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Insights from the Changing Room

(Some parts of this post were first posted on the ERWA blog Oct 2014)

 

Tuesday morning. 8:00. I just finished a brutal kettle bell workout. I’ve gone up in weight, and I’m seriously feeling the
love. I won’t even tell you what I look like as I walk into the shower room. Suffice to say it’s not a pretty sight. I don’t see much in my state of exhaustion. I fumble through my locker for my shower things and fresh clothes then stumble to the stall, where I strip off adjust the water and lean against the wall, wondering how I’m going to lift my arms to wash my hair.

 

I linger there because I can, because I work at home and home’s not going anywhere. All around me the changing room is a beehive of activity and my sense of smell is overwhelmed by myriad scents of deodorant, shower gel and various other olfactory efforts to disguise the scent of humans. Most of my fellow gym-goers have stopped in for an early workout before they head to work.

 

Once I’m clean, I join the ranks of the frantic in the changing room. While I admire the women of all shapes and sizes who seem completely comfortable being naked in front of everyone, I’m embarrassed to say, I’m not one of them. I’m fit. I’m strong, and I look good enough that people can tell I work out. But my body shows the wear and tear of being my vessel for a lot of years. It has served me well through the abuse of the youth I thought would be endless. Better still, it has (and still does) allowed me to experience some truly marvelous adventures and some amazing loving. At some point I’ve come to accept that I’ll never look like I’m twenty again. And the sad truth is that I was far less satisfied with my body when I was twenty than I am now.

 

The gym I go to is unpretentious, and it has a great mix of all ages and of people who are fit and people who are brave enough to thrust themselves into an environment where they can become fit. Most, like me, will know the joy of what becoming fit does to all other avenues of life. I’ve not come to that knowledge late in life, I’ve always felt more myself when I’m strong and healthy. BUT fitness and health rarely translate to the washboard abed, bulging biceped males we see posed on the covers of erotic novels nor the high, firm breasted, rounded bottomed women who frolic on the pages in between those covers.

 

Even now, as I watch woman unselfconsciously flitting around the changing room with pert tits and exquisite arses naked or in sexy underwear as they blow-dry their lush long manes and make themselves up to perfection, my stubborn brain is green with envy. This morning there seems to be a larger than normal bevy of pert breasts, tight bottoms and flowing locks as I slink to my locker and dress as quickly as I can so no one will notice that my tits are not that perky. As for my arse, well, do to a genetic trait in my family, I don’t actually HAVE an arse. I’ve spent my entire life tugging up my trousers and sitting on bone and gristle.

But I digress. As I shove into my clothes and run a quick comb through wet hair, not lingering for a good coiffing nor to put on the make-up I seldom wear, I can’t help feel that I should apologize for being neither coiffed nor pert. The nasty voice in the back of my head, says ‘at your age, who cares?’  And I protest that I look pretty damned good for my age. In truth, no one in the changing room notices anyone else, and no one judges in the frantic effort to get to work on time. My only judge is me, and sadly, I’m a bit harsh at times.

 

God! I battle those internal voices all the time. You’d think I’d get past them at some point. But I don’t. You’d think that writing characters who are less pert and less wash-boardy would be my way of shaking my fist at heaven, of cursing the fact that at my age – god how I despise that phrase! It feels like a “get out of jail free” card for every shortcoming that I had no excuse for when I was younger because I have now reached that magical age – whatever the hell that might be. BUT I digress again! Here’s the shocking truth. I don’t look twenty-five anymore. You’d think I’d make sure my characters don’t look it either. But nooooo! I constantly toy in my imagination with characters who may not exactly look like they live in a gym, but on the other hand, seeing them naked would be close enough to chocolate for the eyes to make my mouth water.

 

All good characters need a life beyond looking hot, otherwise they’re boring, and the only thing worse than a character with flabby abs and a flat arse is a character whose biceps or tits are the most interesting thing about them. I confess, I write what I wish was so. I write what I’m convinced readers wish was so. I write who we wish we could be, and who we wish would be so attracted to us that they’d lose sleep obsessing about shagging us senseless. I write charactersthat look like youth has decided to linger awhile longer with them than it does with most of us. Of course I’m happy to throw in some good genetics for nicely rounded bottoms and a proper amount of pertness. I write nice bodies, AND do my best to make them interesting too. I WANT IT ALL!

