Erotica Isn’t Simply Smut

I jokingly refer to working on erotica as “writing my smut.” I think the word “smut,” itself, is a funny word, evoking an image of a granny in an afghan and glasses on a chain waggling her finger with disapproval.

We’ve been conditioned to think of sex as a taboo subject, and it often makes us uncomfortable. When something is given that kind of label, it seems to slide into the realm of “good” and “bad,” of “virtuous” and not so.

Like “smut” and “romance.” Is it the arousing nature of erotica that divides it from straight romance? Is it the language? When you think about it, romance takes you to the same place, it just doesn’t give you all the steamy details.

Like any romance, or most fiction, really, erotica is about connection. It reveals a facet of a character’s life, one that is usually hidden, while taking the reader on a vicarious, sensual adventure. It’s not only sex for sex’s sake – though there’s not a thing wrong with that – but sex as it’s experienced by the characters, through the characters.

We are all curious about what happens behind closed doors, and erotica opens them, offering the opportunity to see that human desire takes many forms and is expressed many ways. Despite my amusement with the word “smut,” it implies a kind of dirtiness in simply thinking about sex, and sex does not have to be dirty.

Unless you want it  to be.