Masturbation and Creativity

May is National Masturbation Month, and as one who is proud to be a frequent masturbator, I wanted to honour the occasion on my site. At first, I was just going to put together a list of fun facts and interesting ideas, of which there are many where masturbation is concerned, but then I came across a fabulous article by Eric Francis over on Betty Dodson and Carlin Ross’s Sex Information Online site. And it got me thinking.

 In his post, ‘What Exactly is Masturbation Month,’ Eric Francis wonders why most sites by and for singles, to promote and validate the single lifestyle don’t discuss masturbation. The surprising answer seems to be that masturbation is a subject even happily single people just aren’t comfortable discussing. But what intrigued me most was Eric’s speculation as to why that might be:

 ‘I would propose that masturbation is about a lot more than masturbation — and that’s the reason it’s still considered so taboo by many people, and in many places. First, I would say that masturbation holds the key to all sexuality. It’s a kind of proto-sexuality, the core of the matter of what it means to be sexual. I mean this in an existential sense. Masturbation is the most elemental form of sexuality, requiring only awareness and a body. Whatever we experience when we go there is what we bring into our sexual encounters with others — whether we recognize it or not. Many factors contribute to obscuring this simple fact.’

I read this through several times, savored it, and read it again. The ancient Egyptians believed masturbation was a creative act in its own right. In the Heliopolis creation myth, the god Amen rises from the primeval ocean, Nun, and masturbates the divine son and daughter into existence, and they populate the world. Even if I look at the Judeo/Christian myth in the first two chapters of Genesis, where God speaks the world into existence, I am still looking at a solo act.

I love Eric’s line, ‘Masturbation is the most elemental form of sexuality, requiring only awareness and a body.

Awareness and Body. What a fabulous combination! Eric even goes on to say that whatever we bring from that proto experience of masturbation, we bring into our other relationships as well. In other words, it’s formative, that solo act, that original creative force. It brings awareness and body together. Isn’t that what it’s all about? The discovery of who we are in relation to ourselves is key if we are to be able to properly enter into discovery of ‘The Other.’ Doesn’t the act of creation, metaphorical or otherwise, begin with taking an inventory of what we’ve got to work with and learning how best to work with what we have to bring forth what we hope to create?

Every February, my husband and I get out the vegetable seed we’ve stored over the winter to see what we need for the veg patch in the spring. We spread everything out on the floor in front of us, and I get out my cunning plan, the mock-up drawing of what I want in our beds and where I want it. Then, we take inventory. It’s not just that we have three packets of peas and a packet of beefsteak tomatoes, but it’s reminiscing about how yummy those tomatoes were last year and how we didn’t have nearly as many peas as we’d have liked. It’s planning and scheming how we can have more, and discussing which is the best kind of sweet corn to plant, and making sure we have enough yellow courgette seed. Though it’s usually done with lots of wine or coffee for refreshment, depending on the time of day, the whole exercise is really all about how we’ll create this lovely veg garden we see in our minds’ eye now that we’ve inventoried what we have to work with.

Awareness and a body. Masturbating the world into existence. It happens all the time. At the risk of offering too much information, my understanding of sex, my deepest understanding of my own sexuality, comes from awareness and my own body. That’s what I have to work with. My understanding of writing, my deepest understanding of the creative forces in me also comes from awareness and my own self.

I’m astounded that in a world where solitude and the meditative tradition is a part of almost every religious discipline, we shy away from the very concept that could have well given birth to it, awareness and Body. Can there really even BE awareness without a body? And how can we possibly understand the boundaries and the limits of either without the two rubbing up against each other. Our act of one-ness, our proto-sexuality, as Eric Francis calls to it, I suggest is by its boundary-exploring nature, also our proto-creativity.

National Masturbation Month honours awareness and body and the discovering of our own boundaries, that which separates us from everything else. And beautifully, amazingly, astoundingly, it is discovery and exploration of our own boundaries that eases and enhances our journey into connectedness.

NEWS UPDATES

I just found out today that The Pet Shop will be released on May 12 on PDF and eBook through Xcite Books! Excited, who? Moi? I’ve just been over to the Xcite cite to check it out, and there it is complete with a really steamy excerpt. Go on, tak a peek… As soon as I know more I’ll be crowing all over the place about it, so stay tuned. The release date for the paperback and the launch party at Sh!, which may very well spill out into the streets in a froth of happy pink fizz bubbles will be in October.  Oh yes! The fun is just beginning!

Coffee Time Romance started out the month of May with a Book Brew With Coffee Crew event entitled ‘love conquers all.’ Along with a group of other romance writers, I was interviewed by the fabulous crew and given the chance to talk about The Initiation of Ms Holly and what obstacles my characters had to overcome in order for love to conquer all. It was a fabulous start to the month, and I’d like to thank everyone at CTR who made it such a fun event.

