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Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Inspiration, Take Me! I’m Yours

(archives)

It’s elusive, it’s mysterious, it’s exhilarating, and we erotic writers crave it more than the sex we write about. We chase it shamelessly, we long for it passionately, we would gladly make ourselves slaves to its every whim and, no matter how fickle it is, we always welcome it back with open arms. When it’s with us, it’s at least as good as the best sex. And when it’s not, we mourn its loss like a lover. I’m talking about inspiration, of course. It’s the breath of life for every story ever written and the coveted ethereal presence that every writer yearns for.

 

The mythological link to inspiration is especially interesting to me in the light of a life-long fascination with mythology. From my very first novel novel, The Initiation of Ms Holly, which is a retelling of the Psyche and Eros myth, to The Medusa’s Consortium Tales,  and the reframing of Medusa’s story, the Greek myths have inspired me.

 

Greek mythology – mythology oany kind, really — is fabulous inspiration for smutters. The gods are always dipping their wicks where they don’t belong and finding ever more creative ways to do so. Nine months later, viola! A magical child is born, a child with gifts that will be needed to save the world, or at least a little part of it. But there’s one story where the lovely virgin resists, and no wick-dipping occurs. That’s the story of Apollo and Daphne.

 

The Muses serve Apollo, so of course this myth interests me. Apollo is the god oflight and the sun; truth and prophecy; medicine, healing, and plague. He is the god of music, poetry, and the arts; and all intellectual pursuit. Daphne is a mountain nymph and not interested in giving up her virginity to some randy god. While Apollo is pursuing her, she prays to her father, who is a river god, and he turns her into a laurel tree. Ovid claims it’s not Daphne’s fault that she’s not hot for Apollo right back. He claims that Cupid, who is angry at Apollo shoots Daphne with a leaden arrow, which prevents her from returning Apollo’s feelings. But what matters is that she misses out on Apollo’s inspiration.

 

My theory is that the whole mythology of gods coming down from Olympus, or wherever else gods come down from, to seduce humans is really nothing more than a metaphor for inspiration.

 

Consider all the different forms in which Zeus visits his paramours. He takes the form of a swan with Leta, he visits Danae in a shower of gold coins, he approaches Europa as a white bull. Writers understand that inspiration can take absolutely any shape, and often the very shape we least expect.

 

The gods aren’t always gentle in their seductions. Hades drags Persephone off to the underworld screaming and kicking all the way. Zeus turns Io into a white cow, who is tortured and tormented by Hera. In the form of an eagle, he abducts Ganymede and drags him away to Mount Olympus. Writers know well that inspiration doesn’t always come in a gentle form. In fact one of my creative writing teachers used to advise her students to go to the place inside themselves that most frightened them, most disgusted them, most disturbed them, and that’s the place where they would find inspiration, that’s the place from which their writing would be the most powerful.

 

Finally, whether inspiration comes in gentle, beautiful forms or whether it drags us kicking and screaming and tears us from limb to limb, the result will be something greater than what it sprang from. From the seductions of the gods, the children born were always larger than life. They were heroes and monsters and fantastical creatures, but they were all born of that joining of divinity and humanity, they were all the result of what happens when something greater penetrates the blood and the bone and the grey matter that is our humanity. What comes from that inspiration may indeed be monstrous or fantastical, but it will always be, in the mythical sense, born of the gods.

 

Which leads me back to Daphne and Apollo. The cost of inspiration is the loss of innocence. We are seduced, we are penetrated, we are impregnated with something new, something fresh, something possibly even frightening, something that we, as writers must carry to term and give birth to. But none of that can happen without yielding to the seduction. Daphne became a tree, unable to move, unable to think, unable to ever be penetrated or inspired. One can only imagine what may have resulted from the willing union with the god of light and truth and poetry and the arts and all the things we writers crave. I’ll be honest, I fantasize about Apollo. I fantasize about inviting him right on in and saying I’m yours. I’ll take all you can give me, and please, feel free to stay as long as you like. Though, in truth, in my fantasy, I skip the dangerous and scary bits. And encounters with inspiration can often be dangerous and scary.

