Home > The Politics of Porn, Writing > Inspirations, Part One

Inspirations, Part One

In high school and college, I was a theatre person. You can tell by the pretentious spelling of “theater.”

At any rate, many of my friends were somewhere on the GLBT spectrum, and before there was the internet to help the friends of Dorothy find each other, there were bookstores with rainbow flags out in front.

Browsing in one of these is eye-opening for little straight suburban girls. It’s a good way to see that the same work of art can be interpreted through multiple lenses. For example, as a twelve year old girl, I had discovered Mercedes Lackey, and collected the entire Valdemar series. As a college student, standing in a faaaaaabulous bookstore, I discovered that Mercedes Lackey was considered a gay-friendly author.

Now, in Valdemar she had a few gay supporting characters, one lead character (in that he had his own trilogy), and made it clear that homosexuality is not a choice or something to fear. Bear in mind that because I grew up reading her approach to the topic, I didn’t actually realize how monumentally unusual that was in mainstream fiction during the late 80s and early 90s. I thought her attitude was the norm and anyone saying otherwise was freakishly bigoted. When I said this out loud in that bookstore (remember, straight suburban college freshman), I was made aware of how poorly informed I was.

I haven’t gone as off topic as you might think. Mercedes Lackey is absolutely one of my inspirations. She writes clear, popular, page-turning genre fiction. She produces, among other virtues, proof that genre fiction can follow a formula without being formulaic.

But in that bookstore, I also discovered a writer called Lindsay Welsh.

I read two pages of a book called “The Best of Lindsay Welsh,” and I marched it right over the cashier because it set my hair on fire.

I identify as a straight woman. I am married to the most wonderful man who ever drew breath. And this lady’s erotica is still my go-t0 book when the night is cold and the husband is sleeping.

What was so revolutionary for me was that it clearly wasn’t porn. The writing was terrific, with great characters. I felt like I was right there in the story, feeling the things being done to the character’s body.

The other thing that melted my brain was the language. Up to that point, I’d seen two variations in word choice:

A) His rigid member nudged into her tender womanhood.

B) His gigantic penis sprayed cum on her face.

Welsh didn’t use any embarrassing euphemism, avoided spelling variations I associated with men’s magazines, and still made it explicit. And hot. So hot. Wow. Hair on fire. I practically have “Provincetown Summer” memorized at this point.

I didn’t start writing erotica then, but flipping pages in that bookstore was the moment where I realized stories could be erotic and well written.

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  1. January 21, 2010 at 10:40 AM

    Erotica isn’t mere porn, I agree with you. I love well written books, but the closest thing to erotica I’ve ever purchased is Nora Roberts, and she’s got a greand total of 2 sex scenes in the steamiest book of hers I own. >_>

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