To write the general fallout of Eroticon 2013 would be undeniably foolish, as I'm not entirely sure when it finished. As with all good stories, there's a beginning, a middle and an end - although in what order?
When did it begin - when Ruby did the opening address? When I walked through the revolving door into the Novotel for our pre-convention drinks? Or at some point in between? And what's the ending, as well? The closing plenary? The ending address? Tripping over and taking a dramatic bow before collecting my raffle prize of books? Or going for a drink afterwards?
And what about the middle? Where's that exact point? Well, that I actually know - but that's another blog post entirely.
As for the sessions:
Creative Writing with Kristina Lloyd
If you'd told me I was going to spend the first session of Eroticon in the company of a sex machine which was actually an Excel spreadsheet, a physical/emotional dichotomy floating around in my head and references to silver prose and light creating an extra form of erotic medium... I probably wouldn't have been surprised, actually. And, throughout the threads of woo, shininess and concrete versus sublime hilarity of badly-written sex, this actually got me very much inspired. Me, that is, and probably also the entire room - Jilly was scribbling frantically by my side - as it was genuinely inspiring and incredibly helpful.
I must say I don't write much erotica - the occasional foray into bouncy sex notwithstanding - and, although I'm not going to go through a massive transformation into the next [insert name of male erotica writer here], I certainly am going to have a go at writing a couple of ficlets or so, drawing on inspiration from her many-shaded sex machine. This was, actually, probably my favourite session of Eroticon, and certainly set it up to be a good one.
Eroticism and Romanticism with Remittance Girl
I've always had slightly mixed feelings about Remittance Girl, as I tend to flip between agreeing heartily with everything she says, and having massive disagreements in my head. But, to her credit, this was a pretty good session, despite the title making it sound like a university module worth thirty credits. I actually took three pages of notes, so maybe I was in that headspace, too.
Anyway, the most useful bit of this session was almost definitely the "how?" bit at the end. RG went through four things to think about - intention, structure, style and substance (eerily similar to a checklist I used to go through for reviewing video games) - and reminded us to think about the effect on our characters.
Although I'm not entirely sure I want to put my characters through the wringer - RG at several points seemed close to shouting "MAKE THEM BLEED!" - I totally agree with the overall tone of the session, which I summarised in my notes as "be honest!". Thus, I will. As sure as I'm riding this bicycle.
Erotica in Relationships & Expanding Sexualities with Petra Boynton and Meg Barker
There was a handout for this one - very helpful indeed, as there was a lot of information to take in. Arranged in a democratic circle, things were purported such as erotica as a form of sex therapy, the need to communicate more, different times/situations/people affecting what you may like and/or dislike, and the flaws of the idea that there are good and bad types of sex... all of which are in the first paragraph on the handout. This set the tone for the thorough, thoughtful session as a whole.
My favourite part of this session had to be the group thoughts discussion, wherein we flipcharted a load of ideas about how we might use our own erotic fiction to expand our "sexual menus". I made everyone laugh at one point by saying "fuck". One concept that intrigued me involved writing an erotic story about yourself from the point of view of someone who finds you attractive - something that would be, as I'm sure you'd agree, difficult for myself to do.
It's a real shame we ran out of time on this one, as there was a lot more to explore. But, as I say, there was a handout.
Writing for the Adult Industry with Ruby Goodnight
As interesting as the concept of writing for the adult industry might be, I doubt it's something I have the tenacity to do (I'm too floaty - *ahem*). However, from the point of view of an outsider - as opposed to an adult writer or a wannabe - this was genuinely fascinating. I took lots of notes, including a little picture of a troll going "rah!", although the thing that stood out most for me was the reminder that you are, in fact, writing for someone else. Being able to do that and not crack under the strain earns massive amounts of respect from me.
Short 'n Tweet with @VenaRamphal
And then we have this.
Although I understand the appeal of a Twitter session at Eroticon - without Twitter a lot of the erotica-based things I go to probably wouldn't be happening at all - the way this was run was... well... slightly questionable. The first half was fine - a good introduction to Twitter for the newbies and a reminder of the basics for old-hands - and the setup was okay, with intermittent tweeting from Vena, using a hashtag (#shortntweet) and some good points were made (Twitter is a public profile; it creates a recognisable identity; you are tweeting for the reader). However, during the second half I think we lost our thread.
As a philosopher of love, romance and erotic pleasure (her words), Vena started to make a few points about things that weren't really relevant, and for those of us who've been using Twitter for a long time, I started to question the usefulness of this session. From a quick glance at Emma, I could tell she was thinking the same, and by the end, we were both desperate to finish and amusing each other (as an example of five words we tweet a lot, I came up with "cats", "cake", "me", "soft" and "and"; Emma's were slightly more... uhm... taboo). We exited in laughter and rushed to the closing plenary
However strange this session may have been however, this started the #sandwichtweet trend, to which here's my contribution. All is forgiven.
Ruby's closing plenary, although slightly disjointed, was focused on the future of sex blogs and bloggers, and thus was extremely appropriate to my interests. Very inspiring stuff, and by that point, I was feeling at ease with the people, the emotions around me, and the embraces of the Pope. Time for something to take the action down a notch... and there was. The middle of the weekend...