Or: Sex & The Single Girl (In Space)
For this blog post, I ask the question (and dare you to share): How does writing about sex make you feel? Nervous? Anxious? Giddy? Or is it just par for the course; business as usual?
To kick things off, I offer up my own recent experiences.
Of all the things you can write about, I don’t think anything comes under more scrutiny than sex. And for good reason. Let’s face it, for most of us, sex is one of the, er, more intimate and personal interactions that we can have - Ooh! And fun! Let’s not forget fun.
I knew when I undertook the task of writing a science-fiction novel that a lot of the elements would be scrutinized: my invention, or re-invention, of a reactionless space drive engine, my take on genetics, even my calculations of astronomical units. Science-Fiction is one of those genres where a large portion of the readership will really pour over the details - but that’s what makes them such a passionate and fun group to write for.
While I’m sure I got plenty of the techy elements completely wrong, writing about them didn’t make me nervous at all. At least, not nearly as anxious as I got when it came time to tackle a subject I think I know a great deal more about. Sex. After all, I’ve had sex - and more than once! I think I’m pretty good at it too (as Woody Allen said, “well, I practice a lot when I’m alone”).
While I was writing those sexy-bits, one particular notion really hit home: dear gawd, people might actually read this.
And it’s weird. I’ve written sexy scenes before. But they’ve always been in screenplays, and usually the ‘camera’ would simply pan away, at the appropriate moment, to a roaring fireplace, or the train would enter the tunnel and the lights would flicker, obscuring everything from view.
But I didn’t want to wimp out with this book. There would be no ‘panning’ away or jumping ahead. The intimate bits were there for a reason. It’s not that I wanted to go all graphic. Far from it. I don’t enjoy sexy scenes that come across like anatomical survey expeditions. I just didn’t want to shy away from what needed to be a very frank and, I hope, real moment.
So, not only would people be reading these more intimate parts, they were bound to have something to say about them too. I started to feel quite exposed - as a writer, worrying about how my take on sex would be judged, but also as a person, knowing that, to some extent people would know that there’s a lot of me in those ‘behind-closed-doors’ bits, if you know what I mean.
I know no one’s going to read any of the action sequences, and think, “gee, this is how he holds his katana?” But in the sexy parts, let’s face it, we all draw on our own real life experiences, and our fantasies (and those videos we accidentally click on in the spam box).
Now that it's done, I'm glad I didn't shy away or wimp out. And like dropping your trunks on a clothing-optional beach for the first time, it's never quite as scary the second time around.
As Karen (one of the awesome girls from Alcyone) says, "Well, this is really quite invigorating!"