The first story I ever self-published, Carnal Theory, began as a comedic scenario where a woman, bluntly and in great detail, informs her lover that he is terrible in bed. That was it. That was all I had. I didn’t even have character names yet. I just loved the idea of a woman tearing down a man, not maliciously, but as a genuine attempt to tell him he sucked between the sheets (and not in a good way).

Slowly, and in fits and starts, details came to me, but so did many questions. Who was the woman? Who was the man? Could there be anything behind the comedy? And more importantly…could I build an entire story around awkward conversations?

It took time, which is a statement I think any writer will understand. But soon enough, the woman became Dr. Elizabeth Spencer, a brilliant behavioral researcher who’d spent years being disappointed by her lovers, until she encountered the one man who flummoxed her enough to make her fall in love.

Self-publishing was a long and arduous process, (I have all the computer savvy of a brazil nut) but in the end, it was one of my greatest achievements. I felt extremely proud, despite the fact that the story did not make a great splash. But the most interesting thing is what it taught me about awkward conversations.

For all the comedy and sex and heat, (of which there is a lot) I learned that awkward conversations are life in a way.

Think about it. What do you like? What makes you feel beautiful? What makes you feel safe? How do you like to be fucked?

Writing Carnal Theory taught me that whether you want it all the time, or never (yes, asexuality is a thing, fight me) awkward conversations about sex are going to come up at some point. We are human. We bang. It happens. But having awkward conversations is what leads us to discovering not only more about ourselves but what we can expect of other people.

I’m a mild-mannered office manager who loves to leave the windows open while we fuck.

I’m a tall, strapping man who loves to have his ass slapped while he is bent over a desk.

I’m a beautiful, self-contained woman and you know what? Sex really isn’t my thing. I just want to hold your hand. I hope that is enough.

Awkward conversations are awkward for a reason. They leave us vulnerable to another person. They make us turn red in the face. But the alternative is a kind of hell in its own right.

Now, I am by no means an expert at this. I have stuttered and ‘ummmed’ my way through several awkward conversations and I’m not going to lie and say that things always got better afterwards. All I’m saying is that the topic of spanking is unlikely to come up naturally around the dinner table and waiting around, hoping that one day your lover will just ‘get it,’ is akin to a cold day in Hell.

Talking hurts. Talking is scary. Sometimes, talking fucks things up.

But um…in the end…we um…I mean you and I should…you know, if you’re up for it…um…I think we should, um…talk?