Humans are the animals who play throughout our lives.
And women’s lives are long, far longer than our reproductive years.
The world tries to sexualize girls too young and unsex women too early, yet many of us continue to celebrate our creative sexual power long after menopause.
As Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Gray Panthers, proclaimed: “Learning and sex until rigor mortis.”
So why write erotica after midlife?
The essence of writing is play: Playing with words, and also playing Goddess. Anything can and does happen on a page. Expressing our desires through story is joyful, creative and empowering—an especially delicious form of play. And, too, the community of women who write Elderotica is a marvelous sisterhood.
If you are new to writing erotica, you must first ask your Inner Critic to wait her turn. The first draft of any piece of creative writing should be pure play space, and that is even more important when we make ourselves vulnerable by writing erotica.
Second, call upon your Muse. You do have one, truly. Even if you’ve lost touch with her, she amuses herself in the basement of your mind, sending you dreams that make you laugh or leave you in wonder when you wake. Here are a few examples of ways to court her company.
- Set the Stage: When you write, wear your most outrageous earrings—the ones that proclaim you’re a sex goddess. Find a space and a time that is quiet, where you won’t be interrupted. Use your favorite pen and journal, or type in your very favorite font.
- Practice positive self-talk: Tell yourself that you are an imaginative writer. Remind yourself how brave you are to write erotica.
- Borrow from the Collective Muse: Choose a favorite erotic poem or story by an older writer, open to a page, and pick a sentence. Start with that prompt and go. If you don’t have a favorite, pick up Erica Jong’s anthology Sugar in My Bowl, or Susan Old’s Odes. Write out a sentence for inspiration and keep going.
Third, keep writing. Set the timer on your phone for fifteen minutes and go. Write quickly. If you can’t think what to write next, repeat the last sentence you wrote, and trust that the next sentence will arrive. Keep going, rapidly, without editing or second guessing, until the timer rings.
Fourth, love what you wrote, without judgment. We have been taught to criticize what we write, and there is a place for that—but not here. We are in First Draft Land, where negativity is suspended.
Fifth, turn this into a regular writing practice. Expand your time until you are writing an hour or more each day. Trust that with daily practice, your writing will change and you will change. You may always want to begin with a prompt, or you may not. As you mature as a writer, you’ll develop horizontally and vertically. The horizontal direction is the arc of a story: you will find that you are setting the scene and then moving into conflict and resolution, much like the crisis and resolution of making love. The vertical direction is the deepening into character and sensual setting. The older we are, the more we understand about human beings, and the more resonant our characters become. At our age we also cherish the sensual details of place: the colors and smells, the details of a room. Our stories have depth because we have lived. We remember and call upon much more than we think we know.
You may decide that your stories are only for your enjoyment, and if you do, they will empower you in ways that are important and unpredictable. Or you may join with other women past midlife, writing together and sharing your writing with one another, celebrating your continued passionate lives. You may share your writing even further, letting younger women know there is joy ahead, finding avenues for public readings or publication. Whatever path you choose with your erotic writing, the practice of writing will add to your power and creativity as an unfolding goddess.
Stella Fosse is an erotica writer, the author of Aphrodite’s Pen: The Power of Writing Erotica after Midlife, and a late bloomer whose erotic life blossomed in her late 50s. In 2016, Fosse and Lynx Canon founded a group for women over 50 called Elderotica Writers, with monthly meetings to share story writing and friendship. Fosse’s story “Terraforming,” about the friendship between a bookish woman in her 60s and a well-endowed cowboy, appeared in the 2017 anthology, Dirty Old Women, and she has read at the quarterly Dirty Old Women literary event in Oakland.
Stella’s collaborative project, The Palace of Wisdom, is based on an imaginary erotic spa in Big Sur for women over 50 and includes floor-plans, activities and rules, which she shares in workshops and online. Fosse advocates writing erotica as a great way for older women to push back on ageism and sexism. She is retired from a career in biotechnology and lives with her partner in North Carolina. Follow Stella at: StellaFosse.com, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Access a free writing course from Stella on developing a fully realized story here: https://page.stellafosse.com/pop_write.