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Creative Sex

Writing pen and birds 1_xl_20156020(From the Archives)

 

Sex and creativity are often seen by dictators as subversive activities.

Erica Jong

 

My husband knows I’m always looking for interesting articles about sex. He sent me one the other day about masturbation as a treatment for restless leg syndrome (It’s orgasm that actually seems to help. The means is optional.) This led us to an impromptu discussion of all of the other benefits of sex. Sex is a good sleep aid, sex can help with weight loss, sex can improve skin, hair and nails, just to name a few. The jury, however, is still out on whether sex is an aid or a deterrent to creativity.

For the nay-sayers, abstinence has long been touted as a way to focus sexual energy for creative purposes. On the other hand, a study at the University of Newcastle-on-Tyne and the Open University showed that professional poets and artists had almost twice as many sex partners as other people. The study also showed that the number of sex partners increased as creative output went up. The conclusion drawn was that the more creative you are, the more sex partners you were likely to have.

I’m sure that’s a simplification, but I wonder which came first the sex or the creativity? Is it the creative force that makes us horny, or is it being horny that makes us creative? My guess is that every writer, poet or artist would answer that question differently. However, I don’t think there’s any denying the close connection between the creative force and sexuality. Nor do I think that’s particularly surprising. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Freud was right. It IS all about sex. But what I’m not sure of is that we really understand just what sex is all about.

Yes, the basic biology of it’s obvious, but we humans haven’t had sex simply to procreate in a very long time now. We’ve evolved to want, to expect, even to need more from the sex act than just the next generation. Perhaps that goes hand in hand with the evolution of what civilizes us, what sets us apart from our animal cousins — at least in our own eyes. For humans, many of our basic needs have evolved two meanings. First there is the concrete realm in which we’re born, nurtured, thrive, pass on our genes and die. But we develop another level of meaning when we no longer have to use all of our energy just to survive. When starvation is no longer an issue, food and its preparation and presentation becomes art. When keeping out the cold is no longer an issue, clothing becomes fashion, and magazines tell us how we can be walking galleries for the art of clothing. When finding shelter from the elements is no longer an issue, the very homes we live in become an artistic expression of ourselves. Artistic expression, for us, has become as important as function.

But all of these necessities are concrete. Sex is not. In the days of our ancestor, sex was the magic by which two people become three. Today sex is the magic by which two people become one, or by which one person becomes more herself or himself. Procreation has given way to re-creation, on the one hand, but on the other hand, how can an act that has evolved from the very need to create the next generation be rooted in anything but creativity?

How can the process of creating not be sexual in nature? Writing a story is a penetrative act resulting in something larger, something much more alive than the words on the page, than the idea conceived. That’s heady stuff. That’s the writer in full rut. It’s intimate, it’s messy, it’s rough and tumble, it’s voyeurism and exhibitionism and full-on heat. If it isn’t, then there hardly seems to be a point.america-artist-art-paintings-prints-note-cards-by-howard-chandler-christy-nude-women-reading-approximate-original-size-18x16

That being said, anyone who has had good sex, lingering sex, or even remembers a good teenage feel-up
when time wasn’t an issue, and suddenly seemed no longer to exist, will recall that the end was subsumed in the means, the wonder of the act itself, the amazing intimacy with the other. Any writer or artist knows that experience up close and personal. At some point the creative act itself becomes the sum total of existence. The writer’s world shrinks to and expands out from that act, and the end no longer matters.

So how did I get from masturbation for restless leg syndrome to once more worshiping at the altar of the Divine Creative Sexual Force? Well I suppose it’s all just a part of the journey isn’t it? And besides, where else would I be expected to go with it?

 

Paranormal Baddies: Why we Love ‘Em

As I approach the finale of In The Flesh, my online dark paranormal serial, I’m struck once again by waterhouse_apollo_and_daphnejust how much fun it is to write the baddies. In The Flesh is based on a very creepy short story I wrote a long time ago, a short story whose baddie didn’t even have a name. His lover thought he might actually be god! The idea of having a god for a lover, having a lover who is more than human and at the same time way less than human, who like the gods of mythology, considers himself above human law and ethics, never stops intriguing me. I revisited the idea in the Lakeland Witches novels and in the sequel serial novella, Demon Interrupted, as well as several other stories I’ve written. The baddie, of the short story is exactly the reason why I felt compelled to expand In The Flesh. At first, I planned only a novella, but the story was too big for even that, and the baddie opened up a whole new realm of questions to be answered. Just what makes a baddie, and how thin is the line between the monsters and the good guys? And more important still, why do we always on some deep level, want to fuck the baddies?

