by Kathleen Bradean
Have you ever written about your lovers?
Hmm. Yes, and no. Next question?
Oh. You want me to expand on that answer. Well, hmm. I've never turned on the literary hidden camera and preserved a... what does one call it? Sexual encounter? An episode? A tryst? Anyway, I've never written about one of mine from start to finish with any attempt at historical accuracy. Mostly because when it's good, I roll over and fall asleep. I'm such a romantic. But really, try to cuddle with me after an intense orgasm and we will have words. Mine will be, "Go away." Yours better be, "Sorry," or better yet, silence as you get on your own damn side of the bed.
I would never write that in a story.
I haven't written about most of my lovers since-- let's be honest here-- the average person makes for a terrible character. They aren't extreme enough to be interesting to read about, and extreme people in real life are too high maintenance to have an affair with. As an example, my latest passion, the TV show Sherlock. In real life, if you lived with someone like Sherlock, chances are that you'd (okay, I'd) take a baseball bat to him one evening as he plucked that damned violin for three hours straight. Not to mention that he'd probably be terrible in bed. But I'm sure there's already scads of erotic fan fic about him, and probably quite a bit of it is slash* with Sherlock and Watson. But without looking to verify this guess, I doubt there's as much erotic fan fic about Watson sans Sherlock, even though in real life Watson would be the far better lover of the two. Since I haven't done jail time for assault with a deadly weapon, you can assume that in real life, I haven't had a Sherlock lover. But I know that readers don't want a Watson; they want the Sherlocks. That's my best writer's reason for not using my real lovers as characters.
However, I have written about one truly terrible real life sexual encounter that reflects so poorly on my skills in bed that it comes off as a comedic piece. And I wrote it with enough true details that it's possible that she'd recognize herself. I have mixed feelings about telling that story. Not because I'm embarrassed about my part (well, yes I am, but if you can't cringe at your past, you don't have one) but because I feel like a cad sharing what she had every right to expect was a private moment. Thankfully, she's the only one who could point to a story and say, "That bitch wrote about me!"
I've grown stealthier about sharing things. Now I start off with characters and plots that are emphatically not me or past lovers until I reach the point in the story that must ring true. That's when I tap into those affairs that left deep impressions. I dredge up the emotions and physical responses and for a paragraph or two bare my past to readers. Old lovers won't know, because no one ever knows what's going on in your head or what sensations you're feeling. Old lovers won't see themselves in the characters. Readers won't know because it's hidden within a story-- or if you prefer, a morsel of truth wrapped in pretty lies and indistinguishable from the rest. But what I write in those paragraphs is the real thing. Like orgasms, that's something I don't fake.
* Slash. If you read erotica or fan fic you're probably aware of it, but if this is a new term for you, slash is m/m (male slash male) fiction. There's also f/f and other variations, but when someone says slash, they usually mean male, although not necessarily gay even if it includes male on male sex. Slash is a complicated topic. I'm not even going to try to address all the nuances here. Just take it to mean here that the fan fic with Sherlock and Watson probably portrays them as lovers.