I think I may have spoken on this subject before in a previous blog post, but it’s always good to revisit themes as a writer (or even a person) ages. I think any high school erotica writer with a conscience has asked themselves at one time or another, “am I doing a bad thing or enabling bad thoughts and behavior by writing this?” There are people out there with bad intentions and desires – violent, sexual, etc. Does writing about these things make one complicit?
I’m not about to break down Tom Clancy’s door blaming him for many of the war crimes we’ve seen in the twenty-first century. First of all, he’s dead, so it wouldn’t accomplish much. Second of all, it sounds a little silly to blame one person’s writing for literal war crimes, no matter what the events, or themes, of one person’s book happen to be.
But, on the other hand, nothing happens in a bubble. The more we write, read, pay attention to, and believe certain themes, the more real they can feel in our world.
I am aware there are people under eighteen that read my work. I don’t condone it, I certainly don’t endorse it, but, to deny that people under eighteen are reading porn is denying reality. To deny that people under eighteen have sex is to deny what’s going on, daily. I don’t see minors having sex with each other as an inherently bad thing provided both parties consent and there’s some sort of limit – if one is fifteen and one is sixteen and you think you’re both ready, yeah, go to town. If one of you is thirteen and one of you is eighteen, maaaybe wait until the younger one is more mature, both age-wise and mentally.
Not to mention, speaking as someone who lost their virginity at a young age, teenage sex isn’t exactly glamorous. There’s a lot of hormones, sure, but there’s also mistakes, awkwardness, uncertainty, drama, and more times than we might think, miscommunication. Sex between people under eighteen is, in nine times out of ten cases, not hot. If every act of sex was filmed and you saw what teenagers did, first of all, enjoy prison, but second of all, you’d cringe more than get into it.
Erotica is fun in what it honestly shows but it’s also fun for what it doesn’t show. The grand majority of erotica writers get rid of the awkwardness of sex. We like making characters more mature than they actually are. Some readers have praised the “authentic” dialogue from Being More Social, and respectfully, I disagree. If I was actually writing how an awkward freshman talked, especially about sex, you’d be flaccid the entire time and scoff at how terrible the story is. Adam talks, realistically speaking, like an introspective but possibly naive adult. It’s fun to imagine a mature kid thinking and speaking like he does, and sure, some of his dialogue can get more “high school kid,” but if you genuinely think he speaks like a freshman, odds are you have a skewed view of how freshman think/act and think more highly of your past self than you remember, which I imagine applies to a lot of us.
To research my stories, I’ve gone back to look at text messages I’ve sent in ninth grade. To put it lightly, I was embarrassed. Erotica writers aren’t ignorant of this reality, they’re willfully choosing to portray an alternate reality. I don’t want to write an ultra-realistic account of a fourteen-year-old having sex. Sorry; to me that’s creepy. I instead remember the hormones I had at fourteen, and tweak just enough variables to tell a story that compromises between reality and fantasy.
If I’m going to write a story that has kids doing sexual acts in it, I want it to be divorced from reality. When I was a kid, I read a lot of high school erotica. I started young, as in, grade school. I had a very warped mind and perception of how girls acted by the time I got into high school. I said, did, and thought a lot of… embarrassing things. And that was with the divorced-from-reality stories I read. I think if someone grew up consuming a lot of realistic teen erotica, they could be led to believe and do some very destructive things. Again, nothing happens in a bubble, and what we write and read shapes our collective mind and normalizes/brings to light whatever themes we speak of. This is why I mention consent so much in my stories. I’m trying to be mindful of that. I try also to skate the line between “the story should have a moral” and “sometimes people do immoral things in real life, it’s dishonest not to include these events, that’s not necessarily my endorsement of these events.” But that’s a story for another time.
Anyway, I’ve received both praise for my dialogue being ‘realistic,’ and criticism that some of my characters ‘don’t talk like they’re in high school,’ and it’s important to keep in mind the volatility of my subject matter no matter what one thinks of the dialogue, events, etc. It’s a fine line to walk, and god knows I’m still learning. I’ll talk to you all next week.