This month, Rhobin wants us to discuss some aspect of sex in writing. OK, here is my take.
At one time, I did regular editing for a publisher that had an erotic imprint. Like it or not, I had to read books full of explicit sexual content.
These books put me right off. I couldn’t stand the pages-long, detailed descriptions of bodies rubbing together in various ingenious and/or repetitive ways. They did not titillate me or turn me on; just the opposite. Not that I am a prude. My problem was not a moral judgment, or disapproval, but more impatience: “Get on with it!”
Imagine a rock climbing scene. Our hero is ascending the cliffside. The writer chooses to focus in on the minutiae: every hand and foot movement is painstakingly described. I suppose that may be interesting to someone whose life centres around rock climbing, but to anyone else, it very soon becomes a yawn.
I find the same to be true for body-climbing, or anything else. Too much focus on the one thing is, well, too much.
Sex is a part of life. It is a major focus for vigorous young people. It can be an obsessive preoccupation for those who are lonely and desperately seek love. It is a way of scoring on the social scene for the successful. It can even be a form of revenge when relationships are a battlefield. It can be the essence of a terrible form of violence. So, my writing often needs to include sexual scenes.
The short story, Dummies in Dimensional Drive, which is part of Bizarre Bipeds, has a joyful explicit sex scene, simply because the story needs it. But it’s only 325 words. It is there as a necessary component, not as a major focus.
Guardian Angel has a terrible rape scene. I hated writing it, but the story could not be told without it. And the following scene immediately corrects the emotional feel of the story. If Maraglindi can unconditionally love her murderer, then who am I to do otherwise?
Fiction is about emotion. Read this short passage from Ascending Spiral, and tell me: would it be more powerful or less powerful if it had a lot of sexually explicit description?
- Then there was the spring day she proposed to me — as always, she led and I followed.
I had to get a load of furs from the tanning shed, and harnessed our mare Blackie to the cart. As I headed up into the hills, Maeve came running after me. “I’m coming with you,” she said, blue eyes glinting with mischief.
“What will your mother say?”
She laughed. “It’s easier to say sorry after than to ask permission.” We soon arrived, and piled the cart full. I gave Blackie a drink while Maeve gazed up at the breathtaking beauty of the flower-covered hillside.
“Dermot, come here,” she ordered, and I came. We meandered all over with my arm around her shoulder, hers around my waist, till she stopped, near the edge of a sudden drop, with the sea below. I had the feeling that I’d been like this before, with her, in just such a place, but of course I knew this couldn’t be true.
She turned to face me, eyes luminous, mouth slightly open.
I raised my hands, and stroked her face from temples to chin.
She stepped even closer. I felt both love and lust for her. I gently pulled her head toward me. She came willingly, and as we kissed, her arms went around me and she hugged me so I felt her breasts against my chest. My erection almost hurt, although this was anything but lewd: more like religious worship in feeling.
As my hands held her shoulders, she wriggled, like a cat relishing a stroke does. “Dermot,” she murmured, “it’s time you and me got married.”
It was arranged with Father Liam, for three weeks ahead.
Word came the next week: rebellion had broken out. The village was abuzz. Maeve came to me. “You’re going, aren’t you?”
“I have to go.”
“Yes, and you may not come back. I want your child, in case…”
We didn’t need to talk, just walked up above the tanning shed, into the field of flowers, and there gently undressed each other. Naked, she looked even more lovely. Often have I wished I were a sculptor, so I could make a statue of her.
With the soft green grass caressing our skin, our bodies and spirits became as one. Then it was my time to go to war.
Please answer my question, or make any other comment you like. Everyone doing so will be rewarded with a warm feeling of satisfaction. Then visit these other participants in Rhobin’s Rounds and see what you can see.