The debate swirls and continues, and as a writer of romance…no, as a lover of romance, I come back to the same question: What is romance? And I’m ready to ditch my answer. I know. I know. A hundred times we’ve discussed this. Romance and romantic are different. Death, itself, can be romantic. Nature and a destructive snowstorm can be romantic. Lovers in love but giving that up can also be romantic. There is something aesthetically romantic in beauty itself. And beauty can even be pain. Therefore, pain is romantic, especially when the sufferer does so for love.
But the genre of Romance has confines. Definitions. The trope of the Happily Ever After or Happy for Now is a MUST-HAVE. You try to publish. You'll see. In big, NEON letters, they state: Must have a happy ending. There are further restrictions as well.
Throw the word “erotic” into it and a myriad of new problems arise. Suddenly the negative connotations abound. It’s pornography. It’s worthless. It’s “sex sans relationship.” Certainly, that kind of erotica is prevalent and alive. And if that is what a reader or watcher wants, that is their right, their prerogative.
But that label, dear friends, is not one for me. None of these definitions or meanings are true necessarily, but it the broad brush-stroked way it has become. I’m beginning to want to distance myself more and more from that connotation of erotic or erotica as the equivalent to sex and titillation only, that equation that erotica is pornography. It isn't. Not always. And I want to be titillated but always within the framework of a story. Whatever word is opposite "sans"-- I want that. In fact, sex for mere titillation just bores me to fucking tears.
Leon F. Seltzer writes in his article, “What Distinguishes Erotica from Pornography":
“If the erotic celebrates sexuality, placing it on a plateau above any essentially
masturbatory act of copulation, then it can be seen as diverging markedly from the
pornographic. Pornography proposes a temporary "fix" for our sexual frustrations; eroticism offers us something more elusive--an opportunity to experience sensuous delight of a higher order….
"What in general separates the erotic from the pornographic is an attitude toward sex and human sexuality that can be inferred from looking (dare I use the word, "objectively"?) at the finished product. If the subjects are portrayed in a manner that focuses on their inner and outer radiance, their fleshy vitality, and the work itself seems to manifest a passionate and powerful affirmation of life and the pleasures of this world, then I think we're talking erotic. If, however, the subjects seem reduced to so many body parts, if any beauty appears subordinate to the overriding purpose of arousal, if the sex depicted seems depersonalized, controlling, non-mutual, and devoid of fun or play (but rather seems about "getting down to business" and "getting off")--and if the sex acts pictured contain not a hint of human caring or emotional connectedness to them--that, to me, would definitely secure the work's place in the realm of pornography.”
So I labeled myself an Erotic Romance Writer. But what I write is neither of those things as defined individually or lumped together. Yes. I find beauty in the romantic but not ROMANCE as it’s been labeled. I almost label that trite. And yes. Erotic. But not for the sex it implies that is for mere titillation. To me the erotic is the relationship that organically manifests itself between people finding and exploring love. It is the universality of accepting the darkness that makes up human nature, the darkness I find so romantic within that dance, the inevitable opening up that lets in the light of sensuality between two human beings becoming one together without the confines of preconceived morality. In short, an exploration of all the facets of both the subconscious and conscious of light and dark. “Emotional connectedness.” Yes, Dr. Seltzer. That.
I’m here to say that it’s time we start a new genre. I’m dead serious.,,,
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