Balancing the broken parts

I compartmentalise. A lot. A vestige from childhood – little girls learn early and often that intelligence gets you nowhere if you exhibit it; have it by all means, but never ever show it. A vestige of trauma – disassociation, the protective shell of lies one weaves when one pretends everything is okay, and still and forevermore the knowledge that it does change how people see me and treat me and think of me. A vestige of being an outsider, no matter where I am, I guess is what it comes down to.

Which means a startling amount of loneliness, I’ve realised. So few people know me across the board, know this side of me and know the real me and all those messy, broken little parts, and love me for them or in spite of them or alongside them. And I cling to those people like a vine.

Acceptance is the headiest of drugs.

God, I fucking miss it too, when it’s gone. The answer, as always, is to be more honest and open with people but with the absence comes pain too. So the balance comes; who to be open with, who to shy away from, and how to deal when friendships lay dead at your feet.

I don’t subscribe to the idea that dreams, and their symbols, contain something more than narrative heft, but that narrative heft comes from somewhere. I write to make sense of a world that is sometimes too big, too harsh, too hard to understand, and dreams sometimes come from that same space where I can find peace in the scrawl of ink, the shapes of pixels.And so that dream I had, feels weighty. I dreamed last night, of another friend, and an immaculate scrapbook detailing her rape. The flowers and the vintage polka dots and the cute, well-rounded swirls of her handwriting, with words I’d hoped to never have to read (but know I do, over and over, because if I can’t bear witness to another, it makes that loneliness worse). Those memories of being tainted, being less than, being rejected and pushed away for something you had no control over.

And now, choosing to do this, to write what I write while I am also the person I am? That every time I tell somebody what I do, I wonder how they will react. Are they going to assume it means I want to hear about their dicks, or their sex lives? Will they assume I am doing it for my own gratification? (…not always) Are they going to intrude upon my boundaries? So I just…don’t, usually. I don’t ever want to deal with those things (again) and I don’t want to watch relationships fail, because I tried. If they know about the trauma, are they going to use that against me? It makes sense to me – obviously – but others seem to struggle.

So, it’s another part of me I don’t talk about. I’m published, with amazing authors, but I don’t talk about it. Except to a select few.

I don’t talk about my past. Except to a select few.

I don’t talk about a lot of things, even as I make a whole lot of conversational noise. Except to a select few.

And so I cling to all my broken, shattered parts, and I cling to the people who fit alongside those parts like they were always meant to be there, and try to cling to some sort of faith that things will be okay. With battered ripped nails and bleeding fingers I cling, but at least the faith is there right?

the sea, and leaving it

I can tell when things are getting bad, I start to dream about the sea again.

I have a friend, she’s some sort of mermaid, who will swim out beyond the break, out to the boat moorings and back. She could swim before she could walk. I admire that, her salt-rimed hair and skin, teeth white and sharp against the sun and sand and sea.

But when I look at the ocean all I feel is the featureless expanse of death. I lost two of my kin to the deep, as one does in families like mine, but even before then it was something where the fear made more sense than respect. The holding pattern we would be in, waiting to see when the storm ended. I can remember the days being sunny and warm and still but there was a storm out there, out above the waves far from home, so we were waiting by the radio anyway. The sea is danger, and waiting, and holding my breath against the possibilities. It’s the weight of history and my childhood, a past that makes me everything I am and that I can never leave, no matter how far I swim. The saltwater matches the memory of blood in my mouth, but without the iron warmth.

So, you understand what I mean when I say that I can tell when things get bad because the sea creeps into my consciousness, water swelling around my ankles, seeping into my speech, despair rolling over me like a wave. Then it comes into my dreams and I imagine this is what dying feels like, the oblivion of going home.

A few days ago I dreamed of a friend, sitting on the shoreline atop a rock like some siren, as the waves broke over him. He stayed silent, still and smiling, as the waves took more and more of him. I was trying desperately to reach him but all I could do was focus on his face, smiling, as the waves washed the essence right out of him. Until he was transparent, then a Cheshire smile and dark eyes against the grey-green roll of the break, then nothing. Just the ocean and the waves and the memory of where he used to be.