 

I live vicariously through the characters I write. Through them my tits are perfect and my arse is magnificent.

Through them, I am the obsession of the wounded hero who is both intelligent and a fine specimen of manliness. Are all these a sign of my neurotic shallowness? Or are they, perhaps a sign that I’m old enough to recognize what I’ve lost, what I’ve left behind. I’m old enough to understand the price everyone pays for living in a body long enough to experience enough life with all of its joys and sorrows and bashings about to look a little worse for the wear. I’m old enough to know that what I don’t reveal in the changing room at the gym says enough about the wounded character that I am, says enough about my numerous and openly admitted neuroses to remind me again that the sweetest things aren’t pert nor washboarded, nor nicely rounded. The sweetest things are all the experiences in between the best my body was when I was twenty and the best my body is now. Am I making excuses? Perhaps. Would I still like to be pert and properly rounded? Hell yes! Is my reality and the fantasies I create as a writer any less textured and rich because of the lack? The truth is, that it’s probably richer for my flat butt and semi-pert tits. But perhaps I only say that as a way of compensating for my envy of youth and beauty.

 

On the other hand the place inside me that lives to fantasize, to create, the place inside me that lives for story isn’t subject to the passing of years. And what comes out of that part of me is, more often than not, a way of dealing with my darkness, my self-doubts, my occasional tango with self-loathing. It’s my way of reconstructing them into something that feels better against the raw places, the places that are afraid and uncertain. It’s a way of being less cowardly in the knowing that I, like everyone, must deal with my own mortality as best I can. And sometimes the best way is writing stories with heroes who have nice abs and even nicer pecs and heroines who are round and tight in all the right places. Strange that I never actually see those characters, those fine specimens of physicality, in my mind’s eye, though I know that some writers do. But I feel them from the inside out. That way I know that they’re, in some ways, a testament to my irrational need to be forever young and yet at the same time to cling to the experiences that seldom happen in youth, but are always required to make us more than a collection of body parts that are pert today and sagging tomorrow.

 

Urgency V Bluebells

There are deadlines. There are rewrite, there are new stories waiting to be written. There is housework – ironing, vacuuming, dusting. There’s gardening – sweet corn to get into the bed before the weather changes, weeding to be done, bulbs to get in. There’s the pile of stuff I never got done that comes back to kick my “good girl” conscious in the butt in the middle of the night. Every damn thing is urgent! And the older I get the more urgent it all seems.

 

 

Urgent is easy to confuse with doing it all and doing it well. Urgent, in my head, is my failure to do just that. Urgent all too quickly can lead to feeling completely overwhelmed.

 

 

Urgent, however, is at its best when it’s lived out in the moment, lived out in the present, lived out in only this glorious second. And there’s no better place to be reminded of that than smack dab in the middle of a bluebell wood.

 

 

Mr. Grace and I did our first long walk of the spring on Friday and went up to the Chantry Wood to check out the bluebells, which are gloriously early this year. Yes, there was gardening to do. Yes, it meant I left the ironing undone and the read-through I was working on unfinished. Yes, we did it anyway. We took a picnic in our rucksacks and a flask of tea and off we went – for the entire day.

 

 

 

We were more than well-rewarded with bluebells and bird song and a soft breeze through the trees. We feasted our eyes on downland views that we’ve seen a million times, and yet every time we see them, they’re different. For a whole day, nothing was urgent. Everything was present in a single moment in a bluebell wood.

 

 

Flaws

I’m thinking about flaws today, which is not unusual, since I’m smack-dab in the middle of a month long promo for The Tutor. The Tutor is written from the standpoint of flaws — the hero, Lex Valentine, is haphephobic, and can’t tolerate being touched or touching anyone. The heroine is great at giving advice on having a happy sex life, but does not have a good track record where relationships is concerned. I don’t think I’ve ever written a novel in which the flaws of the characters play such central roles in the story that unfolds.

 

I’m not saying that I don’t want a strong hero. Of course I do. I want strong, sexy, intelligent, creative. I want it all! But I’m saying that there’s something about the stuff that both the hero and the heroine keep hidden, the stuff that they don’t really want me, or my readers, to see that makes me want to embrace them and love them, that makes me remember them long after the novel is over. Strange that it should be the character traits that are intended to keep other characters at arms length that make them most endearing and give the reader the clearest view of who they really are.

