Today as I was skimming my e-mails I came upon a blog post on my new publishers blog about alternative romance and found myself inspired to comment. After commenting (and when I comment I babble) I discovered I had more to babble about. My main subject for the day is erotica vs. romance in writing.
Part of being a writer is to create an image or moment using words on paper as a painter uses paint on a canvas. As someone who originally started out as an artist in my humble opinion I try to do exactly that. For me it’s not just about the physicality, but also the emotional and sometimes spirituality of the moment. Yes, I said spiritual and no I didn’t stutter. For me when a couple goes the last step and has sex it can, if the connection is true, be a spiritual experience. I don’t necessarily believe in the soul mate thing with every relationship on the planet, but it can happen and when it does–Wow!
In my experience so far as a writer the definition for erotica can vary depending on the reader, writer, and/or publisher. A prime example of this is a story from years ago when I was just starting out as a writer of fan fiction. At the time I was tipping my toe into the ‘adult’ version of fan fiction and was terrified.
Inspired by the song Stroke of Luck by the alternative rock band Garbage I wrote a flash fiction. In the story a woman is watching a man sleep. There is no sex. We just get her thoughts as she watches him sleep; the way she feels for him, the way she sees him vs. the way he sees himself. I wrote it from an emotional perspective.
The first feedback I received was from a fellow writer who stated “God that was one of the hottest things I’ve ever read. I do believe my pantyhose have melted.”
Okay, for that woman the scene was erotic, even beautiful, yet there was no physical contact between the two characters. Hell, the man didn’t even know she was watching him, he slept while she mused silently about their relationship. So, you tell me would you consider this erotica or romance? Or perhaps it would be erotic-romance.
My curiosity has gotten the best of me. Is erotica different from erotic and what defines the differences? Can something be erotic without a physical encounter? Does the lack of physical contact make it just romance?
I grew up watching the old classic movies of Hollywood’s Golden Age and for me eroticism can be played out without so much as a naked boob or ass. A prime example of this is the famous ‘you do know how whistle’ scene in To Have and Have Not (1944) between Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. Through the entire scene you get the sense they aren’t talking about money sometimes. The most contact they have is when she sets in Bogart’s lap and helps herself to a kiss. There is a sexual tension between them through out in my opinion. Check out the scene and tell me that isn’t erotic:
So, maybe I’m a bit old-fashioned sometimes and my definition of eroticism isn’t always what you see, but rather what you don’t.
I’d love to hear your opinions.
Until Later…Blessed Be