I Am Not An Erotic Writer

I don’t write erotic fiction. I used to, a long time ago – well, I started a long time ago, then wrote in fits and starts for a few years. I don’t any more, though sometimes I want to.

I have thought about writing new erotic fiction. I’ve thought about it while I’m fantasizing, thinking maybe someone else might enjoy this as much as I do. Sometimes I will send a fantasy to its object, and usually that person enjoys reading it. But it never makes it into solid narrative form.

Today I was thinking about why that is. I am generally of the opinion that a strong narrative needs a compelling visual element, and my sexual arousal is usually not very visual. That is, when I’m imagining pleasure, I’m not thinking of the cut abs, angular cheekbones, and throbbing manhoods that represent sexually appealing masculinity (ok, so maybe I’m thinking about throbbing manhoods sometimes). What I’m thinking of is a person who makes me feel good. I’m thinking of the feel of their lips brushing my neck, the weight of their body on top of me, or the sounds they make when they’re about to orgasm.

Much as they make me drool, I’m not thinking of Sean Maher, January Jones, or John Barrowman. I’m not imagining a beautiful body, I’m imagining the beautiful things that a person can do to me, and the ways that I can make someone feel.

I think about the powerful, direct jolt from the nape of my neck straight into the depths of my pussy whenever someone buries their fingers in my hair and pulls, hard. I think about the way their tongue feels on my nipples, or their fingernails digging into my hips when I’m getting fucked from behind.

Photo by Molly Algernon

Photo by Molly Algernon

I don’t really think about the look of a body. I don’t dream of perky breasts or long legs. I am conscious of such things, and even somewhat adept at describing them. My old fictions can attest to that. But those descriptions always read as disingenuous, because the way a body looks is never what draws my interest or fuels my desire. I will admit that looking into someone’s eyes and seeing lust in them certainly does move me, but that look, no matter the writer, is one that can’t be truly shared in print. Words never really capture that flame that hides behind the iris and says “I want you, you take my breath away.”

Something seems to be missing from my story when I share the touch of a hand, the grip of teeth, the strength of a thrust, but my reader can’t see us. If I’m sharing with a person while I’m fantasizing, it’s easy. I am me, and you are you, and the image is ready-made. But for a wider readership, I want to be able to offer something real, something tangible, not the passionate affair of ghosts.

So I don’t write erotic fiction, though I still want to. I find myself inspired by another writer, who intersperses his sexual interludes with bits of internal monologue, sometimes wandering along tangents for several paragraphs, before reminding me that he’s got a woman’s mouth on his cock. That kind of narrative makes me feel like I’m inside his convoluted mind while he’s fucking, rather than being an observer. I love that. Perhaps, if I can capture that feeling within the context of my own experience, it won’t matter if my actors have no visages. We’ll see.

Ink

This is not a “here’s what I ate for breakfast,” daily life events kind of blog, and I like it that way. I really don’t think anyone cares about a snotty customer I had at work, or the weird conversations I have in bed with my boyfriend. That said, I recently had a pretty major life event that I want to share. Two days ago, I completed a full-back tattoo that I’ve been working on for over a year.

IMAG0533

The quote at the bottom, “existence precedes essence,” is an unrelated piece I had done several years ago. The quote is from Sartre’s “Existentialism is a Humanism.” The fact that it looks like a caption to the image is coincidental.

There she is. This is Tess, or to be more specific a depiction of the climactic scene from Thomas Hardy’s 1891 novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Yes, I’m a big literature geek. I find it very hard to share the reasons that this scene is so important to me – there are many, but they’re only loosely connected.

I suppose the simplest is that this novel was my first realization that literature is challenging. English class always came easy to me, not because it is an easy subject, but because it’s made into a throwaway in public school. If you can read a novel and name the characters and a few major plot points, you pass. A question like “what is the tone of this passage?” is about as deep into a book as most classes delve. However, in twelfth grade I had a blessing of an English teacher who made us really learn from what we read, instead of just learning about it. She was the one who taught me what a thesis statement was – that writing about books didn’t just mean knowing what the book said, it was making an argument about what the book means. It was in her class that I read Tess for the first time, her class that inspired me to major in literature, and that book that made me passionate about Victorian novels.