I didn’t wake crying, just…broken open, gasping for breath against the pull of the water. Like the silence when you go under, the pressure and the darkness behind your eyelids.

I’ll surface again, I always have, but for now I’m holding my breath against the temptation to let go and follow a song into the deep.

out of practice

I’ve been out of the loop for a little while. I described it to one of my editors as ‘life hit, hard’. Between one thing and another I haven’t had the time, or the energy, to do much more than the work that puts a roof over my head (as opposed to the work that puts a damp patch between my thighs).

One of the things that turned up just before I went radio silent was this, from Oleander Plume. It was sort of serendipitous, in that one of my reasons for going dark was a reoccurence of my own PTSD symptoms, but also because I’d been explaining to my therapist about being an erotica author who was sobbing on the couch because sometimes unexpected sexual innuendo is triggering.

It seems to be something that other erotica authors get, but not all that many others.

I write porn, I write the things I write, because of the demons of my memory. Because the more I write, the less those memories can do to ambush me. What I write is the safest space of all, just me and my page, and nothing happens there without my consent. Sure, I have a great partner but he is not a mind-reader, he can sometimes, still, more than a decade in, stumble and then I’m shivering in fear on the edge of our bed wondering how I got there. I have gret friends but sometimes there’s a combination of words that makes the bile rise in my throat and my vision narrow to a point. The page though? With my hands on the keyboard?

That’s the safest space there is.

I’m resurfacing, slowly, trying to mend all the damage I did when I went under, but the blank page doesn’t even need that. I can just start up again without a problem.

bad oral advice

I was unfortunately on a call with some buddies when I read this article. The noise I made was evocative enough that when I said “god, I just read a thing in an advice article that made me shudder” they needed no more explanation. Much like the Vice article on the same topic, my body fucking recoils with the amount of no. So let’s break it down for the two articles shall we. From the ‘offending’ paragraph of the first:

Part her pussy lips and lick all around her clitoris; don’t start sucking on it just yet, as that can be too intense for some women before they are actually ready for it.

Yes on the no sucking yet, no on the licking of my fucking labia jesus christ. That just doesn’t fucking work for me and no, it’s not ‘ramping up’ to anything. There’s a world of sensation between nothing and sucking. A goddamn world so explore that for crying out loud, rather than licking another thing entirely.

Can you imagine if blow job advice was like this? “some men find straight out hoovering too intense before they’re ready, so just lick their groin”. This isn’t even equivalent to ball-licking, which I understand to be quite pleasureable. Going down and licking my labia is just…weird and offputting.

Stiffen your fingers and slide 2 into her while still tonguing around her clit.

Sucking is too much but slip some fingers in, that’s fine…

Experiment with different pressures and strokes. For example, use the tip of your tongue in a gentle flickering motion, (think of a snake’s tongue,)

No, no fucking NO. I swear I will find the fucking arsehole responsible for this flicking goddamn nonsense and flick them with a rubber band until they cry. Don’t, ever, flick sensitive parts of my anatomy with anything unless we’ve specifically arranged this scene and have safe words. Even if it’s painless, it’s awkward and unpleasant and boring.

and then flatten it to give broader strokes.

Why end with the gentlest sensation? Seriously, why end with the most soft and sensible tongue movement. Why flick first? Who the fuck wrote this?

Blow gently on her clit and see her reaction; note: never blow into the vagina itself as this can be dangerous.

A: always watch her reaction

B: you’ve deadened sensation with the flicking, abandon all hope mate, blowing air ain’t gonna do shit.

Now, Vice, you pack of bastards, I still remember reading this piece of shit and outright fucking flinching.

When you’re just about ready to do the deed, start practicing on that weird crevice next to the lips. Don’t spend too long there or she might start to think that you think that’s the actual cunt.

No. Just…no. See above about why it’s weird but if you’re going down on a woman for the first time why do something that might make her think you’re useless? Even if she knows you’re good at it, why pretend?

