UCT staffer writes to the occasion

28 May 2002

Who dunnit? A UCT Staff member, who writes under the name Sister Innocenta, is one of a group of writers who post their literary creations on LitNet, MWeb's multicultural on-line journal.

RETURNING to her home in the early evening, one UCT staff member – on completion of her domestic chores – dons guise and assumed name, and under the nom de plume of Sister Innocenta begins to produce from her seriously-in-need-of-an-upgrade PC works of erotic literature.

Sister Innocenta (her real name can not, at her request, be divulged) is one of a number of writers who, among their other literary creations, post their erotica on LitNet, M-Web's multi-cultural online journal, in a space designated Erotic literature (or hygliteratuur, as it is known in Afrikaans). She confides that she started this alternative writing career penning more salacious material.

Innocenta was approached by a colleague (Father Ignatius), who at the time was working on a piece for a pornographic website. While not a consumer of such writing, as she indicates in her piece on Telling it like it is, she produced a few tales, and to her surprise found herself with a sizeable fan club. Sister Innocenta, apparently, gets lots of email.

"It was quite funny because there were stories that had been dashed off quickly and that I thought had no literary merit at all, but clearly there's a huge (hhhhuuuuge) number of people who read this kind of thing," she says. "So I thought to myself that if that kind of stuff was so easy, it might be useful pursuing that genre, but actually combining it with decent writing as well, where phrases like 'breathless' don't feature so much."

She soon afterwards came across LitNet, which had a more literary approach and accepted some of her works. Sister Innocenta has since become a regular contributor to its electronic pages.

Erotica, argues Innocenta, is not very different from other writing. "You're always making decisions on what to leave in and what to leave out," she says. "With erotica what you're doing is just leaving in a little more, and filling out those aspects of your characters that often happen off the page. It's a more holistic take on the same thing, really."

There's also a clear difference between erotica and pornography, she contests. "Pornography reduces the context, characters and 'plot' to two dimensions, a cut-out background against which the sex act(s) can be played out. Erotica, on the other hand, relies on the development and coming to life of its characters, its universe, its textures and moods."

Which is also why it is easy to detect the difference in the writing of men – who use a stereotypical "shorthand" – and women in the genre, she says.

"Men's erotica – like their pornography – tends to focus on the actions rather than the motivations behind the actions, the feelings.

"With women's writing, on the other hand, there tends to be more of a sense of character."

And who does she write for? "When I write, I don't really think too much of any audience out there. I just have characters who do things and I document that."

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