I have a confession to make. I like rough sex. Well, I like to write about it, anyway. My sex scenes often tend toward the ferocious. Thrusts hard enough that they hurt, fast enough that you can barely catch your breath. Fingernails clawing flesh, even drawing blood. Relentless fucking that overwhelms the character on the receiving end. That's the sort of sex that turns me on, and that's the sort of sex I often write.
This preference is undoubtedly linked to my interest in dominance and submission. I find the notion of a lover "taking" me - taking me over, using me for his own pleasure as well as my own - to be highly erotic.
The sexual encounters in my M/M fiction, particularly, trend in this direction. My men are of course sometimes tender with one another, but at other times they're raging hulks of testosterone. This matches what I've seen in much of the gay erotica I've read - not erotic romance, but stories composed by gay men about their own sexuality. Men seem to enjoy more - shall we say, "forceful" - sex, even when they're with a lover as opposed to a casual contact.
So yesterday I was working on my M/M science fiction novel, Quarantine, and found myself writing one of those rough scenes I enjoy so much. Suddenly I froze. Was this too much? Was I going to turn off my target readers? Most readers of M/M erotic romance are women. Was my writing going to be too "raw" for them? Should I tone things down?
The thought pretty much halted any progress I'd been making. The scene in question involves virtual sex, basically futuristic porn. It's pretty brief, but necessary for the plot and for revealing character. I wondered whether I should ditch it anyway and find some other approach.
I started to worry about scenes between my two protagonists as well. Should I make them more gentle with one another? Was their hard loving going to lose me readers?
Then I realized then that I was censoring myself - and I know from experience that's generally not a good idea. If I were to scale back the intensity and ferocity of my sex scenes, I'd be faking it. Readers can tell when the emotion in a scene is genuine and when it's not. And long experience has taught me that scenes I find personally arousing are the ones that grab my readers, too.
Ultimately, I decided to leave the scene in. We'll see what the intended publisher thinks. If they want me to remove it, though, I just might submit the book elsewhere.
I'm curious about how my fellow authors feel about this issue. Do you censor yourself in order to get published? Do you think I should?