The longer reason is why this particular scene of the novel moves me. For anyone who isn’t a big reader of Hardy (which is most people), here’s the world’s shortest summary of the plot of Tess:

Tess comes from a poor family, and in her efforts to support herself and her loved ones, she goes through some serious shit. She gets raped, has a child (who dies), endures horrible poverty, falls in love (yay!) but then is abandoned on her wedding night when she confesses to her husband those things from earlier about the rape and the baby. She eventually marries her rapist out of desperation, but when her true love returns to her she murders the new husband and runs away with her love, only to be arrested and executed for her crime. (I’d feel bad about spoilers, but the book is over 100 years old.) The end.

I know, happy story. In case you’re wondering, almost all of Hardy’s novels are about that happy.

2013-04-03_11.46.46

“I like very much to be here,” she murmured. “It is so solemn and lonely – after my great happiness – with nothing but the sky above my face. It seems as if there were no folk in the world but we two […]”

So, why is Tess napping in the middle of Stonehenge, I hear you asking impatiently. This scene occurs only moments before Tess is found and arrested by the police. She has gone through incredible torments, but has finally freed herself from the awful man who manipulated her throughout her life, and is with the man she loves. They have spent the last few nights together in flurries of passion, knowing their time is short as she can’t run from justice forever. Now she wants to rest, she’s ready to be captured and even to die because she’s gotten everything she ever really wanted. When she lays down, it’s not because she’s giving up, it’s because she’s content. And because Hardy has to have her go out with a flourish, she and her love find themselves in the middle of Stonehenge as the sun is rising, and Tess lays on a sun-warmed stone to sleep. When she is surrounded upon waking, her last words are, “I am ready.”

That scene has always spoken to me, and so after a little over a year’s worth of investment with one of St Louis’ very best tattoo artists, Amanda Pepper, it’s complete. As I’ve mentioned before, I consider body modification to be an important part of my deliberate body. I believe there is no more powerful way to take control of my body, and to display my mind upon it, than through mods, and especially tattoos. My piercings might give you an impression about me, but my tattoos tell a story. I’ve got a lot more on the drawing board, so to speak, and I expect they will be a life-long project for me as I’ll never run out of stories to tell.

This is my copy of Tess. It's pretty well loved.

This is my copy of Tess. It’s pretty well loved.

It’s about time

After writing a blog for the ethical non-monogamy site Life on the Swingset for the last year, and recently starting to write for the community blog on Feministing, I’ve finally decided to strike out on my own. The name of my blog, A Certain Star, was drawn from my name (duh) and also the poem “My Star,” by Robert Browning. This is going to be a space for me to share…well, everything, really. I like to talk, about everything, all the time. I am a non-monogamous, queer, 20-something, educated, married, cis-woman living in the Midwest. To earn my bread I sling coffee, and run a human sexuality lending library in the cafe where said coffee is slung. I’ve got things to say: sometimes they’re silly, sometimes they’re sexy, sometimes they’re angry and soap-box-y.

Things you can expect to see:tumblr_lxe592hXS71r9foqc

I promise all writing will be my own, and all photos will be either of or by me. I’m not really interested in being one of those weird blogs that just re-posts things they find all over the internet. That’s not how I roll.

The real material will start rolling in tomorrow. For now, here’s Robert Browning’s poem, “My Star:”

            All that I know
            Of a certain star,
            Is, it can throw
            (Like the angled spar)
            Now a dart of red,
            Now a dart of blue,
            Till my friends have said
            They would fain see, too,
My star that dartles the red and the blue!
Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled:
      They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it.
What matter to me if their star is a world?
      Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.