I've been reading a lot about writing lately (Medium.com is a pretty amazing resource for writers), and I ran across a post which explained that most blogs have one of two main purposes: either a) to teach others, or b) to catalog a learning experience. It made me wonder about how I would categorize the purpose of this blog - my hope is that people learn something from my experiences (if only what not to do), and that people feel not so alone, and perhaps less shameful. After sitting with that question for a while, though, I realized that I am definitely cataloging a learning experience.
Right now, I'm learning how to deal with the fact that I wrote a book with sex in it, and that people will be reading it. Specifically, my mother.
Now, it is definitely a work of fiction, but there are some parts that are pretty close to the bone. People who know me and who read it will see me in the narrative. That narrative includes vulnerability, mental health issues, desire, and, yes, sex. I'll be honest, I'm more than a little freaked out that my mom will have a copy of the book with the full sex scenes (she has an early version with redacted chapters). I mean, I'm 42. I've been married twice, once to a man, now to a woman. She knows I've had sex. And, given her frank and open sex education talks when I was a kid, I'm sure that it was her wish that I have a healthy, happy, fulfilling sex life.
So, let's just rip off the band aid right now. There is a chapter in the book in which the main character sits on a man's face during sex just to shut him up (lolz). So, like, there's living openly and shame-free, and then there's knowing that my mom will have access to that chapter. *screams internally*
Of course, the book hasn't gone to the publisher yet; I could simply remove the scenes, or reduce them to the kind non-descriptive head nod towards the act that you sometimes read in books. For example, I'm in the middle of reading a really good fantasy series that spent two whole books perfectly and descriptively dragging out sexual suspense, only end it with... "and we definitely spent some time in his bed". I mean, what the hell was that? I wanted to throw the book across the room. To go from graphically describing a red-hot make out encounter in the first half of the book to end with "we spent some time in his bed" in the epilogue?? No ma'am. I'll go ahead and say it - I think that the author chickened out. She probably has a mother who reads her books.
Of course, this author has multiple successful series (that I will read, disappointments aside), and I... don't. Maybe I should follow her lead, but some of why I wanted to write this book in the first place was to explore the sex. In detail. This book (and hopefully, this series) is fantasy. It is sci-fi. And it is about relationships. To not explore the sex seems... wrong. You leave out so much when you leave out the sex. Sex lays you bare in more ways than one. You can't hide when you're naked with another person. Sure, maybe for a little while, but that level of intimacy always reveals truths. I figured out that my first marriage was over in bed. I knew that a man who I was desperately in love with didn't love me back (or even like me, really) because of his way with me in bed. I learned that even the most braggadocious person in the world feels at least somewhat vulnerable in bed. And that vulnerability? Is really fucking beautiful. Over my life I've enjoyed many sexual encounters (both in and out of relationships) that were incredibly significant for what they taught me.
I guess I'm also worried that people will read the sex scenes and think that they're getting full access into my bedroom (they're not). I'm worried about what people who know me at an acquaintance or professional level will think of me (never had much control of that anyway). But I'm more worried about muting the experience of women in bed, especially of fat women. I don't prose too much in the "her ample thighs opened to him" variety (though I like that as much as the next person). For me, it's far less about the visuals and far more about the head space and physical sensations that occur at that level of connection. My own morals around sex evolved over time from biblically-generated shame to just ensuring that all involved are adult and in agreement, and my writing reflects that. In my world, sex is only dirty when people are being used instead of appreciated.
So, yeah. Sorry, Mom. I write about sex. Not exclusively, not exhaustively, but... it's in there. And it's really important. Just... if you could avoid chapters 17, 25, and 72, that'd be aces.