 

I suppose it’s the need to identify with as much as anything. I mean, lets face it, we all put ourselves in the story as we read it. We all become, in some way, the characters we read about. And if we do it as readers, I promise that we writers do it even more. Living vicariously is the name of the game for us, whether we’re reading or whether we’re writing. That means that I need to be able to relate with those characters and, to be honest, perfection is not very relatable.

 

Of course we want our heroes to be larger than life, to live beyond what our everyday work-a-day world offers, to have adventures and mad, passionate, filthy sex, and in the end to win the day and get the love they deserve. I’m speaking of romance here, of course, because that’s what I write. I need to have romance in any story I’m writing because I’m a romantic to the core and I need to believe that love will prevail.

 

But I also need to believe that love will prevail in spite of our flaws, that it isn’t our beauty that makes us loveable, but something much deeper, something that struggling to live with those flaws creates – the oyster making the irritating grain of sand into a pearl, if you will. The flaws in characters are a touchstone to their humanity and to their relatability as well as an opportunity for them to do battle with themselves, an opportunity to overcome. Those flaws are also the opportunity to answer the big question in all romance – is the hero worthy of unconditional love, and can the heroine give it to him and facilitate either the healing he needs or the acceptance he needs to come to grips with those flaws and except them as a part of who he or she is?

 

 

Flaws make stories multi-dimensional in a way an external battle alone never can. Granted, an external battle is a fantastic way to bring character flaws to the surface.  In a story or in real life, it’s how those flaws are dealt with in the external battles that keep readers (and writers) on the edge of their seats and reading or writing until the transformation happens. And sometimes the transformation is simply the acceptance of self. In fact more often than not, the internal battles are characters’ struggle to move beyond denial and accept who they are. Often that involves coming to the understanding that someone else, someone they have come to care about, has also accepted them and values them for who they are. Isn’t that really what love is all about?

 

 

The Tutor Blurb:

Struggling writer, Kelly Blake has a secret life as a sex tutor. Celebrated sculptor and recluse, Alexander ‘Lex’ Valentine, can’t stand to be touched. When he seeks out Kelly’s advice incognito, the results are too hot to handle. When Kelly terminates their sessions due to what she considers her unprofessional behavior, Lex takes a huge risk, revealing his identity to her at a gala exhibition, his first ever public appearance. When Kelly helps the severely haphephobic Lex escape the grope of reporters and paparazzi, rumors fly that the two are engaged, rumors encouraged by well-meaning friends and colleagues. The press feeding frenzy forces Kelly into hiding at Lex’s mansion where he convinces her to be his private tutor just until the press loses interest, and she can go back home. They discover quickly that touch is not essential for sizzling, pulse-pounding intimacy. But intimacy must survive the secrets uncovered as their sessions become more and more personal.

 

Buy The Tutor Here:

 

eBook:
Totally Bound Publishing
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon AU
Amazon CA
Amazon DE
Barnes & Noble
iBooks UK
iBooks US
Google Books
Kobo

Print:
Totally Bound Publishing
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

Lex Valentine: Do NOT Touch!

 

Yup! It’s week two and The Tutor is still only 99c/p. As promised, I’m going to give you tastey tidbits and titillating insights into Lex and Kelly’s world. Monday’s a good day to start at the beginning.

 

We have five senses. We use them all without thinking, but as a writer, I’ve always been intrigued by what it would be like to live without one – one that we use most often. If you’ve read The Initiation of Ms. Holly, then you know the story hinges on not being able to see the face of a lover. In To Rome with Lust, I concentrated on bringing the sense of smell to the forefront to the point of it being nearly a curse.

 

In The Tutor, I take away the one sense that we never lose, the one we most rely on in our everyday life. I take away the sense of touch. Sculptor, Lex Valentine is severely haphephobic — not being able to touch anyone else or allow himself to be touched. Within that context, I wanted to explore intimacy and how it would develop – if it even could develop – without the aid of human contact.