Friday night, all the fun will be at Sh! Hoxton while I get to read just a few of the juicy bits of The Pet Shop as a sneak-view, and the totally yummy Kay Jaybee wil be reading from her hard-hitting, temperatur raising novel, The Perfect Submissive, as well as her new story collection, Yes Ma’am. We’ll be joined by the very talented Mayo, who will be exhibiting her gorgeous erotic art. Pink fizz, cupcakes and fun all around.

Then it’s home for two days and off, once again, for some fun, fell walking, and more research for Lakeland Heatwave in the gorgeous Lake District. Sigh. How I suffer for my art.

Still to come… poetry, music, more on the proper care and keeping of Pets, fabulous guests and lots more.  Here’s wishing you a fabulous May!

 

Spring Heat Wave at Sh! Hoxton May 6th

Everyone is talking about the hot spring we’re having here in the UK,  and I’m happy to announce that it’s about to get a whole lot hotter. Friday night, 6th May Sh! Women’s Store Hoxton will be the hottest place in town.

 After a fabulous debut at Sh! Portobello, the sexy art of Mayo will now be on display at the Hoxton Sh! Store, and the artist herself will be joining the fun to tell us all about her steamy creations.

 The very delicious Kay Jaybee will be reading from her sizzling new novel, The Perfect Submissive, and I hear there may also be more fab BDSM excerpts from her hot collection, Yes Ma’am,

 And yours truly will be giving a sneak-preview from my new novel, The Pet Shop. Even as I write this, I’m giving the proofs one final read-through before Xcite Books gets Pets ready for the big debut. Oh yes, I’m excited!

 If you’re on this side of the pond, come join us for pink fizz, cupcakes, fabulously sexy art and steamy reading that will leave you needing a fan, or some serious personal air conditioning – or more fizz:)

 RSVP at Sh! Hoxton. And gents, be sure to have an escort of the female persuasion.

OTHER NEWS

The Initiation of Ms Holly just had another five-star review from Miz Love Loves Books. It came at a time when I was feeling a little under the weather, and was just the pick-me-up I needed. 

“A thoroughly enjoyable erotic read which ticks all the boxes and leaves the reader feeling satisfied with their choice of fiction… I can’t wait to see what this talented author comes up with next.” Miz Love Love Books

The Hopeful Romantic Site is opening up to guest bloggers very soon. Keep watching for more information on new and exciting guests and topics that will always be sizzling whether the summer is or not.

 Since it’s the time of year to get out and enjoy the bluebells and walk in the lovely British countryside, I shared my experience of walking the story with the amazing Rebecca J Clark over at her fabulous Once Written Twice Shy site, along with some great photos of walking the beginning of The Initiation of Ms Holly. Thanks, Rebecca, I had a blast!

 Most of you know, I now have the final proofs back from The Pet Shop for one last look-see before I give custody over completely to Xcite. It’s lovely to have a little more time with Tino and all his rough and tumble friends.

 And, the nest never stays empty for long. Lakeland Heat Wave is well under way and promising to be challenging is more ways that I could have anticipated. The fun is just beginning. I’ll be off to the Lakes as of May 8th  for some heavy-duty fell walking. I’m looking forward to soaking up more ambiance and finding out a bit more about Mountain Rescue and raising sheep. Oh, get your mind out of the gutter! One of my characters is a farmer. :^)

 

 

Shifting the Balance of Power — ‘Creating’ the Erotic Man

I recently attended a talk and slide-show at the Feminist Library in London led and organized by Suraya Sidhu Singh, Editor of Filament Magazine. Anyone who knows anything about Filament Magazine knows it’s one of the few magazines that feature stunning erotic photography of men photographed by women. The event asked the question: when there are so many great women photographers, why are there so few women photographing men erotically? It featured three women photographers who regularly do erotic photography of men; Migle Backovaite, Alex Brew and Victoria Gugenheim. Each woman gave a slide presentation featuring some of her amazing photography and spoke on her experiences of photographing men erotically.Suraya, who has researched the topic extensively also gave a talk on her findings. The discussion after the presentation was lively and thought-provoking.

 If I could sum up the evening in a phrase, it would be that the event was a study of what happens to the balance of power between the sexes when women are behind the camera photographing men erotically. This was not a factor I would have considered before, and afterward, I found myself wondering why I hadn’t, since it seemed so obvious.

 Naturally whatever I take away from any experience is always filtered through my writer’s brain, and I found myself comparing the experience of a woman photographer photographing men erotically to the experience of a woman writing men erotically. The internal comparison has been helpful to me as a writer, and from the standpoint of a woman who creates erotic art, I find the personal aftermath of the event challenging and exciting.

