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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Conform or Break the Rules?

Now that one of my stories - The Hero's Son - is getting closer and closer to being a real book, I am questioning whether or not to publish it as an ebook. The reason WHY is that in the ENTIRE story, there is ONE (and a half) scene that is relatively graphically descriptive sexually. The rest of the book could be considered E for everyone, but that scene firmly puts it in the OT (Older Teen) category. I'm fine with that, but as I reread the scene a couple of time, I realized that it might be a little TOO graphic even for an OT audience.

I got confused because I have read plenty of things rated OT which contained fairly descriptive sex scenes. So I asked for some perspective on a forum dedicated to Young Adult Fiction and GLBTQ. Would this be allowed?

The answer was basically yes and no. Sex is allowed in books aimed at teens, but it needs to be mainly off page OR integral to the story. I consider the scene integral, and since I am not considering using a standard publisher, I don't have to worry about conforming to their standards.

Even so, I'm thinking that for the actual ebook, I might tone the scene down a tad because... well, because parents might read the book and object to the whole thing based on one short scene!

Here's the funny thing in my mind: Parents were divided into two camps: One didn't care about the sex content of what their teens read. Many acknowledged that their teens will purposely read adult books just for the sex scenes, and don't feel the need to censor what they read. The other half of parents were like: no, all sex should be off page - meaning you can say things like: "We kissed and then we went to bed and had sex." But you can't describe the specific details.

As for the teens who answered my question, they were all like: "Why not? If we don't want to read the sex, we'll just skip it."

SO, what I'm getting from this is that as a self published author, I could simply leave the scene as is and put a warning on the book, and then let the reader decide if they want to read it or not. Also, it's a really short and to the point scene, so it's not like I suddenly added 10 pages of hardcore erotica to a YA book. It's not going to be a big deal.

Moving on, as I was researching this topic, I came across a couple of people in other threads that mentioned that there were a few books that contained erotica between teenagers. I was curious because I have written quite a bit of erotica featuring teenagers, so I wanted to know if this was a sub-genre that I could market.

My answer was a resounding no! This contradicted the stated fact that there are some out there, apparently. The reasoning is that for legal reasons, NO ONE wants to publish stories featuring people under the age of 18 having sex. Like erotic, get you horny sex. A self publisher could, but runs the risk of getting into trouble with Amazon or whomever they use to sell their books.

SIGH! I understand that basically no one wants that that one pitbull-like troll who gets off on causing trouble to sue for "offensive" content, but here's what I don't get:

This is America, land of the supposed free, such as freedom of speech and the press - which therefore includes the written word. I can point to quite a few examples of work originally created in Japan that contains fairly graphic pictures of sex (not actually showing penetration, but you can easily see what's going on) that is considered suitable for Older Teens that IS SOLD HERE! Obviously my writing an erotic scene is less offensive than someone drawing pictures of it.

Also, I know that there are plenty of people who understand that all erotica is FANTASY, and actually enjoy reading the "Taboo" stuff. I've had readers ASK me to write fantasies that could pretty much get me thrown in jail if I actually did them in real life! The point of reading and writing about them is to express the forbidden things in a way that harms no one.

So, getting back to the Japanese created works that do contain sex. It was said that the reason it's okay for them to do that is that their culture is not so repressed when it comes to sex. It's considered natural and normal. Not taboo. Personally, having studied the culture quite a bit myself, I think it's actually more like they expect such a high level of politeness and respect from everyone that they know that one of the ways to provide an outlet for the taboo things is to make it part of their literature and television. The people can live it vicariously rather than in person.

Lastly, people mentioned that everything has become over-sexed. That our society has become degenerate because sex is everywhere. That's one of the reasons parents are SO insistent that their teens literature is sex free, because they don't want to encourage their kids to have sex. Period. I think this is a mistake. That by saying: "Avoid sex!" the teen is then bombarded with the sex that sells and has no responsible role models when it comes to sex.

I think that if teens were encouraged to read books that considered sex sacred and something to be done ONLY when they want to for very clear reasons - I don't judge the reasons, I just think the teens should be absolutely clear on WHY they want to do it before doing it. Maybe then girls will stop having sex because they were pressured into it or thought that it might make them popular or get them child-support.

Sad to say, but yes, I have heard plenty of girls equate the risk of getting pregnant as no big deal because the baby daddy would have to take care of them by giving them money. Yeah... Way to discourage unsafe sex...

Not!

The point of all of this is that I have had my head spinning for days. Do I conform to social expectations, OR do I break the rules and go my own way. Past experience - EXTENSIVE past experience - has taught me that going my own way is SO much harder. All it would take is one Prudy Pitbullish Troll to review my book - assuming that I take the sex out and conform - and say that while my book is okay, my blog has "child porn" galore on it! I would then be judged based on repressive moral standards and only those readers who are actually looking for child porn would read my book... and then be disappointed and give me a bad review based on that, sigh...

I'm just struggling right now with this: Do I want to cave in to the (largely imaginary) pressure to fit into society and write according to the rules? OR do I want to continue to push the taboos and pray that no one comes after my ass in the long run?

To be honest, I WANT to be different. To stand out and boldly say that books should not fit in one - or even several - narrowly defined boxes (genres). However, I DON'T want to be labelled as a bad author across the board because I have a wide variety of stories and some of them don't mesh well with the others. AKA be judged on ALL my works based off of ONE that offends someone.

Grr! Now I'm just ranting in circles. Sorry!

Thanks for reading and have a happy day :-)
Roxanne

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