 

 

 

The Tutor Blurb:

Struggling writer, Kelly Blake has a secret life as a sex tutor. Celebrated sculptor and recluse, Alexander ‘Lex’ Valentine, can’t stand to be touched. When he seeks out Kelly’s advice incognito, the results are too hot to handle. When Kelly terminates their sessions due to what she considers her unprofessional behavior, Lex takes a huge risk, revealing his identity to her at a gala exhibition, his first ever public appearance. When Kelly helps the severely haphephobic Lex escape the grope of reporters and paparazzi, rumors fly that the two are engaged, rumors encouraged by well-meaning friends and colleagues. The press feeding frenzy forces Kelly into hiding at Lex’s mansion where he convinces her to be his private tutor just until the press loses interest, and she can go back home. They discover quickly that touch is not essential for sizzling, pulse-pounding intimacy. But intimacy must survive the secrets uncovered as their sessions become more and more personal.

 

 

 

 

Do Not Touch! — The Tutor Excerpt:

“Get out! Get the hell out now! Dillon! Dillon get this bloody woman out of here!” Lex managed to keep his knees locked and his feet under him until the blasted model, robe slung hurriedly around her, clothes and bag bundled in her arms, was out the door and out of his sight, then he collapsed in a heap, the floor coming up to meet him with a breath-jarring thud – not that he could breathe anyway, not at the moment at least. The room spun around him like a tilt-a-whirl at an amusement park, and his skin slickened with cold sweat. He knew the fucking drill by now, but it never got any easier, and never got any better, not even when he was expecting it, and he sure as hell hadn’t been expecting it this time. As he fought back nausea and vertigo and several other little unpleasantries his doctor had slapped labels on so long ago that he couldn’t recall their names, he heard his PA passing the horrid model, who was now blubbering as though she were the injured party, off to V. Officially, V may have been just the housekeeper, but he and Dillon had long contended she was an alien sent from her distant planet to study earth and see if there was intelligent life. The Valentine House, they joked, was probably not the ideal place to succeed in her mission. Still the woman had persevered. They figured it was only because of her alien intellect and a sense of humor that allowed her to handle all the insanity with grace and aplomb.

Which was way more than he could manage at the moment, lying with his cheek pressed hard against the cool slate tiles of his studio, listening to the rush of footsteps and the woman’s nearly hysterical sobs as V – her name was Vida, but they’d always called her V, calmly led her away to someplace where she could change, have something warm to drink and maybe a bit of whatever Cookie had baked that day. After that, she’d be paid well for her traumatic efforts, politely reminded of the non-disclosure agreement she had signed before she came to model for Lex, and sent on her way. She would not be back.

Another treacherous tilting of the floor and a quick spin of the room had Lex praying to the gods of equilibrium and dignity that he could at least manage to keep his breakfast down. Though dignity was already well gone, he thought. Cautiously, he half opened one eye, and got a quick glimpse of a well polished pair of loafers before he slammed it shut again and decided there was wisdom in holding his fetal position on the studio floor for just a little bit longer, after all, Dillon had seen him in far worse situations.

“You gonna be all right?” Dillon asked softly.

Lex made some non-committal sound at the back of his throat – about all he could manage at the moment. He heard the brisk clip, clip of Dillon’s loafers across the slate, then the sound of running water and the footfalls of his return, and when Lex could smell the spicy dark scent of his PA’s soap, he risked reaching out for the glass of water, he knew the man had set down next to him.

“Anything else?” Dillon asked. “Do you need to throw up?”

“No. I’ll be fine,” he said, easing himself ever so carefully into a sitting position, still holding onto the floor with one hand and keeping one eye shut. He took a cautious sip of water. “She touched me,” he managed after he felt confident the water would stay down.

“I gathered.” Dillon said, settling on the floor next to him.

“She came up behind me while I was finishing up the sketch. Honestly I thought she was gone. She was supposed to be gone. And then she … Jesus, Dillon, the next thing I know, she’s all over me, and she was cold, so fucking cold.” For a second he thought he might change his mind about throwing up after all as, with a hard shudder, he recalled the chill of the woman’s bare flesh against him. “And I couldn’t get away from her. I couldn’t get her to leave me alone, and she was cold, she was just so cold.”

“Fuck, bro! I’m so damn sorry,” Dillon said. “I was just outside in the hallway. It all happened so fast.” The studio door was always kept open and, when Lex worked with a model, someone was always close by. But there had never been an incident before so protocol had gotten lax.