By now she should be dying for you to make your move. If you’re doing it right, she’ll be moaning and trying to force your head between her legs.

Because you’re not performing cunnilingus yet you tool.

Extra trick: Hover over the bush for about five seconds before the first lick. If you wait longer than that, she might think you’re having second thoughts because it smells bad. Of course, we all know that motherfucker smells sweeter than a bowl of steamin’ crawdaddies.

Please don’t do anything in this paragraph, including comparing my cunt to crawdaddies.

Important: Never bite the cunt in any way whatsoever. If this needs more explaining you should probably just stick to jerking off.

You’re not the boss of me, fucking useless tool who hasn’t gotten to cunt eating yet.

Parting the Red Seas

Oh so we’re period playing now, or are you eating out a redhead, or…no, just more shitty shitty writing Vice ‘style’.

Isolate your playing field. Pubic hairs are to eating pussy what the Cavity Creeps are to dental hygiene. You’re never going to be able to identify all the parts if she looks like that PiL album That What Is Not. One hot trick is to get her to spread her lips apart so her pussy is all set up for you like a great big buffet.

Okay, I get the pubes thing, but again can we not slag off women’s bodies in their natural state? While ostensibly being all ‘woo yeah cunt eating’? And no, don’t get me to spread my lips you lazy shit you’ve fucking done nothing but nuzzle my thigh ditch and stare at my cunt.

Do your first lick super slow. It’s good to groan and moan too. It shows you’re digging it while sending microscopic audiophonic vibrations right up her snapper. Start just above the anus and take it all the way to the fur. Do about a dozen of these “St. Bernard licks” before moving on (take it really slow, like four seconds per lick). This is a good time to figure out what kind of clit she has. If it’s real sensitive, she’ll probably convulse as you pass over it and that means you’re in for an easy ride. If there’s no reaction when you graze over her clit, she probably has one of those nerveless little pea clits and you’re in for a thirty-minute session of tongue tendinitis.

Okay, this starts out alright…snapper…if a little unimaginative. Then we hit nerveless little pea clits and I want to break shit.

6) Rock the Boat
Eating pussy is so gentle it can make you feel like a bit of a fag. If you’re getting tired of being ballerina boy, take it out on the clit. Figure out how much abuse it can take without making her uncomfortable and show the little bastard who’s boss.

Get fucked, not by me, you pathetic little shit.

After all, Mr. Elusive is precisely what makes muff diving so difficult. He’s surrounded by labia and, even after you find him, all the pressure can pop him over to the side. All of a sudden you’re giving the pee hole the seeing-to of its life. Think of the clit as a tumor in a pile of earlobes. When you push down on the area he’s the only one that can’t be squished. Once one of your tongue troopers finds him, call for reinforcements. Use your lips to get hers out of the way and focus all your attention into getting him alone. Once you find him, give him a bit of a hard time for trying to hide from you. Frisk him and give him a couple of whacks across the head. More on this punk and his bad attitude later.
Extra important tip: The best way to stimulate the clit is to run your entire tongue over it after you isolate it from the lips. The man in the boat should feel the texture of the entire tongue pushing down on his body and his boat.

Apparently my clit is a dude? Who knew, that’s brilliant. *drowns herself in a kiddie pool of gin*

And this is why most men are shit at cunnilingus, FYI. Don’t get me wrong I fucking love me some powergames in bed but jesus christ you arsewipe, don’t ‘whack’ my clit on his (!!!) head. Goddamnit. This isn’t fucking rocket magic. Again, imagine the blow job version: “his cock will try and demand entrance to your throat, gently redirect by pulling his pubic hair away from his body to reinforce this is undesireable behaviour”.

(The last tip is the only decent bit of advice so far and we’re still referring to my clitoris as a dude)

7) Identifying the Clit Type
After the slow licks it’s time to get this party started. There are essentially two types of clitori: ones that enjoy a serious going-over and ones that don’t. The latter suck about as much as a one-inch penis and you should dump her right away.
Extra tip: Clits come in all shapes, sizes, and sensitivities, but that doesn’t really tell you much. All of them want to be treated slow and soft at the beginning, but the only way to tell if you can go fast at the end is by reading her reactions. This is impossible to teach, but just do the best you can. All we can tell you is convulsing means take it ease and “Oh my God” means bring it on.

