Sunday, February 27, 2011

Every Breath You Take

By Lisabet Sarai

Inspiration by lordarq

It's the first word of my very first novel. "Breathe..." In this case, I was using the term literally. My heroine arrives in Bangkok and is immediately assaulted with the foreign smell of the place. I still remember my own debarkation, back in the eighties, before jet ways. Clambering down the metal stairs onto the tarmac, after midnight, I nearly swooned at the combination of diesel fuel, moist earth, night-blooming jasmine, and fried garlic.

If you write erotica, breathing is more than an autonomic process responsible for oxygenating the blood. Arousal reveals itself in our breathing. We pant, gasp, gulp air, hold it as we wait in anticipation or delicious terror for the next touch, the next stroke of the crop. I did a search for "breath" in the random subset of my stories I happen to have on my disk in text format. Here's a small sampling of what I found.

The song changed to something more upbeat. She shook her hips, did the same bumps and grinds as the other dancers, but the effect was totally different. She was listening to some inner voice. Every now and again her eyes would meet mine, and that luscious smile would light her face. I found myself holding my breath, willing her to turn again in my direction. ~ Butterfly

His beard was softer than it looked, tickling her. For a moment he simply held her, breathing in, inhaling her as if she were another drug. Suddenly there was shocking wetness. His tongue circled her navel, dipped inside. Her sex clenched in a sudden, delicious spasm. ~ Chemistry

All at once I wanted him. I grabbed him and fastened my mouth on his, grinding my pelvis against his hardness. He opened to me, held me tight as if he was afraid I would evaporate. “Where can we go?” I panted when we broke for breath. ~ Citadel of Women

Alan relaxes in his chair, enjoying Beryl's confusion. He's been in the film business long enough to recognize an act. Her flushed cheeks and quickened breath speak more clearly than her deliberately chosen words. She still wants me, he thinks with a hint of smugness, after all this time. ~ Old Flame

I bask in his gaze, proud and humble simultaneously. "You know what happens when you tease me. I'm sure that you remember the other night." Of course I do, and the memory leaves me wet and breathless: the binding, the beating, the final delicious buggering. My sex overflows. My thighs are slippery with my juices. I imagine he can hear the liquid squelch as I walk. His arm is around my shoulder now, guiding me along. ~ Wednesday Night at Rocky's Ace Hardware

"Much better." She flicks a lock away from my breast, almost but not quite touching me. "But I certainly don't want to hide those adorable tits." Seating herself on the chaise, she beckons me to her. My nipples are just at the level of her lips. She warms one with her breath, and it tightens visibly. I want to scream, to beg her to touch me. She's running this show, though. We both know that. ~ Velvet

I could go on, but I'm sure that I've made my point. The way our characters breathe tells our readers what they're feeling, as much as their facial expressions or vocalizations, their wetness or hardness. And in an erotic encounter, lovers use their breath as an extension of their will.

Breathing is more than just a tool for delineating emotion, though. Breath is also a powerful metaphor for life itself. Some versions of Genesis say that God animated the clay body of Adam by breathing upon it. "I'll never give in, while there's breath in my body," our dauntless heroes claim.

Breath is also used to refer to the spark of creative passion. The word "inspiration" derives from from the Latin inspiratus, past participle of inspirare "inspire, inflame, blow into," from in-"in" + spirare "to breathe". The connection to the term "spirit" is obvious. In fact the original meaning of inspiration was "under the immediate influence of a God or god".

"Inflame". How appropriate a term for a writer of erotica!

When inspiration strikes - when the words are flowing unhindered, the scenes in my imagination painting themselves effortlessly on the page - I do indeed have the sense that I've been touched by something divine. I feel it in my chest, a kind of buoyancy, as though I'd filled my lungs with helium. My poor body seems too limited a vessel to encompass the joy.

I wrote a poem many years ago about inspiration, called "metapoem":

it comes as the wind comes
and you can't change it.
you can only be patient
and open
and humble.
in glimmers,
in floods,
it comes.

you have to be
reverent -
silent -
or else
go out and get drunk,
forget it
to find it.

Inspiration, the author's Holy Grail. It's mysterious and yet simple. As simple as breathing.


  1. Hi Lisabet

    When I first heard this topic I was kind of WTF, but over time I got it. Breathing isn;t covered in craft books, but its very much a part of a characters expression in a scene, exactly as you say. Our breathing has a lot to do with our state of mind, which is why most mediation methods have something to say about what your breath and diaphragm should be doing when you're meditating. Also, truly, most of the How to Fuck Great books also have a lot to say about breathing as a way of communication during the great deed. When a man is going down on a woman, and wonders how things are coming along way up north, he listens to her breathing, because an individual has a certain way of breathing when she's becoming very excited and then just before and then during orgasm. My wife makes a sharp percussive grunt when she comes, I hear myself make this strained wheezing sound like I've been running fast up stairs until the feeling passes through me. It would be interesting to take a little survey on blogger comments this week - how do you breathe the moment when you come?

    Excellent post. Unexpectedly erotic subject.


  2. Hello, Garce,

    I wanted to talk about Tantric Sex, where breath control is part of the discipline. And the important role of breathing in a BDSM scene, letting the pain flow in and out. And a number of other topics... but I didn't want my post to get to long.

    The topic can ramify. I'm looking forward to seeing what the other Grippers do with it.


  3. What a lovely poem. And so true that breath is something we as writers of erotica tend to pay special attention to.

    I always love dropping by here, Lisabet. great post, and great blog. Thanks.

  4. Hi, Jaime,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. You're always welcome...!

  5. Breath is so intimate. It feathers across the skin, it warms, raising goose flesh (along with aniticipation). Where there is breath there are lips and that in itself is very erotic. Nice snippets Lisabet.

  6. Hi, Lisabet. Really enjoyed your topic today. Breathing is something I spend a lot of time thinking about as I move through levels of yoga. In my candlelight class, which is so challenging physically, it's at times on the edge of what I think I can manage, it's all I can do to focus on it, and at other times it's the soft hush, like the ocean.


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