Starting an Erotic Writing Group
I wish that for other groups, they discover within themselves and each other a wild mystery, an untamed imagination.
Imagine meeting each month with a circle of older women as co-creators, joining together to celebrate our power and creativity. What could be more fun, and more liberating, than that? And there is no reason – none – why you and your friends, and your friends-to-be, should not have that in your life.
When we explore erotic writing from our vantage point as older women, we draw on a rich life experience. We can look honestly at what we desire, and how our desires have played out through our lives. Writing solo is great, because we become visible to ourselves through writing. We learn what we want and who we are by seeing our reflection on the page. And then we grow more fully into our real selves by sharing with our writing sisters.
I was inspired to write erotica after reading an article in the New York Times Book Review by an older erotica writer who suggested when older women write that they make their protagonists younger if they wanted their work published. Needless to say, that did not sit well with me, or with my friends of ‘a certain age’. In fact the idea was so repugnant that I decided there and then to start writing erotica. When Lynx Canon started a monthly reading called Dirty Old Women at a salon in Oakland, CA, I swallowed hard and read a piece, and it was well received! The die was cast; I wrote more and wanted the support and companionship of similar minded women on the adventure. We formed a group called Elderotica as a metaphorical nose-thumbing to cultural attitudes about age and erotica.
When we thought about starting an erotic writing group, subsequently called Elderotica in 2016, we were careful to set up feedback agreements that enabled each of us to feel safe sharing vulnerable writing. Everyone in the group agreed to provide only positive feedback on first drafts, and when it was time to share everyone had the right to pass on reading their work without question. We explored ways to entice our muse through writing prompts and structured writing. And, for inspiration, we looked at the canon of erotic literature already written by older women. The result was a creative sisterhood that still thrives almost four years after it began. Many terrific stories and poems, based on our lives and our fantasies, have come form this group. That joyful experience of sharing our writing in group, that wild mystery we found in one another, is an opportunity I wish were available to older women everywhere. It can be, you can be a part of that movement!
Now let’s think big. Imagine if every city had a group like that. Imagine if, no matter where you lived, you could find a circle of women writers who would laugh with you at the foibles of humanity and celebrate your untamed imagination. What a mutiny that would be against the invisibility of older women in our culture. What a foundation to express the wisdom and power of older women, as we focus on the well-being of the planet of which we are one small part.
It all begins with you. Whisper the word “erotica” to your friends, and see which ones perk up their ears. They do not need to have written before – the key is to play, without judgement, as a gateway to our creative selves. Share your writing with each other, praise what you like about it, and then explore character, plot, dialogue, in a spirit of playfulness. You can begin your group with one friend, and each of you can invite another friend to join you. If you would prefer to start solo, I’d recommend my latest book Aphrodite’s Pen: The Power of Writing Erotica After Midlife which covers all the topics that you need to get started. If you want a simpler, easier start you can try my Seven Day Sexy Writing Class – you will receive an email each day leading you through one aspect of writing a story. At the end of seven days you will have a complete first draft.
The purpose of an Elderotica writing group goes beyond the support and inspiration we share with one another, though that is reason enough. There is a purpose to why human females live so long after our reproductive years: to share what we know with the younger ones. This society does a poor job of heeding us, but we can help to awaken it. So many women in our fifties, sixties and beyond find that this is the happiest time of our lives, and when we let younger women in on that secret, it’s a blessing for them as well as for us. They can be our daughters, our granddaughters or other young women.
The Bay Area Elderotica writing group has had the opportunity to read in public for audiences that include younger adults, and we have heard back from many of them about the relief they feel when they learn of the joy and creativity in the years ahead. Too often, our popular culture leaves the mistaken impression that sex and sexuality ends at some arbitrary birthday. Storytelling has historically been the way to pass on education, our customs and our culture. By sharing and publishing our writing, we can enlighten younger adults and push back on the ageism and invisibility of women – especially older women – that harms us all.
This could be the start of a fun revolution: a celebration of older women’s vision and agency. Maggie Kuhn, a true mutineer and founder of the Gray Panthers, called for “learning and sex until rigor mortis.” Amen, sister. Let us wield Aphrodite’s pen and tell our stories to inspire ourselves and our generations to come. Join me. Please!