Confessions of a Writer
Hello, everyone. My name is Sasha Olivia Rowan and I’m a writer. Not a famous one, but that’s all a matter of perspective. My point is: I have problems. Writer problems. But instead of just bottling them up until one day I write a tragic, clichéd autobiography about how hard writing is, I’ve decided to share them via an article series. I hope you enjoy!
Okay. Problem #1. Sex Scenes
I admit, I could never – not in a million years – write 50 Shades of anything. Maybe one or two shades, before I turned into a puddle of embarrassment and self-consciousness and oozed between the floorboards – I wouldn’t make it to 50. But trying to work in the competitive industry of storytelling, it’s a tough subject to get around.
Don’t get me wrong: I have no problem with sex. I don’t have any moral issues or body hang-ups that prevent me from enjoying something as natural, comfortable and comforting as sex. I can even talk about it like a normal human adult. Hell, I can even say the word ‘vagina’ if I want to – because I’m a big girl. Writing about sex doesn’t bother me.
It’s describing sex that makes me cringe.
I don’t write erotica; I have stories to tell that I don’t want people paging through to get to another exhaustively detailed hard-core sex scene. But it’s never enough, is it? I couldn’t just say ‘character A and character B passionately made love all night long.’ Yeah, pass. So here’s where we get to the hard part – the dirty details. And this is where my creativity engine sputters, stalls and dies.
Know why? Because in real life, I refer to my vaginal ladybits collectively as “nanner”. Which sounds like something you’d call your paper-thin aging great-grandmother, who’d shake her head at you and say something like ‘in my day it was called a pussy, dear.’
Was it, hypothetical great-grandma? Was it ever just casually referred to as a pussy? Because that seems to be one of the few words that a vagina is allowed to be called in a sex scene. There’s also mound, slickness, or, a favorite of mine, velvet glove (because that sounds really comfy) but all of that sounds absolutely ridiculous. And there’s no way around it. So I sit at my computer, writing and re-writing a sex scene until it’s obscene enough to be a fantasy instead of the real-life, sometimes mind-blowing, many times ordinary, experience that it is.
And I just can’t take myself seriously. I feel like my characters are going to look over their shoulders towards my narrating voice and say “Really? I have to beg for cock now? Whatever.” And she’ll roll her eyes and get on with it as the man contemplates exactly how throbbing his penis should be. This goes on for paragraphs or pages, depending on how much alcohol I’ve had and which dirty movies I’ve watched recently.
I don’t know if anyone else has this problem – maybe it’s just me. But I try not to sacrifice story-telling for the sake of filthier sex, so that leaves me with the added problem of creating a story arc for every sexual encounter. Which means I have to get real cozy with getting nasty – to make the story work.
It’s gotten easier with a mix of time, practice and abandon. I’ve analyzed arousal and attraction, looked at it from all angles and haven’t fallen any less in love with sex. I’ve learned that realistic expectations are fine – no marathons or acrobats needed – and that the timing, pace and placement of sex in a story can be as vital to the plot as a murder or a fight scene. Sex is a lesson in discovery, and should be treated as such. It’s a chance to dig deeper into a character, a moment to display them at their most raw. It’s not just for show and tell, and not just to keep a reader flipping the pages. Adding the words cock or pussy shouldn’t just be to make the story edgier. A sex scene can be emotionally brutal, physically exhilarating and a poignant moment for the readers to get tied into the story, to invest a little more in the welfare of your characters.
Because once the readers care whether or not your character is going to cum, they just might care whether or not they’re going to live.
Either way, I still squirm in my seat when I have to pen a sex scene. But with a drink first and a cigarette after, somehow I manage.
In the comments below, tell me what you think about sex scenes! What it’s like to write them, to read them – and what you like to see.