“I mean what the hell? I swear I didn’t do anything to make her think … I mean I wouldn’t. You know I wouldn’t.”

“I know that, man. I know that. Besides, she knew the rules. They all know the rules before they work with you.” He stood and looked around the room until he found the blanket Lex kept handy for models to wrap up in between sketches and on breaks, then laid it on the floor next to him and plopped back down. Lex pulled it around him with a shiver. Even in early summer, the studio was fairly cool and models were warned ahead of time that Lex preferred to work in an unheated space. “There’s just something about a vulnerable man that sort of gets the female of the species right here.” Dillon tapped his palm against his chest. “Makes ‘em want to get all nurturing and rescuey, you know?”

“I don’t look vulnerable. Do I look vulnerable to you? And I don’t need nurtured or rescued.”

“Trust me,” Dillon said, “you don’t have to be vulnerable for them to see you that way. And let’s face it; there you stand, the long suffering artist with that mussed hair and just the right amount of stubble like maybe you just got out of bed, and they start thinking maybe it should be them you just got out of bed with. Hell, bro, I’d be after you myself if I wasn’t your best friend.” He shrugged, “and if you were a little more versatile in your preferences.”

“Too damn bad I’m not, pal. It would sure make my life a whole lot easier.”

“Oh, I doubt it,” Dillon said with a shake of his head, and the smile on his face darkened. “I seriously doubt it.”

Dillon knew about complications in relationships. He knew way more than he ever told, Lex was sure. But at least Dillon could have a relationship.

“Is he all right?” there was a clatter of dishes and silver and V blew into the room with a tray loaded down like it was mealtime. “He didn’t throw up did he?” The two of them always talked about him as though he were their seriously ill patient who had lost all cognitive skills.

“No, he didn’t throw up,” Lex managed a fair imitation of her voice that earned him a jaundice look, but nothing else. If he didn’t throw up, V fed him. If he did, she waited an hour and then fed him. He grudgingly admitted that Dillon and V together knew exactly what he needed and they didn’t let him intimidate them out of it.

“Well then, he needs something warming to ground him. Cookie’s potato leek soup and a nice cup of chamomile tea is just the ticket,” she said, plopping down on the floor next to the two of them, managing, to his astonishment, not to spill either soup or tea in the process. Once seated, she efficiently poured tea as though they were at the dining room table rather than plunked down on the studio floor discussing his unexpected close encounter with said floor and what should now be done about it.

“I’m not hungry.” But he grudgingly spooned up some soup and swallowed it back just to make her leave him alone. He had to admit it tasted pretty damn good, so he had another one while they went right on talking about him as though he weren’t there.

“Well I can certainly understand why the poor woman thought he needed a little cuddling,” V said. “Look at how pale he is. He’s the epitome of the suffering artist.” She eyeballed the soup and then him with a gesture that needed no words, so he shoveled in another bite. “But I really thought Ms. Philips was a keeper. I thought she understood the ground rules and would abide by them. Poor dear was ever so upset when I left her with Cookie. I’m sure she’ll never do it again.”

“She won’t because she won’t get the chance,” Lex said, this time dropping the spoon back onto the tray with a loud clatter. “I can’t run that risk.” Besides, he didn’t want to try and sketch someone who had seen him so vulnerable, who had seen him … not at his best.

Dillon helped himself to one of the homemade Parmesan bread sticks and spoke around a mouthful. “I’ll start looking for someone else. We always get resumes. Most models would kill for an opportunity to work for him.” There they went again speaking around him.

“Don’t the two of you have things to do?” he said.

“Not till you finish your soup and drink some of that tea too. It’ll help calm you,” V replied.

He was their boss. He could force the issue, but they both knew he wouldn’t, and he knew that whatever it was they had to do would get done and then some.

“I’ll make sure he finishes, V, darling. Why don’t you go get on with the accounts? I know you’re up to your eye in it at the moment.”

“Well, if you’re sure,” she shoved her way to her feet with a cracking of joints heartily protesting time spent on the hard floor. “Make sure he doesn’t get up until he’s ready. And make sure he drinks that tea,” she called over her shoulder as she headed for the door, where she turned and gave him one more look-over just in case they’d missed something, just in case this time was different than all the other times they’d sat with him until he could function again. Something was different, but he wasn’t about to tell V that.

