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Tiah Beautement. Image from Twitter.

The call we published last week for a new anthology, Erotic Africa: The Sex Anthology, has seen remarkable reaction, all of it welcoming, excitement. This past week, Tiah Marie Beautement, co-founder of Short Story Day Africa and Managing Editor of The Single Story Foundation journal, offered her take on it. In a series of tweets, she explained how and if people writing erotica should approach potential readers. The illuminating tweets have now been collated into a post on her Website.

Read it below.

*

Africa is not a continent of prudes, and consequently, African writers sometimes write erotica. Hey, that’s great. As long as these “after dark” stories are about adults having safe and consensual naked time – write on. In fact, Brittle Paper is looking for erotica, should you be interested.

However, there is some basic etiquette involved when asking another writer to look at your erotic draft. Going about it the wrong way verges on – or IS! – sexual harassment.

1. Do Not Send Your Piece to Another Person without Asking First.

Ask the potential reader if they have time to read your work before sending it. Always. Even if your story isn’t erotica. Even if you sent them work before. You ask.

(Yes, there are exceptions, but they are rare. As in – I know about two people who I have a relationship with that would be okay with my just attaching the story and sending it along. Two.)

There is a person in my life who does this perfectly. I was once her mentor. That is over. But occasionally she asks if I can read a piece. Her emails tend to read in the following format:

Hi,
I hope you are well.

I am trying to write a piece for the (insert publication). My piece is (insert word count), is (insert fiction / non-fiction / poetry), and is about (insert two line summary).

Kind regards,
(name)

Do this.

2. If Somebody Agrees to Read Your Piece Do Not Ask Them if They Like or Enjoy Certain Sexual Activities.

That is none of your business, unless that person is actually your lover.

2b. Do Not Ask the Reader if They Think the Sexual Scenes Are Realistic

You are asking for feedback on your story. The person reading it will give you their thoughts on their terms. To do otherwise risks wandering into sexual harassment territory.

2c: Your Reader Is Not Your Research

If you are writing characters outside your personal experience, it is your job to research. Read, use the internet, read some more. But it is not your reader’s job to be your personal source of information.

Examples of inappropriate questions:

  • A writer asking a disabled person if they can have sex and how.
  • A writer asking a woman reader if it is realistic for a woman to demand cunnilingus.
  • A writer asking a gay man if it is normal to “switch” (the one who is penetrated vs the one penetrating).

To clarify:

It is fine to ask a writer with a disability to read your story involving a disabled character who has fab sex / bad sex / wants sex. But it is the reader’s choice what they feel comfortable commenting on. It is the reader’s choice if they want to share personal stories or their own research. You, dear writer, don’t get to ask.

Continue reading the post HERE.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, an academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review ("Mulumba," 2016), Transition ("A Tenderer Blessing," 2015), and in an anthology of the Gerald Kraak Award ("You Sing of a Longing," 2017), for which he was shortlisted. His work has further been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2016 and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. His conversations appear in Africa in Dialogue, Bakwa, SPRINNG, and Dwartonline. He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. The first, Enter Naija: The Book of Places (October 2016), focuses on Nigerian cities. The second, Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (June 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. He studied history and literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is currently completing a postgraduate programme in African Studies, and teaches English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. When bored, he just Googles Rihanna.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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