By Kathleen Bradean
The reason we read and write stories is so we can skinwalk in the lives of others. Last time I checked, J R R Tolkien wasn't a hobbit, Agatha Christie never murdered anyone, and Steig Larsson wasn't a petite female computer hacker with eidetic memory and intense trust issues. So writing a story from the point of view of "the other" isn't the difficult part, I think. It's the object of desire -- the girl he wants or the guy he's oogling-- that gives us pause.
OMG! I'm a straight guy and if I write a gay sex scene, people are going to think I'm secretly into men! Or, I'm not turned on by women, so how can I write that convincingly? A writer could stick to their personal preferences, but where's the challenge in that? Women with bobbed haircuts and men with dark curly hair are my sexual obsessions. I don't expect anyone else to feel the same way. So I don't focus on stuff like that. I write about desire, longing, how it feels to want that person. There's no "other" when it comes down to that. Those feelings are universal.
Writing sex is daunting. It's uncomfortable. You'd think erotica writers lose inhibitions as they write sex scenes. We do to some degree because we have to get over the fear of exposure if we're going to let people read our work, but that doesn't mean it's ever easy. Writing in that space remains deeply personal. It's not as if one day you wake up and everything and everyone on earth stokes your libido and you're up for any sexual scenario that people propose. You'd be surprised how many times we have to tell our stalkers that no, really, thank you but I don't want to be kidnapped and become your sex slave even though I've written twenty stories about that scenario. Here, have a restraining order. Oh yes, I insist.
While searching the internet for good quotes about objects of desire I found this poem. It doesn't fit since he's talking about restlessness of spirit and objectless desire, but I can understand that sentiment too. I think there's a bit of writer's envy going on as well. So relatable.
After Reading Antony and Cleopatra
By Robert Louis Stevenson
As when the hunt by holt and field
Drives on with horn and strife,
Hunger of hopeless things pursues
Our spirits throughout life.
The sea's roar fills us aching full
Of objectless desire—
The sea's roar, and the white moon-shine,
And the reddening of the fire.
Who talks to me of reason now?
It would be more delight
To have died in Cleopatra's armsThan be alive to-night.