Moralising the Writer’s Imagination

124It is about 8 O’clock this beautiful Monday morning. I have less work on my desk at the office, so I decide to surf the web to start my day. Twitter is usually my first port of call every time I am less busy, followed by Facebook, my email accounts and then my favourite football site, GOAL. However, for some weird reason this Monday morning, I decide to start with Facebook. As my timeline/wall refreshes, the first post I see is Kiru Taye’s. It has something to do with her weekly Sexy Snippets. I click on the link, and after I am done digesting the erotic snippet from her forthcoming book, I cannot help but start pondering over erotica writers and their special type of art.

We all know sex is a beautiful thing, but writing about sex – writing about hot, steamy, groin-torturing, nipple-tightening, back-breaking, mind-boggling and above all, konji-provoking cum konji-curing sex scenes has got to be one of the most self-tormenting things ever, I think. Self-tormenting because, you write such curious scenes with just your imaginations to thank for a job well done. Or, wait. Do erotica writers actually experience what they write about? This was the question I threw open to Twitterverse after reading Kiru Taye’s snippet and guess what the feedback was? Almost every erotica writer/fan agreed that, writing konji-provoking erotica pieces had more to do with the writer’s ability to fantasize than with the writer’s experience.

The above revelation got me thinking: So all these “dirty” things you people write are a product of your mind? Ok. Kotinu.

I know it is generally agreed that, to be a good writer of any genre, you’ve got to have a very good imagination. Many great stories we read have nothing to do with the writers’ experience, but with their powerful imagination. I don’t imagine Mario Puzo was a mafia lord, neither do I think James Hadley Chase was a serial killer, but both men wrote the chilliest crime thrillers ever. However, just as there are positives for having a good imagination, there are also many negatives of telling powerful stories. For instance, Susan Quilliam, a British Psychologist says reading powerful romance stories can be a bad influence on women and can lead them to make poor health and relationship decisions as the novels give women unrealistic views about what to expect out of a relationship. I remember some few years back, there was this news about two 12-year-olds, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, who lured their classmate into the woods and stabbed her 19 times to prove ‘Slender Man’, a mythical figure in an online story was real.

This then begs the question: as a writer, to what extent should you allow your imaginations wander? I find myself asking this question because, many a time when I consider writing graphic stories (for example, writing a very graphic rape story or writing a very gory murder piece to expose the ills of the menace), my conscience would prick me to mellow on my choice of words. Why? Because the details of my imaginations are usually too disturbing. I am always reminded of one Bible portion or the other. For instance, Philippians 4:8 admonishes me to only think of things that are pure, honourable, just, lovely etc. Proverbs 23:7 reminds me that, as I think in my heart, so am I. The contents of Matthew 5:28 are tantamount to suggesting that, thinking about erotica things is a sin. Psalm 119:15 encourages me to only meditate on God’s words and His ways. Colossians 3:2 directs me to set my mind on heavenly things as against worldly stuff etc.

My dilemma with the above Biblical injunctions heightens whenever I remember that, God also demands that, I put the gift (s) He bestowed on me to good use. Remember the parables of the Talents in Matthew 25:14 – 30? I find myself questioning myself, “by refraining from telling this story as I imagine it, am I under-utilising this talent God gave to me?” “Would God be delighted that I am not telling this story as I should?” etc….

I know you could argue that, I can tell the story in a different way from my original imagination, but truth be told, some stories have to be told in their unadulterated, inspired manner and form to pass the desired message and effect.

To what extent should a writer let his imagination go? Should he limit it at all? Have you ever struggled with this moral question? How did you overcome it?




Konji – Slang for being horny

Kontinu – Slang for Continue

Chilliest – The extreme level of chill.