According to Wikipedia, “Erotic literature comprises fictional and factual stories and accounts of human sexual relationships which have the power to or are intended to arouse the reader sexually.”
That definition works for me, but what the official definition doesn’t capture is the lengthy history of erotica as an honourable art form going back all the way back to ancient Egypt.
The Egyptians have provided us with the very first recorded evidence of story-telling in written form. While most people have seen the famous symbolic depictions on papyrus, did you know that hieroglyphs are also our first source of erotica? The Turin Papyrus were, for many years, hidden from public view, restricted only to scholars due to their ‘shocking’ content. But what we know now is that these papyrus depicted the sexual and romantic lives of the Egyptians in great detail.
What I especially love about this is the level of craftsmanship that went into their story-telling. In the digital age—or even just the age of the printing press—we take for granted our ability to share the written word with a broad audience. But imagine the painstaking care that went into telling just a brief story in the Egyptian, Mayan, or even Medieval periods?
Today, the computer and the internet have made worldwide distribution just a click away, but I feel strongly that as writers of erotica we have a responsibility with care and respect, just as though we were writing on papyrus.