I feel erotica is a joyous genre. That’s why Fifty Shades of Grey didn’t work for me – I felt no joy on Anastasia’s part, just fear (women in fear doesn’t get me off, unless it’s tempered with some basic consent at the root of it – when I read about someone tracking a woman’s phone, finding out where she works and randomly showing up there and calling socialising a ‘stunt’, I remember far too fucking many conversations with my ladyfriends about Assholes We Have Known And Loved). It’s why Tiffany Reisz’s Original Sinners series works for me, even when a retired assassin is contemplating suicide staring into a pool. In spite of the characters’ pain and suffering, their sexual experiences are ultimately in pursuit of joy – even with the uber-intense and morally-grey Søren (although I love Søren, personally, I’m a Kingsley girl. Or a Nora girl. I cannot be a Christian girl).
At least, that’s my vision of erotica. So how on earth can a person keep writing erotica when they have an illness that shrouds joy in fog?
My depression is currently unmedicated (I have been medicated before – I didn’t like it, although there are tons of medications out there, so I may try another one at some point) and I’m managing it, after a fashion, with lifestyle modifications and much, much support from Mr. Temple and the aforesaid ladyfriends. I recognise my privilege here – it remains at a point where it is manageable in this way, which is worth remembering throughout what follows.
1. Get out of the house.
I have written before about the sheer joy of writing in places that I do not live, where there are no spouses demanding attention by being so damned attractive, and fridges full of Prosecco. But it’s a bit let sexy to tell you that sometimes I need to get away from the diet plans I’m not following, the dishes I can’t find the motivation to wash (like un-depressed people are motivated to wash dishes, but whatever passes for motivation that gets the damned things clean), the empty take-away cartons from when I couldn’t be bothered cooking when it was my turn, the sexy sweater rendered totally unsexy by the fact I can’t fit into it anymore.
It’s not sexy, but it works sometimes.
Right now I am in my local coffeehouse bashing this out, having left Mr. Temple at home watching TV. Here, I’m just the lady in the corner staring intently at the screen as her cappuccino cools beside her. She doesn’t have to be me, and she can write.
2. Be another person
Having a pen name is so helpful for this. Realname doesn’t want to write erotica because her brain is full of nasties. Amy has no such problems.
I realise this strategy has limits. I find driving with music up loud very inspiring, and thus far I’ve managed to be a good, law-abiding citizen and stay below the speed limit, but if I tip over it in future, I bet the police won’t be happy if I try to get the penalty points put on Amy’s licence instead of mine.
3. Use media, pop culture and anything else you can to create the right headspace.
There is a playlist on my computer called Amy. It contains all of the songs that get me into my Amy headspace – Britney’s If You Seek Amy, Air’s Sexy Boy (Amy is more genderfluid than Real Me – but then so, most likely, is Tipper Gore), and various others.Reading erotica authors or factual books for research helps, as does wearing a particular ring that I won at a party once (don’t ask) that I keep for when I’m writing as Amy. It’s tough, but sometimes if I surround myself with enough things to remind me about my Amy side, she starts wanting to talk.
Essentially that’s what all of these tips amount to – create or find a space where the side of you that depression is trying to silence can finally speak.
And for the love of God, talk to someone. Talk to me if you can’t find anyone else. Y’all know where I am.