I think there is a definite Dominant/submissive power structure at play here. Now, I can’t speak for any other erotica writers, but this process could, in fact, be part of the appeal of writing erotica. For sure, many of us write erotica for fun, to turn ourselves and our partners on (could be some D/s dynamic there too!) and don’t think about the potential of publishing. But for others who want their work out in the world in books and online, we must have a little bit of a submissive streak in us, right?
Sometimes, inspiration comes in the most backward way.
When I received The Big Book of Submission: 69 Kinky Tales (Cleis Press), another great collection of erotica shorts edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, I started to wonder about the idea of submission for writers. Okay, wait, that’s not entirely true. I wondered about writers and submission in between reading hot stories. But thoughts did creep in from time to time.
Once I finished the collection, I felt a new desire to write fresh new erotica. It has been a while, but I was inspired. But not in the normal way that good writing usual gets my own creative juices flowing. I was drawn to scribble new smut because I wanted to submit.
For writers, particularly erotica writers, to submit has two distinct connotations. Of course, when we’re talking dirty, submission can be all about the acts of giving yourself over to someone in a sexual, erotic or life-affirming way. Submission can be about control and release. It can be ecstasy, agony and a delicious combination of the two.
On the other hand, for erotica writers, submission has an entirely different meaning—though I suspect it is, at least a bit, linked to the sexy version.
The main way writers of wanton words get their works into the world is by finding Calls for Submission. These are notices put out by editors and publishers seeking specific types of writing for an anthology or website. Because a book like The Big Book of Submission has a specific theme, editors and publishers only want to receive work that reflects that theme so the call for submission lays out the rules of what aspiring submitters should send in.
If you’re a prolific writer, you might already have a tale ready to send in when you see a new call. If not, the call can be an excellent guideline to craft a work that might be a bit out of your wheelhouse. Either way, as I took in so many delicious stories in Bussel’s work, I thought more and more on the idea that whether erotica writers identify with the description or not, we’re all somewhat submissive because we answer calls for submission.
Okay, I know that sounds like a bit of a “yes, Jon, such an astute observation, shush now,” moment, but I think there’s a bit more to it. I think of a writer seeing and reading a Call for Submission for the first time as the beginning of a relationship. You two meet, you intrigue each other, you take some time getting to know each other. You learn what each other wants and craves. The writer wants acceptance, the Call wants to be fulfilled—to exacting specifications. The Call wants you to do very specific things like explore a desired act, complete your submission by a certain time, use desired implements (Times New Roman, 12 pt). The Call wants words written a certain way and the writer is (willingly) powerless to do anything else but comply.
Write those words, impress me with those words and do it just the way I want it.
The Big Book of Submission: 69 Kinky Tales is available and hot. Pick it up!