 

There is a cost to inspiration. It’s the obsession we all know as writers, the one that won’t allow us to think about anything else in the waking world and sometimes even in the dream world until we get the very last word down, until we make it shine exactly the way we conceived it, exactly the way it penetrated us. My heart is racing just writing this because every writer knows what it feels like, and every writer lives for it to happen again and again and again. So yeah, forget the tree rubbish, laurel or otherwise. Inspiration, take me, I’m yours. Have your way with me. I couldn’t be more willing if I tried.

 

Sex and Ritual

from the archives

Those of you who follow my blog and read my books know that I’m fascinated by the
connection between sex and spirituality. I’m not a mystic. I’m a bit of a skeptic these days, but I’d be the first to say that there’s definitely something spiritual, something magical about sex, and not the least of it is the ritual involved.

 

I’ve always loved ritual. I made rituals up when I was a child. Later, I was involved in everything from conservative Christianity to practicing in a Wiccan coven — drawn in by the ritual. I spent three years training to be a spiritual director. I did it for the ritual. Contemplative prayer, meditating upon passages of scripture, the use of movement, dance, chant, are all tools of ritual. During my time spent in the Wiccan coven, the year itself was lived out in ritual — full moon, new moon, the changing of the seasons, the celebration of spring and harvest. During that time my husband and I even underwent the ritual of hand fasting in the stone circle at Avebury.

 

Ritual is a set of actions performed mainly for their symbolic value. But that’s only the beginning. The real power of ritual is that it’s the gateway to something beyond itself, it’s the gateway to a deeper understanding of what it represents.

 

That ritual infuses my erotica is not surprising. Sex is steeped in ritual, and often the rituals we practice before sex are strikingly similar to religious rituals. We often wear special clothing for the occasion, just as priests and acolytes do. We may share a romantic dinner together before hand, with special foods, just as the priest serves the Eucharist. Flowers and gifts may be offered. And all this we do in hopes of experiencing and celebrating le petit mort, the sexual version of death and resurrection.

 

When life was a lot more tenuous than it is now, fucking the world into existence was an act of high magic, sympathetic magic. One hoped that by having sex in a field or a cave or possibly a stone circle, the birds and the bees would see what was happening, and take a hint. Pollination would take place in the plant kingdom, plants would grow. Procreation would take place in the animal kingdom, animals would give birth. There would be food to eat, and the next generation would be guaranteed. Our ancestors got it — that there was something in the act, something in the lust driving the mating rituals of all living creatures that brought about new life. New life was in itself magic.

 

Today sex is more about recreation than procreation. The urgency is no longer there, nor is the belief that our efforts will encourage the cattle in farmer Jones’s field to breed. The urgency may be gone, but the ritual is still there. Strangely and wonderfully, so is the magic, albeit a different kind of magic.

 

 

The beauty of sex as ritual is that we don’t have to be members of a religious group; we don’t have to undergo years of training to practice the rituals of sex. Whether it’s BDSM, kink, vanilla or masturbation, sex contains the built-in default rituals of all humanity, just like it does for our animal cousins. Yes, I get that it’s biology. But when cranes dance and grebes do synchronised swimming and apes groom each other, it certainly seems like more is happening than just the old in and out.

 

Giving and receiving pleasure is the ultimate ritual of human connection, even if it’s
just some much-needed connecting with ourselves. There are as many versions of the ritual as there are people to practice it. No organized religion can offer a ritual that is more personal nor more universally compelling. Perhaps that’s why so much effort  has been made through the centuries to regulate it, to control it, to limit it.

 

Back in the dawn of humanity when sex was both ritual and religion, our ancestors got it right. Though the science wasn’t yet available to back up that intuitive connection, that visceral urgency of fucking the world into existence, even back then, our ancestors already knew that the ultimate ritual, the ultimate magic takes place in the arms another.

 

 

 

 

Demon Dreams

Dreams have been a driving force in story and magic since our ancestors told tales
around the campfire. The connection between what goes on in our dreams and our unconscious is so startling that it’s no wonder mythology and religion are full of stories in which dreams are the way for the divine to speak to mortals. When we dream, it feels like we’ve fallen asleep in one dimension and awakened in another where different rules apply every night – every dream in fact – and where, struggle though we might, we are most definitely not in control.