When they were both sure that the housekeeper was gone, Dillon turned his eagle eye on Lex. “Well?”

Lex did his best to focus on the last of the soup, but Dillon had been his best friend for years, long before he was his PA, and he didn’t miss much.

“You had a naked model with a very nice, very natural rack rubbing up against your back before you went ballistic on her and then hit the floor.”

“You’re seriously asking me if I got a hard-on from this whole experience?”

“Well, not the whole experience, obviously, but didn’t you, you know feel something before you felt what you usually feel.”

“Not long enough for it to cancel out the old reliable if that’s what you were hoping,” Lex said, downing the now tepid tea in a single gulp. He fought back a blush. “Besides, these days it wouldn’t matter if I were doing the accounts for V, I’d still be … uncomfortable. It’s ridiculous,” he said. “If I don’t figure out what the fuck my problem is, and soon, I’m going to have repetitive stress syndrome.” He flexed the fingers of his right hand. “Can’t be all that great for my work either.”

Dillon shot a glance back at the door on the outside chance that V might be eavesdropping, which the woman wasn’t above doing. Then he scooted a little closer, careful not to make any physical contact and spoke between barely parted lips. “I might have an idea.”

“You might?” Lex shooed the man away from the last breadstick with a snap of the napkin against his wrist, then grabbed it and chomped one end.

“Give me a little time to research it and I’ll get back to you.” He said, rubbing his wrist as though Lex had actually wounded him. Then he rose to his feet and left him to eat the last of his breadstick in peace.

He knew how Dillon was when he had an idea. He was never sure whether to be excited or terrified. He forced his way to his feet and turned his attention back to the half-finished sketch of Sally Philips now lying on the floor next to the over-turned easel among a scatter of other sketches. He had given the whole thing a shove when she’d trapped him between the easel and her half-naked body. Even as he shivered at the thought of her cold touch, he felt a tightening in his jeans. “Fuck,” he whispered under his breath. He wadded the drawing into a ball and tossed it across the room. Truth was he’d had a hard-on the whole time he was sketching her, but that was often a part of the creative process. He’d read enough to know that creative energy was very closely linked to sexual energy and libido, but under the circumstances he had very little outlet but a good jerk-off session. Surely Ms. Philips hadn’t noticed his chub. He never wore anything that might give away his secret when he was working with a model. Surely she hadn’t thought that he was interested. He wasn’t. Even if she had been his type, he had given up hopes of anything resembling a relationship or even a quickie with a stranger in an alley a long time ago. He righted the easel and picked up the sketches, organizing them and placing them back in the pad, careful to extract the ones he’d done of Sally Philips. A setback, indeed. They were nearly done – only a few more sketches and he’d have been ready to begin work on the sculpture for the new women and children’s hospital, but he knew he’d never be able to see sketches of her now without breaking into a cold sweat and feeling slightly nauseated, neither of which was conducive to creative efforts.

 

Buy The Tutor Here:

eBook:

Totally Bound Publishing

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon AU

Amazon CA

Amazon DE

Barnes & Noble

iBooks UK

iBooks US

Google Books

Kobo

 

Print:

Totally Bound Publishing

Amazon UK

Amazon US

 

 

BDSM in the Gym: Power Under Control

While some of this post is excerpted from the archives, it seemed really appropriate right now for a lot of reasons. Most of you know that I’ve always found physical activity an ideal way to access my creativity. One of my personal tag line has always been that I walk my stories. But walking is the foundation of so much more.

 

And NO! This is not a testimonial. It’s just observations of my own experiences. A bit of a naval gaze, yes, but I hope you’ll indulge me.

 

A year ago this past November, I made the decision to take off the extra weight I’d been carrying around for longer than I care to think about. I decided that if I wanted to achieve my fitness goals, I needed to jettison the extra baggage, as it were. And yes, that is a metaphor for a lot of things going on in my life then and now. By the beginning of April last year, I’d lost thirty-five pounds, reduced body fat and gained lean muscle mass. But that was just the beginning. I knew that the challenge would be to maintain my new weight and the habits that got me there as a way of life.

