“The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clearing, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in the abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.” ~ Kate Chopin, The Awakening
Aphrodite awakens in us, born from the sea of our soul. She is symbolic of erotic dreams and desires. The ocean, saline, amniotic, the primordial sea, womb of life. We are made of stardust and seashells, and all of the yearning that stretches beyond our bodies. The erotic within us is that yearning, the coming together and ignition of our souls. We are longing to feel that magical passion for life when we seek the erotic, as Eros was spirited away by his love for Psyche.
The story of Eros and Psyche had a longstanding tradition as a folktale of the ancient Greco-Roman world long before it was committed to literature in Apuleius‘ Latin novel, The Golden Ass. This is apparent and an interesting intermingling of character roles. The novel itself is picaresque Roman style, yet Psyche and Aphrodite retain their Greek parts. It is only Eros whose role hails from his part in the Roman pantheon.
The story is told as a digression and structural parallel to the main storyline of Apuleius’ novel. It tells of the struggle for love and trust between Eros and Psyche. Aphrodite is jealous of the beauty of mortal Psyche, as men are leaving her altars barren to worship a mere human woman instead, and so commands her son Eros to cause Psyche to fall in love with the ugliest creature on earth. Eros falls in love with Psyche himself and spirits her away to his home. Their fragile peace is ruined by a visit from Psyche’s jealous sisters, who cause Psyche to betray the trust of her husband. Wounded, Eros leaves his wife, and Psyche wanders the Earth, looking for her lost love.
In Apuleius’s The Golden Ass, Psyche bears Cupid a daughter, Voluptas (“Pleasure, Desire”).
“Anyone who falls in love is searching for the missing pieces of themselves. So anyone who’s in love gets sad when they think of their lover. It’s like stepping back inside a room you have fond memories of, one you haven’t seen in a long time.” ~ Haruki Murakami
I could say that I’ve been asleep. Dreaming, for how long I’m not sure, perhaps years. My soul has been caught in the tide of reverie and longing. There are layers of my being that I do not reveal that are sediment, deep within. Places within me that I didn’t know existed. Just as grains of sand are eroded rock and shell, thousands of years have created it— our souls have mysteries like that. When the light sparks and the glimmer of something beautiful is discovered, then that is the moment. It is a memory. So I have been going along this current of memory, like the ocean waves, lost in it, not caring where it takes me. I have had many lovers in my life and many erotic experiences. All fragments of my erotic landscape. It’s all there to use as a palette, along with the imagination. Writing about the erotic is really an adventure on the soul level.
“Writing is a process, a journey into memory and the soul.” ~Isabel Allende
You might say I’ve been in the mood for love. I’ve been dormant, sleeping within. But there has been a marvelous phenomenon happening inside of me lately, an awakening of my soul. This awakening has been sparked, like Sleeping Beauty, by a kiss of life, and now I am vibrating with passion. Like any birth, there is blood involved, and pain, and things that I had not known about myself. All this time, I think I have been sleeping. Now it’s all fire and passion and living in every moment. I haven’t had much time to sleep. My mind is restless, and I am hyper-aware, even my flesh is alive with sensitivity. My soul is awake and my heart is full of passionate fire. Awakening.
“Erotica is using a feather; pornography is using the whole chicken.” ~Isabel Allende
I’ve been writing stories, erotic love stories, but in the process of writing, I am learning something new about myself. I make discoveries. It’s like sifting through soil, finding fragile treasures, tiny shells, whorls of prismatic layers and inner pearly chambers. Inside oneself is the treasure. My erotic self is tender within and soft. I am beginning to see the beauty of this process, searching through my memory, finding things that I never realized until the writing revealed it to me. When I say “erotic” what I am attempting to say is “passionate nature” and thus, we are naturally erotic and passionate beings. Passion is about life. And life is about sex and love, and all the complexities of being human. It is our instinct, to love. Longing is the yearning, to discover what lies within.
“Writing is like making love. Don’t worry about the orgasm, just concentrate on the process.” ~Isabel Allende
When I first started writing erotica, I had no idea what path I was choosing. It is easy to say, “Oh, yes, I will write about sex,” as if doing so automatically makes it something delicious to write about. But what ends up happening in the process is an unearthing of one’s psyche and all the contents. It’s a veritable Pandora’s Box. Sex is life. So I’m writing about life. Yes, even creating fiction is writing about life. Creating characters that are part of one’s self, so you really cannot get away with hiding it all. Sooner or later, it all comes to surface. As a painter, I thought of my paints and brushes as my language. Writing poetry and erotica were secondary. I kept it secret like a diary. It revealed too much of myself. Painting, on the other hand, was pure expression, all color and light. I didn’t have to explain my reasons or confess my darknesses and shadows. I just had to apply the paint to the canvas and allow the feeling to come through.
