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October 21st, 2008

5:30 PM

A few musings


I know erotica when I read one

We have worked so hard to establish that romance novels are not porn. Erotic romance authors have to work even harder to defend themselves because there are readers in the community as well as other romance authors who would call them creators of smutty writing. But, come on, sometimes erotica is erotica and there is no point trying to pretend otherwise.

For example, if you have a story about a girl spending the weekend in some cottage having sex with five men, that's erotica. Pretending that she has "intense love" for all five men and have them marry her in a ceremony by the last page in order to make all that sex stuff "respectable" won't cut it. Likewise, a story of two married couple swapping partners in a wild party full of swingers is erotica. You can have the couples going, "Oh, by shagging every other married couple in our neighborhood, our love is now STRONGER THAN EVER!" by the last page, but I'm not buying it. Stop using "they fall in love by the end, so this is the more respectable erotic romance rather than erotica!" as a shield.

There is nothing wrong with erotica, in my opinion. But erotica, an euphemism for smutty stories, really, comes with its share of taboo while the erotic romance tag bestows some kind of respectability inside the genre. I suspect that many publishers opt to market erotica as erotic romance because this makes the books more "respectable" and more readers can then enjoy the naughty stories without feeling guilty or something. I understand the economic reasons behind such a move. But I am not so understanding when authors of such stories insist that they write romance rather than erotica. Am I supposed to believe that they have no idea what they are doing when they have the hero and heroine swing more than horny monkeys on trees or they have the heroine take on three strangers she met in a bar to fulfill some kind of "romantic fantasy"? They are relying on sexual fantasy rather than romance to sell their stories. And if the reader is happy to buy such stories, fine.

But for the authors to claim otherwise when their main aim in writing such stories is to titillate the reader and make some moolah for themselves in the process, that's... weird. They can't be that dense, surely?

Jealousy is not what you think it is

Why is it that whenever a heroine catches a hero in a compromising position with another woman and the heroine gets mad, the hero would swagger and wink knowingly at the reader as he claims that the heroine is just "jealous"? I don't think those authors understand the different between jealousy and anger. I mean, if I catch a man who supposedly adores me in bed with another woman, it is not jealousy that makes me want to drive a knife through his testicles or something. I don't like the way these authors trivialize the heroine's feeling of betrayal and anger with the "jealous" word. A hero who knows that the heroine has feelings for him but toys with other women all the same is an ass. And asses sometimes need to be put down with extreme prejudice. Jealousy has nothing to do with it.

Poets who are convinced that they are born with the gift

When it comes to self-published authors, especially deluded ones, it seems as if seven out of ten of those people are poets. I don't understand the whole craze with poetry myself, but I blame that on my awful English Literature teachers in my schooldays a long time ago who made me memorize Shakespeare and other kinds of verses until I became allergic to many things that rhyme. But it sure seems as if every other person out there dabbles in poetry and is convinced that they have the talent for it.

Hence, poetry.com.It's a well-known scam site, but it's one that will never go away as long as your Uncle Joe or Aunt Bertha believes that he or she is a talented poet. Let's face it, some poets are really talented, but the majority of them merely have a perplexing love affair with ellipses and commas. What poetry.com does is to reassure them that they are among the best poets in the world.

Now, all Aunt Agnes has to do is to buy the compilation where her poem is featured as one of the best ever in the world for herself as well as for her friends and families, pay money to some poetry.com-organized event to mingle with other "greatest poets in the world" and pay more money for workshops and other stuff, and while she's at it, she can also buy pins announcing that she's the best poet in the world ($59.95 - see https://www.poetry.com/poetrybuy/BestPin.asp?VIP=[VIP]&SC=[SC] and weep) along with mugs and such. She is also encouraged to buy those little ugly blue vase thingies for $29.95, each of them containing a copy of her poem - perfect as Christmas presents for hapless relatives! If that is not enough, she can always frame a copy of her "you're becoming a man now" poem as a gift for a nephew's birthday party. And on and on. In other words, poetry.com will keep stoking your ego so that you will keep giving them money for all kinds of expensive vanity gee-gaws.

When Aunt Agnes has written 20 poems, she may decide that she want the spotlight all on herself instead of sharing it with twenty or so greatest poets in the world. So she graduates to PublishAmerica, which also operates on the same principle as poetry.com (we'll stoke your ego and indulge you in your delusions, while charging you in the process). Then her hapless relatives will be forced to buy a trade paperback copy of Aunt Agnes' literary masterpieces, all 90 pages going for $21.95.

Really, what is it with poetry that has every other Joe and Jane thinking that he or she can write them well?

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