Wonder Boi Writes

Rachel’s First Erotica

Announcement: I have published my first erotica short story, Safe Word, and it’s a pretty graphic first attempt.

If your reaction to that news is: WhooHoo! What took you so long, Spangler? Then please, go read it right now!

If, however, you reacted to that announcement by scratching your head in confusion, don’t feel bad. This might not seem very consistent with the image I project as a writer or a person, not at first glance anyway, but I’m asking you to hang with me. You’ve all come to know me (I hope) as sweet romance writer, a family person, an all -around good boi, and it’s ok if the idea of my writing some major adult content takes some getting used to.  It took some getting used to for me, too. Years of getting used to.

I started writing erotica as a way to hone my craft. Sex scenes are always the most challenging part of my novels. Every word matters in a way it doesn’t in other areas.  For instance, no one freaks out when I say “cabinet” instead of “cupboard,” but the difference between “butt” and “ass” can completely pull a reader out of the story.  There’s also the added challenge of balancing the physical with the emotional. All good fiction is character driven, so it’s important to keep the readers in the characters’ minds, but if you’re too cerebral, the reader will get bored. Then again if you’re not in your head enough, they might as well be reading an anatomy textbook. Some people say good writing is all about making choices, and erotica taught me to make those choices more purposefully and more quickly.

Writing short erotic pieces also helped me to practice basic writerly tasks like developing conflict and characters very quickly. The more erotica I wrote, the more I appreciated the genre, not just as tool to teach writing, but as a place to test boundaries, power dynamics, the nature of relationships. Sometimes I explored big issues at a micro level. Other times, I examined ideas that didn’t have enough substance to carry an entire novel but had no less ability to reveal a person’s character. Sex is a time when we as humans bring as much baggage to the table as possible, then expose it all. Issues that may lie dormant for months in polite company come roaring to the surface when people let down their guard, and sex makes people vulnerable in ways few other acts can. The way people react to that vulnerability tells you a great deal about who they are and how they relate to the world. I found myself understanding and expressing more about my erotica characters in a short amount of page space than I ever had about the romantic leads in my novels.

So if writing erotica was good for my craft and for my understanding of character and produced work I was technically very proud of, why didn’t I share any of that with any of you? This is the question I wrestled with for years. The impulse to write drives me. It defines me. I don’t know who I’d be with out it, but the impulse to publish is a different animal entirely, and the impulse to publish about sex carries almost as much baggage as the act of having sex. Sure there has been sex in my books, but it’s been part of larger romantic arcs. We have names in our culture for people who just have sex without the romantic build up. They aren’t nice names. They aren’t names I think any of you would dare level at me up until now, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t worry about you thinking them after you read some of these stories. I’ve worked hard to give you my best both as a person and as a writer, but what if my best as a writer didn’t always look like me at my best as a person?

The most common comment I got from friends and fellow authors who helped me along the way was, “Damn, Rach, I didn’t know you had this in you,” usually accompanied by a look of glee. For a while that made me nervous. So I tried to forget about the story. But the people who’d read it kept bringing it up. They asked questions and made suggestions, they wanted to talk about the issues raised, they wanted to share experiences, and somehow, these erotic pieces gave them the freedom to do so. It turns out we all had these questions, these feelings, these fears, and fantasies inside of us. We had some of the most revealing, enlightening, and purely fun conversations I’ve ever had. Throughout the months and years that followed, I came to realize being interested in sex and all the emotional and physical complexities that come with it didn’t make us bad people, and admitting that might even have made us more complete versions of ourselves.

You see, I can’t promise you this story will be your thing, and it’s okay if it isn’t, but I can promise you it is some of my very best writing. I can promise you real characters I worked hard to paint with full brushes. I can promise you a tight balance between the emotional and the physical. Oh, and by the way, I can promise some pretty hot sex along the way.

This story might not be the Rachel Spangler you’re used to, but if you give it a shot, I think this more complete version of me and my work will still offer you a Rachel Spangler you identify with.

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November 22, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized

2 Comments »

  1. Just purchased…will read it today…

    Comment by Donna MacArthur | November 22, 2013 | Reply

  2. I love the diversity in your writing and the challenge you gave yourself to write Erotica. Look forward to reading your works of this very revealing area of life.
    I wish you all the best!

    Comment by elizabethriggin | November 23, 2013 | Reply


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