 

People have always believed that there’s something magical about dreams, that in our sleep, we can see the future, be warned of coming catastrophe, see the face of a lover, even see our own doom. These days there’s not a lot that can’t be explained by science and technology. Magic is the realm of fantasy novels and super heroes, but dreams, well there’s still something almost magical about them. We can tell when someone is dreaming; we understand the physiological process, we can understand in part why we dream certain things. But even knowing what we do about the anatomy of sleep and dreams, a nightmare is still terrifying, a disturbing dream still stays with us for ages after it happens, and a sexy dream, well who doesn’t wish we had a lot more of those?

 

One of my very favorite classes in Uni was a psychology class that involved keeping a dream journal. All we had to do was write down what we’d dreamed every night. I was surprised to find that, in the beginning, I had trouble remembering much more than an image here and there, but then I’d never thought much about my dreams before that class. My teacher suggested I keep a spiral notebook and a pencil on my bedside table and that I set my alarm at two-hour intervals. Each time the alarm went off, I was to jot down just a few key words that would kick-start my memory in the morning, then go back to sleep. At first it was mostly mundane bits and pieces that I remembered, but it didn’t take long until I was remembering multiple dreams and detailed sequences.

 

I was so impressed with the results that I kept a dream journal for a long time after the class came to an end. I only stopped because it was beginning to take more and more time as I remembered more and more details. Later, when I worked with a Jungian analyst for a couple of years, dreams once again took center stage in exploring my inner workings. The thing about dreams is that every image, every action, can either symbolize something that could be important for the dreamer or, as Freud observed, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

 

Long after I stopped keeping a dream journal, I still wrote down powerful dreams, dreams that disturb me, or dreams that left me feeling like maybe I’d touched something deeper in myself. I recorded them and then I analyzed them and explored what they meant to me, what the Self was trying to communicate. I almost always found my efforts rewarding and enlightening.

 

There are dreams we’d like to linger in a little longer, there are also dreams we can’t wake up from fast enough. In the interviewing of the Guardian, which I am sharing now on my blog, as it unfolds, I am doing a lot of dreaming. In fact, I must approach the Guardian’s prison inside of Susan through a dream, and even from there, I am never sure I am in a nightmare I can’t wake up from or a dream I want to linger in.
While Talia, the succubus who helps me enter that dream state, promises me I’m perfectly safe … well, between a powerful succubus and a demon imprisoned inside a vampire who is herself a Scribe, with a capital S, I’ve seldom felt truly safe since I began the interviews. And no matter the reassurances I get from both succubus and vampire, how can anyone guarantee my safety in the Guardian’s presence.

 

New episode of Interview with a Demon coming up Tuesday.

Stay tuned.

 

Falling in Love with Rodin All over again

 

 

Yes, I am a romantic to the core. Yes, you all know this by now. But I had the pleasure of being in “romantic heaven” on Sunday. Well, actually, it was the British Museum. And while any visit to the British Museum is a little slice of paradise, this particular visit was even more so because it was Rodin and the Art of Ancient Greece.

 

 

 

 

One of my very favourite sculptures ever is Rodin’s The Kiss. And one of my very favourite exhibitions to visit regularly in the British Museum in the Elgin Marbles.

 

 

 

 

Imagine my delight when this special exhibition is an intermingling of the two with the focus on how the Parthenon and a trip to the British Museum influenced all of Rodin’s work.

 

 

 

 

Seeing the art of both set next to each other was a total delight. But best of all, was the wonderful insights into the heart of a creative genius by another creative genius, Rainer Maria Rilke, who was briefly Rodin’s secretary.

 

 

 

 

I guess you could say I was actually a little closer to romantic hell that I was heaven. I Much of Rodin’s work is an extension of his Gates of Hell, which was to be a representation of Dante’s Inferno. (Sadly other than a projection, only this clay representation of that masterpiece was on display. See the link for a better view)

 

 

 

 

For a better view and more details about Rodin’s Gates of Hell check out the Youtube link.

I was fascinated by the darkness that Rodin never shied away from in his work. As a writer, I feel it’s my duty also not to shy away from the darkness, even, maybe most especially, when I really want to.

 

 

 

 

The sculpture was commissioned in 1880 for a museum that was never built. But Rodin was so pulled into the effort, so inspired by it, that he continue to work on it and off until his death in 1917. Many of his most famous sculptures, including The Kiss and The Thinker (who was originally Dante sitting in the tympanum of the sculpture) were inspired by and taken from the Gates of Hell.

