I traveled a lot this month. Mid-month, I was in New Orleans for Saints and Sinners.
I've been reflecting on my Saints and Sinners experience for a couple weeks because it was not as fulfilling of an experience as it has been in the past. The same issue arises every year, and it bothers me every year, but this time I can't set it aside.
There's an erotica panel every year at Saints and Sinners, with the same three people on it every time. They invite one new person to join them, but truly, it is their panel. It's not that those panelists aren't qualified, but they say the same things every year, and what they say is, "I don't read erotica because it doesn't interest me." My other favorite quote from two years ago was, "I don't read erotica because I only read good writing." This from erotica writers. I'm used to those slams from literary writers by now (and had to endure them during two master classes this time) but don't give much credence to the ignorant pronouncements of anyone who hasn't read my work before judging it. However, it appalls me to hear it from the erotica panel. Can you imagine the outcry if someone at a mystery panel said, "Genre novels are crap compared to literary novels, so I wouldn't be caught dead reading a mystery novel even though I write them?"
Further disappointment came from the erotica reading, which featured the same writers who sat on the erotica panel. Why not spread some of the love? How about maybe inviting writers who had stories in one of the Lambda Literary Award finalist anthologies in the erotica category, or an editor of one of those nominated anthologies? But no. Hell, they couldn't even be bothered to put those anthologies out on the bookstore table. Not one of them. So I came away a bit frustrated.
I'll go to Saints and Sinners next year, and I'll continue to contribute (quite a big check, actually), but for once, I'd like to come away with positive feelings about how erotica is handled.