I like smut (but please don’t tell anyone) by Elizabeth Cage
I know that you might be getting bored with any further mention of FSOG. You’ve bought the tee shirt (yes, it’s actually on sale in a store near you with the slogan, “We aim to please”) and you’ve added the cd to your Amazon wish list (which contains all the tracks mentioned by Mr Grey, who, being sophisticated, knows a lot of classical music).
But a surprising comment by a friend, a professional artist, got me thinking about an issue that probably affects erotica writers in particular, and triggered this post.
Said friend has just read my three short story collections now available on kindle, and gave me positive and honest feedback in an email, adding a question. Did I think FSOG had broken down barriers and made erotica more mainstream and acceptable? In the next sentence, she apologised for not feeling able to put a review on Amazon because her user name was her actual name and she felt inhibited about what would be a public admission that she read explicit erotica. In fact, quite a few of my friends and colleagues, who are all hugely supportive of what I do, have admitted the same. They would not want to be named publicly as a reader of smut.
This is really frustrating and not a situation I had anticipated. Surely the favour FSOG had done for erotica writers was bringing us into the mainstream? I felt disappointed. Then I reflected further. Was I being hypocritical? After all, I use a pseudonym for my erotica so I was also concealing what I did. I tell myself it’s the public perception of erotica that accounts for this. And because I write other genres under a different pen name and I wouldn’t feel comfortable if the two genres were linked.
A fellow literary writer (of non-erotica) once told me that hiding behind a pen name indicated a lack of integrity. I felt hurt – but was she right? Should I be loud and proud? Should I come out and use my real name? Maybe one day I will. But for now, it looks like I’m as conflicted as my friends on this matter. What do other writers think?
A published writer since her teens, Elizabeth Cage has been writing erotica since 1999. Her stories, poems and articles have appeared in numerous magazines including Scarlet, Desire, Forum, For Women, In the Buff, The Hotspot, and the International Journal of Erotica, as well as The Mammoth Book of Lesbian Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica 2010 (Cleis) and her fiction regularly appears in the anthologies and e-books from Xcite . Her recent collections, Crimson Kisses, Second Helpings and Love Bites are all available from Amazon. She also does guest blogs, author talks, interviews, events and workshops.