On the subject of writing or reading sex scenes, I’ve said before that I prefer those that are less graphic and leave more to the imagination. Recently, I’ve had to reexamine that notion as it applies to my writing. There are lots of things that I hope to accomplish with writing, one of them is to always improve. Part of that requires having an open mind about change and being willing to stretch my boundaries. It doesn’t mean not being true to myself, but rather, continuing to discover all of my hidden truths. I firmly believe that one’s best writing comes from a place of honesty. Unfortunately, circumstances of life often leave our truths buried by any number of negative emotions or misperceptions.
I’ve been working very hard on my next novel, Step into the Wind. A smart woman raised the possibility that in writing sex scenes I was holding back because I was being shy about them. Out of respect for her, and my desire to improve my writing every step of the way, I took a step back and evaluated the possibility as honestly as I could. She was right.
The first thing I reminded myself of is that I am romance writer. While I intend to always try to tap into the difficult issues that lesbians face in the everyday real world, at the end of the day, romance is a key component to the stories that I’ve written and hope to continue to write. Good sex is part of good romance. So why not write about it in a more honest way?
The next question I addressed was whether I was holding back because of who might read my work. Sticking with the goal of being honest, I had to answer “yes.” There are two older straight women in my life who I adore. One is ninety-two and the other eight-four. They are like mothers to me and I have the utmost respect and love for them. Their support of me over the years has been unflinching, and they’ve both read my first novel, My Soldier Too. The idea of writing a particularly graphic sex scene knowing that they will read it, made me nervous to think about. But, here’s the thing. I’m not writing romance for them, I’m writing it for lesbians who enjoy romance. The truth is, I know deep down that they’ll love me even if I write something they don’t understand or are comfortable with. They’ve already proven that to me by accepting and supporting my relationship with KC all of the many years that I’ve known them. Maybe I wasn’t giving them credit where credit is due.
The last question I toyed with was whether my hesitation had more to do with my own prudishness than anything else. It’s funny the things one discovers when looking into a mirror with eyes wide open. What I saw was indeed a shy girl only willing to put a toe into the water rather than diving right in, so to speak. The realization I came to is that whatever I write will always be better if I let it come from a place deep inside that is authentic and unrestrained. That rule isn’t only for writing, but whatever we do in life, sex included. Whether on the page or under the covers, the best sex is that which is honest, authentic and unrestrained.
So, I sat down, took off my shy-girl-hat, and rewrote the sex scenes in my next novel. I let the words loose without restraint. Phew, that was fun, and definitely better than the first draft. I love those opportunities in life to learn something about myself that lets me live freer and more honest than before. Peace.