The best baddies, the ones I want to revisit over and over again, the ones I want to know more about, are the ones who are as intriguing and seductive as they are terrifying. The best baddies, the ones that I love most to read about or watch in the movies, are the ones by whom I’d secretly like to be seduced IF I could get away with it unscathed, which of course is always impossible. For a baddie to really work his magic in a novel, he has to entice the reader into the shadows. There needs to be something about him that we want. There needs to be depth and dimension that are well-rounded and dark enough to balance the hero in the seesaw of plot twists and turns that lead to the Happy Ever After. The best part about writing In The Flesh as a novel is that so many of the characters are ambiguous, so many of them could be viewed as monsters, and almost all of them walk a very thin line between hero and villain. That has made the novel one of the most exciting and fun works of fiction I’ve ever written.

Bernini's Hades and PersephoneI think the baddie has to do more than just make the hero shine. He also has to hold up the mirror that reflects back the hero’s own dark side. He has to elicit more than hate from the reader and the other characters. I think for a baddie to really make a plot sing, he has to elicit our own dark lusts and our own voyeuristic walk on the wild side. The baddie attracts us because he’s brave enough, bold enough, not to
care about convention, not to care about what civilised society expects. He’s quite comfortable with his dark side. And he gets what he wants because he doesn’t mind doing whatever he has to in order to get it. Of course none of us wants that for ourselves, and yet all of us want to know, vicariously through fiction, what that might feel like

As In The Flesh evolved from a short story to a novel, and the dark villain, though still nameless, acquired the title of the Guardian, I often found him terrifying to write because even in his darkest, most wicked moments, his logic seems to make perfect sense. His passions, lusts and desires seem so reasonable, and even when they don’t, the very conviction with which he believes them to be worthy makes everything he does seem almost sympathetic. Even as I wrote him in all his monstrosity, I found myself wanting to make excuses for him. I found myself wanting to redeem him somehow, and yet is there redemption for a proper baddie? Would they ever seek it out? If I’m being honest, it’s the villain’s darkness I love, and it’s his darkness that makes the fire of the hero and heroine burn brighter. It’s also the darkness that makes them question themselves and everything they believe in.

And that leads me to the true job of the villain in a good read, the villain is there for the hero and heroineIn the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_n to spark against, the baddie is there to help the reader get a better picture of who the hero and heroine are. And the baddie is the knife and chisel that sculpts the hero and heroine into something better, something stronger.

And finally the villain is the reader’s (and the writer’s) voyeuristic walk on the dark side. We can go on that dark journey with the villain and we can go there safely, have a totally wicked time, and be back in time for dinner with the hero and heroine. And the Guardian promises to take both reader and writer on a seriously dark and terrifying, as well as outrageously sexy, journey.

 

There’s a new episode of In The Flesh up every Friday, and on Wattpad as well. You can read it in its entirety by following these links: In The Flesh, Wattpad.

 

 

 

Writing Sex as Magic

waterhouse_apollo_and_daphneMost of you know that every Friday for the past six months I’ve been putting out a weekly episode of a novel in serial form on my blog. And of course, I’m hoping you all know that because you’re following In the Flesh weekly and enjoying each new episode. In The Flesh is a dark paranormal romance, and as is always the case when I write a paranormal story, even more so than usual, I find myself thinking about sex magic.

I’m thinking about sex magic tonight. I think about sex magic a lot, actually. I’m always struggling to get my head around why sex is magic, why human sexuality defies the nature programme /Animal Planet biological tagging that seems to work for other species that populate the planet. I don’t think I could write sex without magic, and even if I could I wouldn’t want to. I’m not talking about airy-fairy or woo-woo so much as the mystery that is sex. On a biological level we get it. We’ve gotten it for a long time. We know all about baby-making and the sharing of the genes and the next generation. It’s text book.

But it’s the ravenousness of the human animal that shocks us, surprises us, turns us on in ways that we didn’t see coming. It’s the nearly out of body experience we have when we are the deepest into our body we can possibly be. It’s the skin on skin intimacy with another human being in a world where more personal space is always in demand.

When we come together with another human being, for a brief moment, our worlds entwine in ways that defy description. We do it for the intimacy of it, the pleasure of it, the naughtiness of it, the dark animal possessiveness of it. Sex is the barely acceptable disturbance in the regimented scrubbed-up proper world of a species that has evolved to have sex for reasons other than procreation. Is that magical? It certainly seems impractical. And yet we can’t get enough.