 I took away that one of the big reasons more women photographers don’t photograph men erotically is because of the power dynamics. A man being photographed erotically is by the very fact that he is the subject of the artist, submissive to her view of what she wishes to create. While lots of men are being photographed by women photographers, the dynamic is considerably different when the photography is erotic. I felt, especially from the powerful, sometimes frightening works of Alex Brew, that when a man is being photographed erotically, a negotiation for power takes place by default, a struggle to balance that power so that both the subject and the photographer understand and participate fully in the work being created in the way the photographer envisions it. Of course I’m not a photographer, and much of my feminism is a gut-felt response to growing up in a very male-dominated family and living in a world where the struggle for a balance of power is on-going. No doubt my view would have been slightly different with the benefit of a more academic and historic view of feminism, but the landscape would still be the same.

 There are few women photographing men erotically. By contrast, the majority of quality erotica is written by women. There are some brilliant men erotica writers, it’s true, but women have, in essence, defined the modern erotica genre. I think this surley must have been, at least partially, in response to the quality that wasn’t there in porn. Perhaps also in response to the general poor quality of porn, more and more men are now reading erotica written by women. This is just my informal view of the landscape. However as erotica writers, we are the creators of that landscape, at least fictionally, and that shifts the balance of power considerably. One would think that by the very nature of fiction, there would be no negotiating for power with our characters, but that isn’t true. Many writers would agree with me that their characters tell them how they want to be written, and their characters are always right. Indeed, it is the characters themselves that are more willing to take risks artistically than their creators. How much of the real world struggle for balance of power between the sexes effects what we create fictionally, however, is the subject for another blog post.

 Many of my woman colleagues find writing erotica one of the most empowering experiences in their life. I would definitely agree with that. While there is a camera separating the photographer from her subject, for good or ill, there is no separation between the writer and the world and the characters she creates. The negotiations are all internal, and the battle, though a quiet, perhaps less obvious one, is always going on.

 I was also struck by the fact that there was a relationship, a certain dynamic, between the photographers and their subjects, and that dynamic affected the end result heavily. In addition to the negotiation of the balance of power, trust was a big issue, for both the photographer and the subject. In the erotic photo spreads I’ve seen in Filament Magazine, there is a certain vulnerability achieved by the photographers in their work which is a part of what makes these spreads so erotic. There is an unselfconsciousness that doesn’t come across on the cover of a bodice ripper or in ordinary beefcake of the male stripper sort. That vulnerability and that level of trust is, for me as a viewer and as a writer, the true erotic element in the work. Take it away, and the work becomes generic, distant, two dimensional.

 I’ve found the same to be true of my writing. The characters only come to life, only feel like someone I’d want to make love to, even fall in love with, when their guard is down and they are most vulnerable, when I catch them in an intimate moment and I’m either someone who they trust or I’m a voyeur, which is another matter altogether. I can write as a voyeur easily, and I almost always do when I write BDSM, but it’s another level of trust and skill for a photographer to capture that voyeuristic feel, and a stolen peek at an intimate moment will always make the pulse race just a little bit faster.

I found myself admiring the bravery of these photographers because they’re entering a space traditionally reserved for men, and a space not without its danger. It’s a space in which there’s often still the assumption that any woman entering in must be ‘gagging for it,’ or why else would she photograph such things? Women erotica writers hear it all the time; that we must be loose slutty women, that surely we must have tried all the things we write about. The very big difference for us is that we don’t experience that from any of our characters. They’ve come from our imagination at our conjuring, and though they may have ideas of their own, they do not exist outside the world we’ve created, even when we let that world take up way too much of our lives in order to get them on the written page. Another level of trust and vulnerability and sharing of power has to take place in order to create powerful photographic images like those shared by Migle Backovaite, Alex Brew and Victoria Gugenheim, and when it happens, the images are erotic, haunting, and stunning snapshots of male beauty at its loveliest, and quite possibly at its purest.

 

Interviewed by SexToys.co.uk

 

Adventures in Luton at Sextoys HQ

I got off the train in the wasteland that is the Luton Station, and in the heat and dust, hailed the only taxi left in the taxi rank. I gave him the address.

 ‘What’s the name of the business, luv,’ he asked politely.

 Not sure why he needed that information, I said very quietly, ‘Sextoys,’ Yes, that’s right, the pervy chick who’d just gotten into his taxi wanted him to take her off to fondle sex toys and talk about writing erotica, but couldn’t we do this discreetly?

 ‘Pardon,’ he said.

 ‘Sex Toys dot co dot uk,’ I enunciated a little more clearly and a little louder. Alright, he asked. I’d tell him.