 

So, this post is a celebration of my first anniversary. I’ve maintained my weight for a year, and during that year I’ve continued to grow stronger and more fit. So I guess you could say that this post is a celebration of my body and the journey it’s taken me on so far, as well as those connections to my creativity. Please remember that these are my thoughts and my experience of the journey. Everyone is different.

 

I was asked once to write a guest post explaining what I thought the appeal of BDSM is in erotica. It’s a subject I still think about often, and every time I do I find myself thinking about my workouts at the gym and drawing parallels.

 

I work out with a personal trainer once a week. In addition she also trains me in kettle bells and Pilates. While the woman looks sweet and gentle, to those who submit to her training, she is anything but. She pushes me hard, much harder than I would be able to push myself, and I have a reputation for pushing myself hard. But the truth is that I don’t trust myself completely. There are boundaries I’m afraid to push on my own. I’ve had too many injuries from pushing in the wrong way and overtraining. Though I love working out with my husband, and we have a great time together whether we’re practicing martial arts or whether we’re swinging kettle bells, or even on a long walk, he can’t really push me like my trainer does because he’s not a trainer and because I’m his wife and he’s careful with me. Also he doesn’t want to be around the bitch I can be if he tries to push me too hard. I love training on my own. I love the creative process of it, but that doesn’t eliminate my need to be pushed by someone who sees me better that I see myself.

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Some days I hurt. Some days I even have a few bruises — mostly from mishandling kettle bells. I’m pretty proud of
those, actually, because they mean I’m learning new techniques, they mean she trusts that I can handle more difficult challenges and heavier weights. It doesn’t matter how badly my body hurts or how exhausted I am — I keep pushing, and I know that I can push because my trainer’s looking out for me; she’s in control.

 

What makes a situation that would appear to any outsider like torture something that I revel in is what happens inside my head. What I experience when I’m pushed to the edge of my endurance is somewhat similar, I imagine, to what practitioners of BDSM call subspace, which is the headspace in which submissives may find themselves when they’ve been pushed to their limits by their Doms.

 

I’ve been thinking about that training headspace a lot lately, about the place where I go during a hard workout, when I’ve moved beyond tired and beyond pain. Pushing myself to the limit changes much more than my body. It feels like I go through stages. First there’s determination, and when the pain sets in (I’ve learned the difference between good pain and bad pain) and my body starts to rebel, the emotions start to well up – sometimes anger at the intangible, at some nemesis I neither have a name for nor can define. Sometimes that anger morphs into a child-like state that brings me close to tears, a state in which I want to turn on my trainer and ask her why the hell she’s being so mean to me – even as I push myself harder, even as I respect her more for believing I’m worthy of this challenge. When I get past that ‘why are you hurting me’ stage, what happens next is the most amazing part of all.  Somehow my body pushes the pain back. Endorphins, adrenaline, and all the chemical soup flooding into my brain and body take me to a place that feels far removed from what’s going on physically, and yet also feels right there at the very centre of my body, right there where the part that makes me ME resides.

 

The thing about the change that takes place when my trainer has pushed my boundaries and tested my skill level is that, even when the workout is over, the change remains. I’ve gone where I’ve not been before. The reservoir inside me that makes me who I am becomes deeper. I feel more real. I write this because I’m always seeking ways to understand what’s going on in the stories we writers tell. And when BDSM takes up such a large space under the erotica banner, why wouldn’t I seek parallels, why wouldn’t I search for ways to understand, ways to help my readers understand and identify. I do the same with all of the many components of erotica. Having said that, I hardly think it’s a surprise that gyms and physical fitness figure so prominently in erotic stories. Nor do I think it’s a surprise that for so many writers,
physical activity is closely  linked to creativity.

 

If I could put the experience I share with my personal trainer into a phrase, that phrase would be ‘power under control’ — my power, her control. And that power is power I didn’t know I had, power I would have been afraid to access without her control. I think we can’t overestimate the body as a teaching tool for knowing ourselves. Nor can we overestimate it as a tool to guide us deeper into our creative selves. We’re all our own biggest mystery — power unaccessed, depths unexplored –and most of us tend toward the path of least resistance. Moving off that path into the Undiscovered Country, accessing our power, is often easier when someone else, someone we trust completely, is in control.

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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