We touch each other because it feels good. We slip inside each other because it’s an intimate act that scratches an itch nothing else in the whole universe can scratch. During sex, we are ensconced in the mindless present, by the driving force of our individual needs, needs that we could easily satisfy alone, but it wouldn’t be the same. Add love to the mix, add a little bit of romance, add a little bit of chemistry and the magic soup thickens and heats up and gets complicated. I don’t think it’s any surprise at all that sex is a prime ingredient in story. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s any surprise that it is also an ingredient much avoided in some story.

leda Cornelis_Bos_-_Leda_and_the_Swan_-_WGA2486Sex is a power centre of the human experience. It’s not stable. It’s not safe. It’s volatile. It exposes people,
makes them vulnerable, reduces them to their lowest common denominator even as it raises them to the level of the divine. Is it any wonder the gods covet flesh? The powerful fragility of human flesh is the ability to interact with the world around us, the ability to interact with each other, the ability to penetrate and be penetrated.

So as I mull through it, trying for the zillionth time to get my head around it, I conclude – at least for the moment – that the true magic of sex is that it takes place in the flesh, and it elevates the flesh to something even the gods lust after. It’s a total in-the-body, in-the-moment experience, a celebration of the carnal, the ultimate penetrative act of intimacy of the human animal. I don’t know if that gives you goose bumps, but it certainly does me.

(From the archives)

 

Meditations on Laundry

“We went through a lot of workout clothes this week,” I say. Raymond is making coffee and I’m folding clothes in front of the drying rack that clutters our kitchen whenever we do laundry. Sometimes it clutters our kitchen all week long until I finally get around to folding the clean clothes and putting them away. However this week I am making a virtuous effort to get everything ironed and put away by Wednesday.

“We’ve had extra workouts this week,” he says as we both listen to the satisfying gurgle of the mocha maker sitting on the cooker.

clothes_basket “Both your gees are clean and ironed, all ready for Saturday.” I nod to the pristine karate uniforms hanging over the kitchen door. He teaches a karate class on Saturdays in Sutton and goes into London for a workout in the morning as well.

“Thanks.” He says, getting out the coffee cups. Raymond doesn’t iron, but he makes kick-ass coffee and a mean bowl of oatmeal. “Are you going in with me to walk?”

“I plan to.” I just happen to be folding the breathable Eddie Bauer shirt I wore last week when Emma Louise Burbidge and I walked the London Parks, and I smile at the memory. I don’t smile at the memory of the ratty tank top I wear whenever I do the roots of my hair between visits to the hairdresser – always something I put off until I start getting skunk strip down the centre of my part. I fold it hastily and put it in the basket. Interesting that I take care in folding the clothes that I have fond memories of wearing recently, and not so much with the ones I don’t.

Raymond hands me the coffee just in time as I turn my attention to the frustrating task of folding his myriad black socks. The thing is, he has a gazillion pairs and they’re all look almost but not quite exactly a like. They’re just different enough to make matching them a real nightmare. Some have different coloured toes, some are ribbed differently and there are at least three kinds that are identical except for the ribbing on the cuffs which varies in width by millimeters. I hate folding men’s black socks. This morning he has mercy on me and takes the task off my hands so I can return to the pleasure of folding the history of our week told in laundry.

“You’ve got a rip there on the sleeve,” I say, holding up a blue shirt. “And the collar’s getting tatty. I think we should retire this one.”

He studies it for a moment and nods his agreement. “I caught it on the corner of the filing cabinet in the printer room. Something needs to be done about that.”

“You know, every week we can detail the past week’s history in our clean laundry,” I say. In our dirty laundry too, I think, but I’d rather not think about that so much reminded of the ripe load of workout clothes I put in with extra detergent on long cycle.

Writing image He gives me The Look – the one he always does when he thinks possibly meds might be requires. Then he nods to my coffee cup, because clearly I haven’t had enough caffeine yet this morning.

“No, seriously. Look” I pull a pair of his blue workout shorts off the rack. “Remember kettle bells last week?”

“That was a killer,” he says with a smile that says he likes kettle bells class best when it’s a killer.

“And look, those walking trousers — I wore those in to try on new boots at the North face shop, but they didn’t have my size. Then I got ‘em muddy on the walk to Newland’s corner the day after.

“And that long-sleeve t-shirt there,” I nodded to a faded red V-neck. “I wore that last Wednesday when the house was like a deep freeze and I was trying to finish up the week’s edition of In The Flesh for my blog. I wore that blue hoodie too and spilled tea on it in the process, and then I got toothpaste on it that
evening when I brushed my teeth before bed.”

“I guess you’re right,” he says, looking around at our partially folded history lesson. “I never thought of it that way.