Thanks bro, for slagging on small cocks and sensitive clits, particularly since you referred to unsensitive ones giving you tongue ‘tendinitis’. Good work. Solid writing, excellent advice.

*reads further*

Oh wait, clits that don’t like serious ‘going overs’ are unsensitive ones? What? I dont?

*crawls back into the kiddie pool*

I can’t do this anymore, this is terrible. For something more positive, even though it’s still Vice style, at least this sounds like it’s closer to working on cunts. So go read that. Or just, you know, listen to your partner.

don’t you just love good feedback?

It’s a little bit praise kink, a little bit affirmation, a lot bit validation.

There’s nothing like someone saying ‘god, that was hot’ about your work*. And nothing better than them getting it. Seeing those bits of romance, or rawness, or connection, that you peppered through your work.

I need to review more, if only to give out some of the love I’ve been getting.

*even more when it’s got the coda that they’re thinking about that kink differently, or about that kind of scene in a different light. That you’ve opened their eyes.

Having a porntastic career

Not in the sense that you actually do any sex work. In the sense that you work in a highly fetishised career. I imagine nurses, firefighters, cops, doctors and others have some similar feelings, but I was a librarian.

And not just a ‘lady who works in the library’. I have glasses – black-rimmed plastic usually. I habitually wear my hair in a bun, so it doesn’t get caught under bag straps or yanked by children. I have a 50s sort of shape. I wear pencil skirts and cardigans and stockings in the cold. In short, I look like a librarian. To the point people think I’m being sarcastic when I describe what I do.

This can bring out some interesting things in people, mostly men. When you’re new, someone takes you aside and warns you about the creepers. The calls, that start out normal, and draw you in, and ask you to read out all of Nancy Friday’s titles for example, with requests to repeat them. The patrons who request books from the top shelf, or the bottom, and need your help. The ones who write you poetry (my body is no mere vessel, it is a chalice, according to one wordsmith).

I do not say this to brag (lest certain people are reading) but to explain the way I’ve been treated as a librarian, with a Masters degree, based on fetishes people have. Based on old scripts.

And I get it. A friend of mine has explained his own attraction to librarians (“I assume you’re smart, and if you’re hot too, and surrounded by books, and you’re funny, it’s just really really hot.”) and I get it. I read this and Jesus Christ do I get the appeal of the library. I write erotica specifically because I love the power of words who who wields that in a more overt and easily codified way than librarians (…maybe literature professors? Which is my other career?)?

But I also read that piece and think ‘oh man I have to clean up after that’ and ‘you might think you’re discreet but you aren’t’ and ‘other library fuckers are not so kind’. So it’s a fraught topic for me.

And like all fraught topics I’m gonna write myself some library porn. Look for an excerpt coming up soon.

Condoms and BDSM::safe sex and SSC/RACK – responsibilities of writing erotica

I’ve been thinking about this for a few days.

I was a librarian when Fifty Shades of Grey hit big time. Latex gloves on check in, constantly updating paperback stocks, my assistant coming in wide-eyed and shellshocked because her mother took her copy and told the poor girl that “oh me and your dad are reading it together”. It was a good time in the library, we had lots of discussions about the role of porn in the collection, about censorship, about young people’s access to sexually explicit material (that wasn’t contravened by law) and so on.

I kept my views on the realism of the BDSM to myself. Apart from any issues around disclosure and my job (the children’s librarian talking about BDSM does some things to people), I hadn’t read it, didn’t want to deal. Plus, y’know, I’ve read some shit. Not just erotica, but fanfic and online erotica and I’ve spent a lot of time talking and researching the way people use literature and writing to explore and expose issues. So unsafe, dumbass, ridiculous BDSM is something pretty damn common in my reading-of-erotic-stuff experience.

