I’ve never had a chance to go to college so everything I’ve learned I’ve had to teach myself as best I can. Most of what I’ve been able to grasp about the art of narrative fiction I’ve learned from studying books on craft. One of the best books, maybe the best book, on writing erotic fiction I’ve ever read is “How to Tell a Dirty Story” by Suzie Bright.
This book is especially good for people who are coming to the craft new and want to learn how to tell erotic stories with humanity and compassion. This book is filled with discussions and specific writing exercises that are practically therapeutic. The exercises themselves, whether you ever publish a word or not are priceless journeys of self-exploration.
One of the really outstanding exercises in this book is one I want to share here and how it works. It’s simple, straight forward and in its way – universal. It is offered in the context of erotic fiction but it could just as well be about any topic you want to explore.
There are three topics. With a paper and pen, reluctantly a keyboard, write for about five minutes without stopping on these three topics. Write close to your unconscious and let your mind travel. Here are the three topics, and you can learn a lot about yourself from them:
1. Spend five minutes or so writing about an erotic act, that, if you had a chance to do this, actually do this in real life – you would jump on it. Without hesitation, oh mama, I would definitely do this thing and it’s a thing I could do.
2. Spend five minutes or so writing about an erotic act that if you had a chance to do this you’d, well, whoa, maybe, yeah but I – uh – maybe under the right circumstances. But if those right circumstances could be realistically met, yeah, I’d take a deep breath and definitely do this. Then. If then. If the right circumstances were met.
3. Spend five minutes writing about something impossible. Something you would never do but it’s hot to think about. Either its something too balls-nasty to do in real life, or maybe its something that can’t be done in real life.
I won’t tell you what number 1 and 2 are for me – but I will tell you about my number 3.
My highest spiritual value is compassion. Compassion in the Buddhist sense of empathy, not pity. Connectedness with the people of the world, especially the people in your world. Acting and fiction writing are unique art forms in that they require you to inhabit other people. Either the characters that you are creating or the character that someone has created that you are playing. How does it feel to be that person.
My number three?
I would like to be a woman.
Just for a while.
A few hours. A day maybe.
I don’t mean transgender. I’m perfectly happy being a man, I don’t have any issues with that. What I mean is, I’ve experienced myself and the world I live in as a male being. I’m a male persona inhabiting a male body. I pee standing up. I’ve experienced pleasure and release with a woman from the experience of being a man. But what does it feel like to be a woman if you;ve never had that experience? To have a woman’s original persona, inhabiting a woman’s original body? What’s it like to have a period? What’s it like for a young girl when she has her first period? Is it scarey? How does it feel to move through the world as a woman? How does the world respond to you as a female? It must be different in many ways from being a man. How does a woman’s body experience erotic pleasure and release? It must feel different in so many ways.
A woman has to experience her own vulnerability, to open herself and receive. Receiving the thrust of the phallus, then if she’s pregnant a life inhabits her within. Up until recently it was very common for women to die a gruesome screaming bloody death in childbirth. Up until the turn of the century a woman becoming pregnant after 30 was regarded as a death sentence. What would it have been like to live two hundred years ago and be thirty years old and discover you’re pregnant?
That’s compassion. That’s empathy. That’s spiritual. What’s it feel like to be that guy over there? How does it feel to be that guy with the funny accent and funny clothes? How does he feel to be an immigrant, a stranger in a strange land?
To me that’s spiritual.
And by the way, when I wondered what it was like to be a woman – I asked people. I did my home work, wrote a story about it and sold it.
What would your third wish be?