"What are you writing?" "NOTHING"
November 1, 2010 10:50 PM   Subscribe

Should I write porn? What are the risks involved?

So, I think I might enjoy writing porn. I've read a lot of stuff on sites like Literotica, and found myself thinking "I could do this. I would LIKE to do this!" But what if someone found out?

If there is a chance of someone in my life finding out about this, I'd rather not do it. When it comes to sex I am very private, and the sorts of things I'd be writing about, I might not even tell a boyfriend about... it's way more kinky than I am in real life. The idea of a friend knowing my private sexual thoughts is mortifying.

So, if I want to do this, how can I shield my identity? Is this even a good idea, given my probable reaction to being caught? (fwiw, I own my own computer.)
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Lots of people write porn/erotica. I'm not sure of the exact mechanics of doing so in a public manner while keeping it disconnected from your real life identity, but clearly that's something people do.

That said, if you are so concerned about people finding out, you should probably keep your writings private. If you own your own computer, just save your work locally and come up with some kind of super secret code (i.e. hide the files in a weird place, give them an incongruous name only you would understand, etc.), and then don't tell anyone about it. If other people occasionally borrow your computer, make sure your writing software is closed when you finish with it. If you give your computer away when you replace it, make sure to completely wipe everything.
posted by Sara C. at 11:06 PM on November 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

You can certainly do this especially if you are just sharing these stories on a site like Literotica. Maintaining anonymity is much harder if you were going to get these works published or if you were going to try to sell them yourself.

The thing that will give you the most bang for the buck in terms of online privacy is to signup to Literotica with a username that is completely unique in terms of your other identities and sign up with an e-mail account that you use expressly for this purpose. Then this e-mail address and this username are only used for your amateur writing career. Follow this rule and you will cut out a lot of chances for other parts of your real life to bleed over into your "scandalous life".
posted by mmascolino at 12:00 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's one school of thought that says never post anything online that you wouldn't be happy having your parents/friends/children/general public/etc knowing. Are there things you can do to minimize the risk of anyone connecting your online porn writing to you? Absolutely. And, as far as I can tell, there are a number of people that write porn/erotica online without their "real" identities ever being discovered, or at least becoming common knowledge. One complicating factor is many writers seem to seek an audience or even seek active participation in online communities, beyond just the writing itself. That can lead to forming more personal relationships with readers and other participants and, perhaps without even meaning to, disclosing personal details about yourself. That's something to watch out for.

But, while writing into a vacuum and not engaging with others may be safer, it can be unsatisfying (is anyone reading my work? what do they think? what do other writers think? am I improving?). There are also technical measures you can take, like separate and unconnected email accounts all the way up to paranoid and tedious things like anonymous proxy servers accessed only through open wireless networks, never your own network, with MAC address masking.

And ultimately, while there are many ways to minimize risk, there is no way to eliminate it entirely, and there's always the possibility, however remote, of your writing being linked to you. If you want 100% risk-free this probably isn't for you, but you can do it in a pretty safe manner. Unless you think you might some day have political aspirations. Then it would be wisest to never post erotica online.
posted by 6550 at 12:05 AM on November 2, 2010

Of course, there was that doctor in the UK who was not only anonymously a prostitute, but wrote about it, had a tv show made about it and wasn't found out until she decided it was time. So it's quite possible to remain unknown but still make money off of it.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 4:07 AM on November 2, 2010

The risk is extremely low when you write for an online site, since everyone writes under a pseudonym.

An anecdote: a friend from years ago wrote erotica, and was good enough to get it published in book form, under the exacting editorial standards that applied in those times. He used a pseudonym. Someone at the publisher, though, included his real name on one of the facing pages.
posted by megatherium at 4:08 AM on November 2, 2010

Go for it. Store the files locally using TrueCrypt.
posted by pyro979 at 5:07 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just use a pseudonym when you write.

Eventually, you might even be okay (and I speak from personal experience) telling your closest friends that you write erotica, though if you are like me you won't want to point out your work specifically to them.

Usually, the response you will get is an envious, "Wow, I wish I had the guts/talent/creativity to do something like that!" My husband reported that when he mentioned what I did to some of his very closest friends, they were envious of him, too.

So, unless you are a teacher or professional child-care provider, work for the CIA/FBI, etc., I think you will be just fine!
posted by misha at 9:32 AM on November 2, 2010

The porn publisher I'm familiar with (Circlet Press semi-self-link as I'm a stockholder) is totally cool with people publishing under pseudonyms.

BTW, more and more publishers are offering ebook porn (such as Ravenous Romance). I think the romance/erotica market is adopting ebooks far faster than mainstream publishing.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:11 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I work for an erotica publisher. (Ellora's Cave.) We have several levels of confidentiality--they start at "I'm writing under my real name, and I'm cool with everyone knowing that" and go right on through "I'm in deep lurk, and no one but the publisher and my editor should know my real name". Hell, we have some authors who have several pen names and have a different security level, such as it is, for each of them.

Writing for any reputable site or publisher is, in my experience, as safe as you want it to be.
posted by MeghanC at 11:02 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

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