On Guilt & Pleasure

SmokeI’ve had some interesting conversations recently, many with people who weren’t previously aware that I write erotica. The response was overwhelmingly positive. People tend to be curious and kind of tickled. Plus, there are almost always questions.

Where do you get your inspiration? 

Literally, everywhere. 

Do you do that at home?

Don’t know – depends on what “that” is.

How hard is it to write?

As hard as anything else. Writing, regardless of what you write, takes a lot of work.

I like reading erotica because it’s about things I could never do. Do you write erotica so you can experience those things without feeling guilty for actually doing them?

Um…. Huh.

I’ve only gotten that last question once, but it tripped me up. It was not asked in malice. In fact, the woman was very respectful. Her background dictated that sex, for reasons other than procreation, is a sin, and sins earn you guilt. That’s a fairly common belief so, rather than take offense, her question made me think.

I’m prone to many emotions, but guilt is not one of them. Love? Yes. Regret? Absolutely. I have a boxful of regrets that I am, nevertheless, grateful to have. Guilt, (at least in the traditional sense), plays little to no part in my emotional landscape.

For me, guilt hangs on an externally imposed moral framework – one that, in many ways, I don’t subscribe to. This is not to say that I’m amoral. Far from it. My moral compass is a weighty little thing – it’s just calibrated to my own standards rather than a governing body’s. I don’t believe pleasure is inherently wrong anymore than I believe it’s shameful to occasionally  listen to Copacabana by Barry Manilow, (judge away, people. Judge away).

Many of my pleasures are quite mundane – reading, catnaps and drinking tea. Others are not. I love sex, and I love writing about it. That said, I also respect my responsibilities – to my characters, and my readers and the people with whom I have relationships in real life. That’s where my moral compass points – to responsibility, rather than guilt.

So, no, I don’t worry about guilt in the traditional sense, nor do I write erotica as a means of avoiding guilt while indulging my sexual interests. That said, if other people feel that erotica is an acceptable means of experimentation, I am thrilled. I am thrilled, because everyone’s moral compass is wired a little differently, and pleasure to some, is guilt to others. Though the woman’s question broke my heart a little, I am happy to be one of the people writing windows into forbidden rooms.

9 comments

  1. gorgeous photo to start, and even more gorgeous perspective on writing erotica. the beautiful thing about erotica like any genre, is that it can be a lot of things for a lot of people…

    1. Thanks – I love that photo too. I think it’s from a Vogue spread in the ’50’s – I tried to track down the particulars but haven’t had a any luck yet.. And yes! One of the things I love best about writing is that people read everything through their own personal lens – a piece can be 10 different things to 10 different people…

    1. I loved the last phrase – “windows to forbidden rooms.” While I agree with your guilt assessment on many levels, I do think that many readers feel that way about erotica. Even those less morally hindered! Great post, Malin! (I also like Copacabana.)

      1. Thanks – that phrase just popped out. It felt appropriate 🙂 And yes, I think many readers have conflicted, or at least complicated, relationships to erotica. It’s one of the reasons I try to be safe and non-judgmental when I talk to people about it. It’s like slowly unhooking a stigma one conversation at a time.

  2. This is fascinating! Thank you for writing it.

    I have been wondering, based on a sample size of two (me and Augusta Columbine), whether subs tend towards guilt and doms tend towards anxiety. The association also shows up in two pieces of fiction, Close Protection by Cordelia Kingsbridge (online) and As She’s Told by Anneke Jacob.

    I notice that when I start feeling anxious, it changes very quickly to guilt. Augusta and I think it’s because I’m reverting to a powerless perspective on the world. Whereas she always feels she can do something about the worry.

    So you see that I had quite a practical interest in the question of whether humiliation is effective at driving out guilt. 🙂

    Curious what you think?

    1. That’s really interesting. I hadn’t thought about guilt and anxiety in those terms, but I definitely want to explore the idea more. While I’m not prone to guilt, I’m absolutely prone to anxiety. My major coping mechanism has always been to take some sort of action in an attempt to ameliorate or control the source of the anxiety. This bears out with what several other dominants I’ve chatted with experience as well. It makes me wonder if the impulse to control and the impulse to submit are somehow learned, or if they’re innate traits. I *suspect* it’s a combination of natural inclination and learned response, but it’s hard to tell. People are so damn *individual* 🙂 As always, you’ve given me excellent food for thought, Yingtai (and some lovely reading as well!). Thank you. I’ll let you know if I come up with an opinion that’s less hazy..

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