 He screwed up his face with that, ‘didn’t quite catch it, luv,’ look and reached out his hand for the print-out with the address on it. Then he smiled knowingly. ‘Ah, 1-on-1. You want 1-on-1.’

 I nodded red-faced, as he handed me back the page with the words 1-on-1 printed clearly above the street address. Then he headed off to our destination whistling happily as he drove.

 In all fairness, when the lovely Cara Sutra asked if I would do the interview, I really didn’t know what to expect. I only knew Sextoys.co.uk as the mysterious company that sells all those fabulous toys, costumes and other cool stuff on the Xcite Book site — often in conjunction with really hot books – some that included stories by yours truly.

 The taxi ride was about ten minutes to a nice business park that seemed quite upscale in comparison to the train station. I paid the driver and pressed the buzzer of a suite that had a bright, yet understated 1-on-1 sign above the door. Within seconds, Cara Sutra herself welcomed me into what could have passed as any other bright, comfy reception area for any of the myriad businesses in the complex… Except for the colourful displays of dildos, hand cuffs, lingerie, love balls, muff dye and lots of interesting gadgets I didn’t recognize. I’m such an innocent. This was the show room, Cara told me. She apologized for her bare feet, her way of dealing with the spring heat wave. Cara calls herself the ‘Jill of all trades’ at Sextoys HQ, and if her enthusiasm is any indication, I’d say she enjoys her work.

 She introduced me to Rach Starr, who offered me a 14-karat smile and a warm handshake. Rach was the presenter who interviewed me. I was then introduced to the video director and graphic designer in residence, Ellie Douglas, also bare-footed in honour of the weather, and Dean Sturgess, who ran the camera and added a few good questions of his own as the interview progressed. I found out later that Dean is also head of accounts.   

 Perched on a comfy red sofa in front of a huge One-on-One logo, Rach dazzled me with her smile and made me feel right at home while I nattered on and on about two of my favourite subjects; sex and writing – with a bit of walking and gardening thrown in for good measure. God, I’m so predictable.

 Shamelessly I plugged The Initiation of Ms Holly and The Pet Shop, with a hint of things to come in Lakeland Heatwave. I plugged all things Xcite and all of my erotic favourites. And when I paused for breath, Rach brought out her copy of Sex at Work and asked me to sign it. I felt like a celebrity! It was Rach’s last day with Sextoys. She’s an actress now taking a bold step out on her own. Good luck to you, Rach!

 At some point Dean asked if there was anything I would love to write but didn’t because I knew it couldn’t be published, which led to a discussion of the standard guidelines for most published erotica, and of course the differences between porn and erotica. Oh yes, lots of naughty folks at Sextoys HQ. And, wait for it, yes Ellie is a gardener – a veg gardener! Truly a woman after my own heart. The conversation wasn’t complete before we compared the size of our tomato plants.

 Then Ellie whisked me off for a tour of Sextoys HQ. The first stop was the enormous warehouse. Oh my, my! An erotica writer’s paradise. I’ve seen dildos and vibes and strap-ons before, but there were multiples… large multiples of everything! The colourful metal stock shelves rose from floor to ceiling full of every imaginable sex toy, gizmo or gadget, and some things I really couldn’t have imagined. In the spring heat, the huge sliding stock door was open to the fresh air.  Music played on the radio, and the place was a hive of activity. There were people filling orders, people stocking shelves, people rearranging shelves, and there were smiles and greetings all around. I was introduced to everyone in a whirlwind, so all I really remember are smiling faces and joking banter.

 Then Ellie took me up to the centre of the operation, a bright open-plan office with huge plate glass windows letting in the light on three sides. If I’d been a cat I would have staked out a place on the carpet in the sun and had a snooze. But this place wasn’t about snoozing. Keyboards clicked and copy-machines copied. Ellie introduced me to customer service, IT, and other office personnel, again all offering happy smiles and greetings, though that could have possibly been because Kirspy Kreme donuts were the order of the day – probably for Rach’s send-off.

 My favourite place had to be the catwalk out over the warehouse. I think it’s a hopeful sight, seeing floor to ceiling shelf after shelf of sex toys and other sex goodies with the sun streaming in behind the swirl of activity below. It was lovely to be in such a sex-positive place and to be with other people who think sex is worth celebrating.

 By three I was on the fast train from Luton back to St Pancras, but not before I was invited to The Manor to see Ellie’s tomatoes and her chickens – another adventure for another time. I left Luton with the good feeling that comes from meeting new friends who share a common passion. As the train pulled away, I felt as though I were leaving a part of me behind. Then it came to me, I’d left my jacket in the studio, my own sacrifice to the spring heat.   

 Cara tells me the interview will be on Sextoys.co.uk’s Vibe TV page, and will also be on attached to the product page of my books. I’ll pass the word when that happens.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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