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ~Anaïs Nin
I love Anaïs Nin’s “Delta of Venus” and “Little Birds” out of all her writings. I admire her use of dream-like imagery and poetic layering. I like that her characters are imperfect and human. When I read various writers’ works in erotica anthologies, I enjoy some the modern stories, but in general, the lewd and formulaic writing is disappointing. I want to say I enjoy most of it, but, just like anything worth its weight in salt, most of the stuff our there sounds the same. I don’t want to churn out the stories full of “cock” and “pussy” and “cunt” and “thrust” without those words being used in a creative way, adding some juice to them; those names for our body parts that deserve more than being thrown about in between verbs and periods and paragraphs. Reinventing those “fuck words” with new life and energy, charging them with cosmic fuel.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~Anaïs Nin
So, in the quest to write erotica, I have begun to discover, I am writing about life, love and human beings. Writing about being human, sexual and flawed, vulnerable, and other aspects. Fantasy, dreams. Romanticism, shadowy recesses and hidden corners of my erotic mind come into the realm of the written word.
I want it messy. I want it raw and real and vibrant. I want romance and longing. Passion. I know it may sound cliche or corny, but I want love. I want to be covered in the musky scent of sex. I want the stories I write to express something about human emotion and how life isn’t perfect. I want to create dreams and pleasure. I want to write about passion and the impermanent and sometimes heartbreaking beauty of life.
(painting by Gajin Fujita)
Henry Miller loved Anaïs Nin. She was married to Hugh Guiler. Her diaries, Vol.1, 1931–1934, were written when Anaïs lived a bohemian life with Henry Miller during her time in Paris. Her husband (Guiler) is not mentioned in her diary at that time. Henry and Anaïs remained lovers and kindled their passion for one another as artists, as writers, in love with each other; in love with life and the creative fire, passion.
Henry Miller to Anaïs Nin on March 4, 1932
“Three minutes after you have gone. No, I can’t restrain it. I tell you what you already know – I love you. It is this I destroyed over and over again. At Dijon I wrote you long passionate letters – if you had remained in Switzerland I would have sent them – but how could I send them to Louveciennes? Anais, I can’t say much now – I am in a fever. I could scarcely talk to you because I was continually on the point of getting up and throwing my arms around you.”
Anaïs Nin to Henry Miller on March 26, 1932
“This is strange, Henry. Before, as soon as I came home from all sorts of places I would sit down and write in my journal. Now I want to write you, talk with you. [...] I love when you say all that happens is good, it is good. I say all that happens is wonderful. For me it is all symphonic, and I am so aroused by living – god, Henry, in you alone I have found the same swelling of enthusiasm, the same quick rising of the blood, the fullness, the fullness … Before, I almost used to think there was something wrong. Everybody else seemed to have the brakes on. [...] I never feel the brakes. I overflow. And when I feel your excitement about life flaring, next to mine, then it makes me dizzy.”
Passionate souls and creative spirits, Anaïs and Henry wrote erotica together with other writers and artist friends, for a dollar per page commissioned by a secretive patron. The patron was a wealthy Oklahoma oil millionaire Roy Milisander Johnson. He commissioned these erotic manuscripts from writers like Anaïs and Henry. But. He wanted the poetry cut out. He just asked for the matter-of-fact details of sex.
Anaïs Nin on writing erotica for the eccentric patron:
“I gather poets around me and we all write beautiful erotica. As we have to suppress poetry, lyrical flight, and are condemned to focus only on sensuality, we have violent explosions of poetry. Writing erotica becomes a road to sainthood rather than to debauchery…We have to cut out the poetry, and are haunted by the marvelous tales we cannot tell. We have sat around, imagined this old man, talked of how much we hate him, because he will not allow us to make a fusion of sexuality with feeling, sensuality and emotion, and lyrical flights which intensify eroticism.”
Anaïs could not continue removing the poetry from the erotic. The wealthy patron became an albatross to her creative juices, and, finding the arrangement intolerable, she and the other writers could not go on writing sex without the poetry of life. She wrote a letter which the patron never received:
We hate you. Sex loses all its its power and magic when it becomes explicit, mechanical, overdone, when it becomes a mechanistic obsession. It becomes a bore. You have taught us more than anyone I know how wrong it is not to mix it with emotion, hunger, desire, lust, whims, caprices, personal ties, deeper relationships, which change its colour, flavour, rhythms, intensities…You are shrinking your world of sensations. You are withering it, starving it, draining its blood…”
And in the art of writing erotica, life is what it’s all about. Life and living passionately, as if every single moment was as precious as our breath. A great big “Yes” when we are lost in pleasure. A “Yes” when we are in the arms of our lover.
“All night I could not sleep, because of the moonlight on my bed, I kept on hearing a voice calling: Out of Nowhere, Nothing answered “yes.” ~ Zi Ye (6th-3rd century B.C.E.) Chinese poet