Monday, September 17, 2012

The Object of Desire

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 arms
   Than be alive to-night.


  1. Stalkers? I'll take what I can get.

    It is true that its hard to write this genre in the beginning, a person has to get past a lot. I think that;s what makes it such a challenge and a thrill when it works.

    Do you ever write erotica just for yourself sometimes? I do.


  2. Kathleen,

    I've never seen this poem before, but it resonates. "Objectless desire" has a purity to it that could easily work its way into a story.

    Funny, but I've never found the exposure aspect of erotica difficult. In fact, it was the need to expose myself, to express my desires, that pushed me into writing in the first place.

  3. Garce - Do I ever write erotica for myself? Yes, but no one would recognize the part that turns me on as the erotic bits. For the first time in ages, I will have a story up on ERWA (in October for La Petite Mort theme). That one I wrote for myself. I was feeling quite passionate about words and decided to roll around the floor in them, grapple naked with some phrases, and perhaps lick one or two.

  4. Lisabet - I almost envy your exhibitionist streak with your work. It's agony for me. And I never trust praise.

    Remittance Girl got me mulling over the nature of desire when she mentioned that erotica is about how we handle it. Although the poem didn't really fit my article, as soon as I read "hunger of hopeles things pursues our spirits throughout life," I saw the connection to themes and ideas churning in my brain and had to share it.

  5. Well-said, as usual, Kathleen. The fear of gossip is what inhibited me when I first started writing erotica, and I still feel guilty sometimes that I might be exposing my spouse to sarcastic speculation (who are my characters really based on?), even though I avoid writing about sexy Latinas (a lot to give up) for fear of exposing her to undeserved smirking. My NON-erotic writing gave rise to smirks and speculation, so I think I've become hardened to that for myself. (Ya gotta develop a tough hide to survive as a writer of anything.)

  6. Jean - I can take the criticism, but the speculation, as you pointed out, is harder to endure. I've written one story that sort of almost if you squint just right resembles my real life relationship. Of course, I'm not saying which one. (but it's a good bet that it isn't one of the gay erotica stories)