Sunday, 13 March 2011

Writing About Sex

I appear to have been indulging my darker side in writing recently, and a fair bit of what I've been writing has involved sex of some kind. In fact, you could term some of the pieces I have written erotica. This is interesting in a number of ways, not least of which how I feel about it.

I'm quite uncomfortable about that act of writing about sex. I have no problem writing a scene in which my characters fight their way through a group of soldiers, even though I have zero real-life expertise in that area and that more than likely shows. Get me writing about two characters getting it on however, and I'll blush and generally demand that nobody read the result, not even myself, lest I be shown to be a laughing stock, even though I have far more experience in this matter.

This probably stems from a few things. One is the idea that someone will read what I've written and tell me that it's not realistic; that what I've described can't actually happen. This is, to be fair, unlikely. There's also the idea that by sharing this writing I am sharing some intimate part of myself. This just isn't true. My characters are not me. They may contain aspects of me, but they are separate entities. If I write about a character who is racist, it doesn't mean that I myself am racist. In the same way, if I write about a character having sex, it doesn't reflect my specific thoughts or experiences of sex. Nonetheless, the nature of the subject at hand somehow makes it feel like it's that way.

I recently plucked up the courage to share a short piece of writing with some friends which was based around two characters having sex. I was nervous about sending it to them, and feared what they would think of me after they had read it. All of them liked it though, and they all gave good feedback. Part of me was actually taken aback by this. I almost wanted to shout at them, 'What are you talking about? It's sex! I just wrote about two people having sex! You should be appalled by this! Be appalled!'

I suspect a large part of this comes down to the normal British prudishness, mixed with the fact that I was quite firmly in my shell until a couple of years ago. Of course, it probably wouldn't do to have sex thrown about willy nilly (hee, I just said willy), and there's a time and a place. Still, it interests me that we can have such a stigma around writing about this particular subject when it's a normal part of life, and when that time and place comes around surely we should be able to accept it like adults instead of giggling in the corner like schoolchildren?

I'm warning you, I've got a very nasty notion.