I said take me to the dance
Do you want to dance?
I love to dance
And I told him They don’t take chances
They seem so removed from romance
“In France They Kiss on Main Street” https://jonimitchell.com/music/song.cfm?id=192
Joni Mitchell, the Canadian poetess/songwriter, was a big influence on me growing up. Lately, I’ve been revisiting her work, marveling anew at her ability to capture emotions in song – especially the emotions of love and lust. They’re not the same thing, and she knows it. Perhaps the clearest indication of this is in her song “Coyote”:
There’s no comprehending
Just how close to the bone and the skin and the eyes
And the lips you can get
And still feel so alone
And still feel related
Like stations in some relay
When you’re young, though – especially when you’re young, though I guess not exclusively – it’s pretty hard to sort out the difference. I vividly remember the hormone-augmented desire of my teens and twenties; I fell in love with everyone I had the hots for. Yes, I went through a lot of lovers, including not a few one night stands, but somehow I believed I loved them all. I dreamed about them. I wrote them poems. The physical was the beginning, but not the ending.
Other people might have called me promiscuous. I considered myself a romantic.
“In France They Kiss on Main Street” beautifully captures this confusion. It describes teenage wildness but labels it as “amour, not cheap display”, and crows about “kissing in the back seat, thrilling to the Brando-like things that he said”.
I’m an erotic author because I’m perennially interested in lust, love, and all the gradations that lie between. And to be honest, I find it much more interesting to mix a bit of romance in with raw desire. I’m hopeless at writing conventional find-your-soul-mate, forsaking-all-others, happily-ever-after romance. But I also get bored pretty quickly writing pure smut that chronicles physical sex with no emotional connection at all.
So a lot of my books and stories straddle the line between lust and love, breaking the rules of both monogamy and pornography. For instance, my current WIP, the third book in my steam punk Toymakers Guild series, has lots of outrageous and crazy sex scenes involving a multitude of male, female and intermediate characters. Nevertheless, it seems to be spiraling into a polyamorous love story.
Oh well. I guess I haven’t completely grown up after all.
On a side note, I remembered after I’d chosen a title for this post that there’s a Victorian erotica novel with the same name.
The Wikipedia article is pretty dismissive of the book. I haven’t read it, though at this point I pretty much have to download it from Gutenberg, just to check it out. However, aside from the comments about “emotional deprivation” from Steven Marcus (whose treatise I’ve read and whose opinions I generally disagree with), this novel sounds like something I might write.
Why am I not surprised?