The Unexpected Erotic Discoveries of Tidying Up

by | Feb 18, 2019 | 2 comments

We’ve lived in our house for 28 years, and with both kids in college, we decided to give the entire inside of the house a much-needed fresh coat of paint. Our project has also given us the opportunity to take stock of our belongings and clear out things that are moldy and rusty and definitely don’t spark joy. I know Marie Kondo is getting both love and hate these days, but I first read her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, back in 2014 and am finding it useful for this massive home overhaul.

This is a photo of the office where I do my writing, cleared of everything but the heavy furniture. The walls, once beige, are now sky blue, and I plan to perk up the room with a colorful rug to replace the old gray carpet. I’m looking forward to getting back to work in my refreshing new environment!

As I cleaned out the filing cabinet, I was expecting to toss a lot of files, but the biggest surprise for me was the rediscovery of a pink shoe box of love letters written to me over the years, some dating back to the 1970s. I was thinking I would recycle most of the early letters, but once I got to reading through a few, I realized they were gold for an erotica writer. One correspondent in particular seemed a perfect match for a character I’m developing in my novel. Both are older men who swerve dramatically between protestations of love and patronizing scolding of the younger women for our “ruthless” innocence. I hadn’t intended to model my character on an actual lover, but the emotional manipulation clearly impacted me back then, and I drew upon it to create a character who was both glamorous and frustrating. When I read the real letters from, let’s call him “Art,” I immediately thought, “This is just what my character Charles would do!”

So Art’s letters are not going into the recycling bin quite yet. Instead a voice from forty years ago will inspire a character living in my fictional world of a century past.

I will post a photo of the reassembled office next month so you can see the finished space. As for the manipulative older man—my character will now glow with authenticity. Of course everything is material for an erotica writer, but if you’re contemplating a deep office clean, you, too, may discover hidden voices from the past to enliven your writing.

About the Author Donna George Storey

Donna George Storey

I want to change the world one dirty story at a time.

When I posted this mission statement on my website, I hoped my cheeky ambition would make my readers smile. I smile every time I read it myself. And yet I’m totally serious. I truly believe that writers who are brave enough to speak their truth about the erotic experience in all its complexity—the yearning, the pleasure, the conflicts, and the sweet satisfaction—do change the world for the better.

So if you’re here at ERWA because you’re already writing erotica, a big thank you and keep on doing what you’re doing. If you’re more a reader than a writer, I encourage you to start dreaming and writing and expressing the truth and magic of this fundamental part of the human experience in your own unique voice. Can there be a more pleasurable way to change the world?

I'm the author of Amorous Woman, a semi-autobiographical erotic novel set in Japan, The Mammoth Book of Erotica Presents the Best of Donna George Storey  and nearly 200 short stories and essays in journals and anthologies. Check out my Facebook author page at:



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    At one point, I discarded a big pile of letters from lovers, feeling that I didn’t want to live in the past. Now I really regret that decision!

    • Donna George Storey

      I’m sure the important aspects of those letters are still there with you. There is something to be said for letting go of the past. I’m trying to do that for the most part with the big house cleaning and it feels pretty good!

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