I’m not entirely sure why it is I have more of a problem with unsafe sex than with unsafe BDSM being represented in erotica. I think part of it is experience, in that unsafe BDSM practices aren’t always ‘unsafe’ – established long-term partnerships tend to have a connection that changes how certain kinks are practiced, and the experience of both partners makes a difference (someone with years of rope experience can gauge and understand knots better than someone who might have watched a few videos). It doesn’t technically change all that much of the risk – breathplay for example doesn’t really change according to experience – but there is a difference. Fucking without a condom, without a discussion/understanding about pregnancy and STD just doesn’t get the same leeway from me.

So I’ve been thinking about it all a fair bit, reading what other authors think about condoms in their work, but also the reactions to Fifty Shades of Grey. About the elided spaces between realistic and real, the norm and the normal. Unsafe sex, unsafe BDSM, are actually normal – in the sense they are common and regular – but aren’t ideal. Particularly I think for BDSM, where there’s an enormous cultural imperative to emphasise safety. And condomless unsafe sex gets a bit of the ‘not me (except when I make a mistake, not like those other habitually unsafe people)’ treatment.

But what does it all come down to for me? That I’m happy writing barely negotiated, or unnegotiated, scenes but I can’t write a scene without a condom in a mileu that I expect one? That I write condom use with genital-genital contact but not other penetrations/fluid swaps? Because those things are certainly true. There’s a division in my head that isn’t necessarily a fair one. But it is there, and I am thinking about it.

disparate inspirations

  • getting a thorough patdown at a European airport, standing atop a box while a white haired gentleman (ha!) squeezes along my limbs, stroking up and down over my body but it isn’t until he grabs my waist, a direct mimic of that motion that precedes a thorough fucking from behind, that I begin to blush
  • trying to explain to a friend that weight is not a turn off, realising I cannot put into words the desire to rub my face against the curve and juncture of someone’s belly before pleasuring them with my mouth without going from ‘conversation’ to ‘dirty talk’
  • fucking in the summer sweat and humidity, rain and thunder and lightning putting me on edge
  • my lover’s tongue in my mouth and his hand in my hair pulling me up with the taste of his cock still on mine
  • seeing a woman with her hands on the tools in her belt, a twist of humour on her lips
  • drops of water in dark salt and pepper hair
  • the dark, terrible, curl of the word ‘whore’ said with a soft accent
  • the interminable, undefinable, what if

Behind Automatic Transmission

Oh, Automatic Transmission, so very close to my heart. Firstly, it is with Violet. Fucking. Blue. in Best Women’s Erotica 2015. Oh god, that was one of those fannish moments where my brain shorts out for a little while. Violet Blue. Jesus.

Anyway.

Automatic Transmission has its roots in a few things:

  • the gamer who was casting and forgot and loaded up some porn and started masturbating so people not only could see him take himself in hand, but also what he was doing it to;
  • my own indecent level of interest in men’s hands on their cocks;
  • stupid shitty apps and websites with godawful privacy;
  • the amount of times people have forgotten to mute their microphone while having intimate conversations with their partners while the rest of us in the game listen and pretend not to.

So those four things gave rise to another story sans ‘proper fucking’ but replete with the power differentials that I adore. There are a few reviews out, Amos Lassen for one, and some from fellow writers like Tamsin Flowers, Malin James

Also. Violet Blue. *faints dead away*

Behind On My Honor

And we take a hard right into historicals. On My Honor (in Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors edited by Delilah Devlin) is a bit of a departure from my previous two pubs. No kink, really, no power struggles (…mostly) and, in a fit of inspiration, no actual fucking. Oh there’s orgasms and cocks and quims and wetness and filthiness, and a bath, but there’s no PIV sex.

I explain my reasoning here.

This was my third pub, and being the cool, calm and collected graceful lady I am, when I got the acceptance I responded with ‘uh, did you mean to send this to me?’ (sorry Delilah!) (Delilah Devlin is also a totally lovely editor, and I loved working with her). The promotional aspect of writing was a challenge for me, and a departure from previous pubs as well.