November 14, 2014

"I take shop."

So the Guardian posted the "Bad Sex Award" contestants for 2014. I'm not linking because the site keeps crashing my laptop. But you can go look if you want.

When I read the passages, I could only think of one thing. The Breakfast Club. Specifically this scene in The Breakfast Club:

Bender: Why'd you think it would be easy?
Brian: Have you seen some of the dopes that take shop?
Bender: I take shop. You must be a fuckin' idiot!
Brian: I'm a fuckin' idiot because I can't make a lamp?
Bender: No, you're a genius because you can't make a lamp.
Brian: What do you know about Trigonometry?
Bender: I couldn't care less about Trigonometry.
Brian: Bender, did you know that without Trigonometry there'd be no engineering?
Bender: Without lamps, there'd be no light.

Why is that scene playing in my head? Because I believe many people consider erotic writing to be the equivalent of "shop" in the literary world. Any idiot could do it, right? Except, not. Writing scenes that are truly sexy can be incredibly difficult. I have edited close to 100 anthologies, and I have read thousands of short stories. The ones that grab you, that pin you down, the make your heart race—those are special.

Off the top of my head, I'm thinking:

She Looked Good in Ribbons by Sommer Marsden
Foundation Stone by Jax Baynard
Selling Point by Carl Kennedy
Death Rock by Thomas Roche
Chloe's Confession by Sophia Valenti
Hook Trap by Sara Taylor Woods
Body Work by Cora Zane
Lucifer and Venus by Nikki Magennis
Fool's Gold by Shanna Germain

These are drop-dead gorgeous stories. The words linger. The images resonate.

However, reviewers often claim to be surprised by the quality of erotica. Many reviews by people unfamiliar with the genre read as insults wrapped in compliments. "It didn't suck. Isn't that amazing?"

That said—I do find the "Bad Sex Awards" a little mean-spirited. These are tiny paragraphs lifted out of context. And when I think "out-of-context," I think about this.

But I have decided when people ask me what I do from now on, I'll tell them that I take shop.



Miz Angell said...

Love me some Bender. I used to get the same impression from people when I said that I write erotica.

Lately though, people seem impressed that I do. I'm not sure what changed. What I'm almost never asked - and I'm thankful for it - is "You mean like 50 shades of Grey?" If asked that, it's hard for me to not respond in the negative. I try not to trash other authors, because regardless of what I feel the quality of the work is, it's still someone's hard work.

Anyway, I took shop in high school. And I couldn't make a damn lamp either.

FiveAm WriterMan said...

I never took shop - more of a home-ec kinda guy 😉