 

 

 

 

I was fascinated by the darkness that Rodin never shied away from in his work. As a writer, I feel it’s my duty also not to shy away from the darkness, even, maybe most especially, when I really want to.

 

 

 

 

That got me thinking that perhaps I am inspired by my own gates of hell. Perhaps we all are.

 

 

 

 

The recurring themes of darkness in my stories are, as was Rodin’s Gates of Hell, less about sin and punishment than they are about the human condition, my own condition, the fragmenting of self and the constant reworking of that self. Which raises a question I have often asked myself. Are we inspired by the darkness to seek out the light, or is it only the presence of the darkness that allows us to see the light at all?

 

 

 

Pole Problems, Pleasures, and the Company of Women

 

I’ve been doing pole for almost ten months now, and the photo shoot is fast approaching. While my progress often astounds me, I find, in true KD fashion, that I’m impatient to be better still and I’m never quite satisfied with where I am. What slows me down more than anything is the need for recovery time. At the moment I’m doing two and three classes a week. That’s in addition to gym time and walking like a crazy woman. While I don’t bruise as badly as I used to, there are always new move or combo that will add a whole new dimension to bruises, pole burn and muscle and joint aches.

 

 

 

I have never been good at moderation, and learning pole is no exception. That means in every class, I work flat out, and especially if I have a pole to myself. That means I don’t have the time to rest I would have on a shared pole. Of course when the endorphins kick in and I’m in the zone, I feel no pain. It’s only later when I’m back home and have scarfed my dinner that I realize I might have slightly overdone things … slightly. My body constantly reminds me that I’m not twenty. Hell I’m not even thirty or forty. And I’m constantly in dialogue with it trying to convince it that that eensy little fact doesn’t matter. Those dialogues often happen in a steamy epsom salts bath. I will not use my age as an excuse. But neither will I deny that it sometimes is a pain in my ass. Not

 

 

There’s no doubt that stamina and strength are finite. I have a pole at home now, which is extremely underused, not because I don’t want to practice, but because I’m too busy recovering from the practice I’ve already had. Every day I try to do a of the very basic moves, but sometimes it simply is a bridge too far.

 

 

Because I’m strong, I’m much better at pole moves that require strength. Now that I can get upside down on my own, I love the strength moves and I love the physics involved in holding a move that seems impossible to anyone looking on. However the moves that involve finesse and grace — the spins and combos — I struggle more with. In most cases it’s not because I can’t do them, it’s because when I do they look klunky and awkward.

 

 

Because I’m someone who has spent a good bit of my life yoyo-ing with my weight, I’m very conscious of what the scales say – even more so now that every extra pound is one more I have to drag up the pole and when the very sport itself is changing my body. I’ve kept the weight of for two years now and have developed strong, healthy eating habits. BUT I’m always hungry. Though anyone who has ever battled a weight problem will understand the struggle to decide if it is actual hunger or “head-hunger.” Some things don’t change just because my habits have changed.

 

 

Muscle does, however, weigh more than fat, and muscles tend to engorge after a workout. On average my weight is up maybe two pounds, and it’s almost always up that much the morning after a hard workout. The shape of my body is changing too. I have more muscle definition in my abs and especially in my shoulders and upper back. Bras and shirts are tighter across my back now and long sleeves that hug the upper arms just don’t work for me any more. They are either too short now or to tight in the bicep. Because of all the neuroses I associate with my weight and my body, I am cautious and I weigh every day so that I know my body’s cycles. That way there are no surprises.

 

 

As I see my improvements on pole and look at what I can do more critically, I have to appreciate all the positive changes the last ten months have brought about. I’m more flexible. I’m stronger – for the first time in my life I can do pull-ups unassisted. For me that’s huge. I feel more empowered, more confident in myself that I am learning something so hard and yet so beautiful and amazing. Seeing not only my own progress, but that of my pole sisters continues to be one of the best parts of the journey. Shared photos and encouragement, laughter and gossip and just spending quality time with other women — that is maybe the best part of these last ten months. The company of women is, something I think, many of us don’t get nearly enough of. And when we’re all striving toward being better, stronger, happier, and encouraging each other in the journey, how can it be anything but positive?

 

 

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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