As far as personal tastes go, I understand that everyone is different. Most people are into sports and that is something I couldn’t care less about. There are people who feel the same way about my books and the fantasy genre as a whole. I respect there are different hobbies and different points of view. That is what makes us human. However, there is one thing in the literary world that particularly bothers me, the attempt to claim that erotica is not pornography.
The last sentence of the previous paragraph undoubtedly raised the ire of a few. Questions such as “how can you claim to be respectful of other people’s interests and make that claim?” For me it’s simple. I am a logical person. As the old saying goes if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. On twitter especially I have seen erotica authors (which seem to be a dime a dozen on there) make various impassioned arguments that erotica isn’t porn at all.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines porn as “the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement.” That sounds a lot like erotica. After all, what is the point of a story that primarily centers around sex if not for the soul purpose of arousal? Sex by itself is not a plot, other plot elements may be intertwined with the story, but if that was the focus it would cease to be erotica.
I bring this up because all other genres may not be enjoyed by all people. I don’t particularly fancy romance, but at the end of the day it is still art. That is what sets erotica apart from all other genres. Strictly speaking, erotica isn’t art, it’s porn. A quick search into the definitions of the two clearly makes a distinction. This isn’t about me pushing my morality onto others or to insult those who read erotica, but I want us to drop the pretense that it is some sort of extreme romance and not functionally a literary version of late night Pay-Per-View.
I believe this is an important topic to discuss. Especially considering the popularity of the genre and recent scientific findings of what porn does to the human brain. As always though, anyone reading this is welcome to disagree. I encourage everyone to research it themselves. Especially the effects of porn and the differences between porn and art. From my point of view the evidence is undeniable, but of course there are those who feel passionately that I’m wrong.
I got a new shipment of books in recently! There is nothing quite like holding a book you labored on for months or years in your hand. If you are interested in a signed copy let me know in the comments or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In my last post I touched on my journey reconciling writing and reading fantasy while being a Christian. There is so much more that could be said on this topic. It is true that many Christians do not have a problem with Fantasy as a genre, and many enjoy it just as much as I do. Yet, there is a culture and expectation amongst certain circles that one should not engage in it. Certainly, this isn’t a topic worth being a martyr over, but it is worth exploring deeper.
The first thing we should get out of the way is that the Bible has been used to justify or condemn every sort of behavior imaginable. This leads to anything from judgmental Pharisee-like attitudes to downright destructive behaviors. The condemnation of Fantasy comes from the Bible speaking out against magic users and sorcerers, and the call for us believers to use good judgement and discernment when it comes to our entertainment. Not a bad intention. On top of that there are those who have more sensitive consciences, which makes it difficult for them to comprehend why someone would enjoy something that appears so “evil” to them.
Putting blanket rules around entertainment is difficult for these reasons. Often times people read into Scripture their presuppositions and try to impose them on others. I understand that, especially since believers are called to rebuke fellow Christians if they are not following God’s commands. However, it is easy to take it too far and become judgmental over things that ultimately do not matter such as enjoying a specific genre of books.
There is something important to note. Most of the time magic and sorcery in fantasy does not even closely resemble occult/pagan magic condemned in Scripture. Magic in ancient times often took the form of astrology and divination or summoning spirits. Fantasy magic such as in Harry Potter is invented as a plot device and for fun. Fiction authors don’t pretend their works are real either which is something that distinguishes itself from true occultism. We are told right away these stories are fake and meant to teach lessons of friendship, love, and what it means to be human among other things.
As believers it is our job to discern what entertainment we consume. Instead of cherry-picking Scripture to back up our biases, we need to look at the Bible in its entirety. Yes, sorcery is condemned in Scripture, but Paul also makes it clear that different people are sensitive to different things. Our only job as believers is to not create a stumbling block, not reign judgment upon other people.
Part of being a writer is reading. That is painfully obvious. Reading gives an author the tools necessary to equip him or her to do the job. That said, I find it difficult to find things to read regularly that I enjoy because I’m pretty picky.
I can spend quite a while reading reviews and scrolling through books in genres that interest me, but rarely am I wowed by something. I like originality, hope, and meaning in stories as I’ve indicated in past blogs. That doesn’t mean characters have to be perfect, on the contrary, I like them to have flaws, but not when those flaws are used to create senseless tension. For example, one series I read a few years ago had a character fight and pine for a female. When he finally wins her heart, and marries her he cheats, without a believable motive to do so. It appeared that the entire point of the secondary romance was to create a forced sense of suspense. As indicated, the character had no real motivation and that’s what bothered me. I know cheating happens, and characters can do it to add depth, but there must be a believable reason for it.
I know quality books are out there, but due to limited time I continue to be picky about my choices. I fully admit that it is partially a personality quirk of mine. However, my search for books that live up to the fiction classics continues. For it is the classics that I tend to enjoy the most, yet I know there are good stories out there, I only need to find more of them.