Neither had I, but there have to be a thousand stories in people’s laundry – dirty or clean. My laundry mostly tells the story of someone who writes and works from home, someone who walks a lot and works out a lot. Raymond’s tells the story of a man working in management, seeing clients, catching up on never-ending reports. They tell the story of a man who loves martial arts and loves being active. Sometimes there are travel stories, like the stain from some exotic sauce acquired while entertaining clients in a seafood restaurant in Alexandria. Sometimes there are anatomy stories, like the way his socks wear on the heels while mine wear out on the bottoms. We both threw away a couple pairs of socks after we’d finished the Coast to Coast walk a few years ago. I wear high socks when the weather’s cold and I’m sitting on my arse spending long hours in with my characters. I wear short light socks in the gym.

The point is that the stories of our lives and the fodder for the stories of lives I make up can unfold – or
fold, in this case – in unexpected ways. Perhaps Raymond was actually using his martial arts skills to raymond 018fight off spies who infiltrated the copy room to steal company secrets. Perhaps that’s how he ripped his shirt. Perhaps I woke up this morning and found myself folding the laundry of some stranger, none of it mine, none of it familiar. Perhaps the mud on my walking trousers was actually from my night haunts of staking vampires in old churchyards.

Mind you, most of the time, the folding and putting away of laundry is cause for little more than a sigh of relief that it’s done for this week and I can take down the racks and unclutter the kitchen. But sometimes, even folding the laundry can be more than it actually appears to be, and at the end of the day, everything tells a story – even men’s mismatched black socks.

 

Reflections from Face Book Prison

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The Face Book Police

 

jail cell

 

 

I’m doing my time in Face Book prison at the moment, carving my name on the unassailable walls with a
rusty ink pen nib next to the names of all those who have gone before me. I was incarcerated without a fair trial and, though I’ve made some pretty good guesses as to why I’m blocked from many of my groups, I can get no actual response from Face Book. I’m told that the usual sentence is two weeks, so I’m halfway through.

It’s strange, this Face Book Prison. I can comment and share pics and updates on my own page with no problems, but with all of the groups to which I belong, I can only see the posts and press my nose to the window longingly while I offer up only a feeble little ‘Like.’

I suppose it’s a writer thing, working in isolation as we do, but the pull of social media is a powerful one. That’s not too surprising since it’s a way of building and having community that we otherwise wouldn’t get. Plus, best of all, it’s words! We writers can all interact with each other in short little status updates and tweets and have meaningful conversations and share witty banter while safely and comfortably seated at home in our jammies. It’s introvert paradise. It allows us to talk about writing and books with lots of other introverted writers for hours on end. We writers are notorious for considering every word we put on the page precious. Yes we may have to ‘cut’ those precious words in the final draft, BUT we never throw them away! We just cannibalise them for the next work or the one after that. And yet, thousands of words are lost to us every single day, set adrift in status updates and tweets to end up somewhere out there in the cold outer reaches of cyberspace.

Words treated carelessly – that’s one of the side effects of social media, I think. Words are way more Book stacksthrowaway now than they’ve ever been in a history that’s treated words pretty precious because they tell stories, they tell our story! Now stories are nipped and snipped to status updates and 140 character tweets. Oh, the story is still there. It just has to be unpacked and teased out, and tomorrow it’ll be lost and forgotten.

What does that have to do with Face Book Prison? Well as much as anything it means I’ve been forced back into a world where words are creatures of leisure, words are a little bit more precious and treated with a little bit more respect. I’ve been forced back into a world where words line up to in long serpentine queues to tell their story and they take their own sweet time to do it. Anticip-a-a-ation. They’re making me wait, and the wait is bloody well worth it!

The thing is, as much as I enjoy the interaction, and I truly do, I have to admit that I’m really enjoying the enforced time with my own thoughts, time to allow my own enormous collection of words to come out and play. And strangely enough, in the midst of all those wild frolicking words, I’ve taken incredible pleasure in the silence. I had no idea that Face Book was such a loud place, but then it makes sense that
social media, by the very act of being social is psychologically loud. I had nearly forgotten that in the Writing pen and birds 1_xl_20156020midst of all my words there could be such delicious silence.

I miss my friends in the groups. Efforts have been made to send files hidden in cakes, but the Face Book
police are far to savvy for that. Though I do appreciate the efforts. I just want to tell everyone on the outside that it’s not so bad to be temporarily banned for crimes I would have enjoyed a helluva lot more if I’d only know what they were. I miss the connection, but in its absence, I’ve been reminded of other connections, creative connections that don’t come in status updates and tweets and, while I’ll be glad to be welcomed back into the fold, I don’t want to forget the frolic and gambol of words and the way they come in their own time in their own way, and I don’t want to forget the exquisite silence in between that connects them all so seamlessly and gives me a place to rest a bit and regroup.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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