, or to feel desirable, and even with the particular emphasis on the link between the self and the work that is a feature of writing erotica, you don’t have to be having vast amounts of innovative, passionate sex to write about it. I’ve written some very hot stuff when I was obsessing over people who were not particularly interested in getting up to anything with me, and some moderately hot stuff when I was going through a long celibate spell.
Which camp do you fall into? Ketchup-smeared vest and slippers and intermittent scuttle with the spouse on a Saturday night, pristine minimalism and clear, lucid prose, or sitting at your desk in nipple rings and a tutu, telling tales of sweet romance?