Sex and Survivor . . .
Sometimes I wonder how far I would go in the effort to understand physical and mental emotion in a given circumstance for my writing. I’ve snorkelled, body-surfed, kayaked and sailed in fairly unfriendly seas, ridden horses at pace through hill and dale, drunk too much, drunk not enough. I’ve stood on the edge of enormous heights and felt threatened by vertigo, I’ve held my breath and dived as deep as I can to see what it feels like. I’ve tasted food I hated and retched with it. Gad, I’ve even used a drop toilet! And everyone knows that living in Australia, one is always aware of the nasties: sharks, jellyfish, redback spiders, funnelweb spiders, jackjumper ants, snakes! It’s a mean old world out there!
I’ve touched a live tiger-snake (didn’t help the phobia at all), I’ve laid on decks and held out hands to wild dolphin and kayaked in the middle of a wild pod. I’ve viewed death, both animal and human, and become grief-stricken. I have felt such momentous panic that I thought I could run a million miles on the adrenalin.
Most recently though, as I contemplated a report on the love (for love read sex) scenes in my novel, it seems I am being twee and polite. Well, sorry and all that, but the idea of soliciting, of experiencing the many different forms of intercourse out there really isn’t part of my brief as a writer!
So whoring’s out and so’s being a profligate drunkard and gambler. Sure, I can ask those who are for a download on their emotions, but that’s as far as I could go and then it’s all secondhand anyway and I might as well use my imagination because my novels are fiction after all.
But I tell you, I would like to learn to fight with a sword so that I feel some of the swash and buckle that my characters should feel. I might absail over a pretty substantial drop if it was necessary, to understand escaping over a castle wall. If I really have to. Stick me on the water or the land and I’ll think about giving things a go.
Having said that, I’m no Survivor, in fact I’m Survivor’s biggest fan because I’m an armchair-thrill kind of person. But feeling the emotions in various contexts matters if one’s characters are going to have any dimension, so I guess I may have to harden the carapace, swallow the fear and get out there and do more.
I’m full of admiration for you!! No way you’d get me touching a tiger snake. Do you know how poisonous those buggers are??!!
As for the sex, if you’ve done it a few times, I think you should be able to fill in the missing gaps with your imagination. Sounds like fun!
The snake was caught in our barn resting on haybales and the rescuer (!) insisted I touch it bercause I am phobic about snakes. He had it under control and to be truthful, it did feel like silk. But I am as nervous as ever in summer.
As for the sex scenes, apparently there’s fine line between the old-fashioned Mills and Boon approach and an ‘R’ rating. The difficulty is finding the middle road. The suggestion is that I hint at the sex, leave the scene before it happens, allowing the reader to use their imagination.
California has the plant version of Australia’s venomous population: all the plants here have lots of long sharp thorns.
If intense sex scenes were necessary to your story, you’d write them. But you’re writing about other things. It’s also a bit facile to assume that because you don’t include detailed sex scenes in your novels, you must be a prude. It’s a bit like the assumption that anyone who doesn’t drink must be an alcoholic.
I drink, but I aint no alcoholic, that’s for sure. And yes, it seems you have pinpointed exactly what they want.
So, I guess this means you won’t be participating in any local orgies in the near future?
Oh Gawd, the “requirement” to write sex scenes … you’re not alone, Prue! I’m more of the “titillate and let the reader’s imagination take over” philosophy. The reader can then make it into whatever trips his/her trigger (as it were), not what trips mine.
But, maybe the art of subtlety doesn’t matter any more? Or have we all gotten just lazy as readers? Are writers supposed to hand everything on a silver platter to the readers? … uh oh, getting too philosophical here.
You know, I loved the old fashioned love-scenes from the old movies of the 50’s and 60’s (my god, it was still kosher for everyone to smoke like chimneys in those days) where nothing was ver shown but everything was implied and boy, could those folk kiss!
Even if you remember back to the Masked Ball blog event and you think of Yul Brynner reaching out to place his hand on Deborah Kerr’s waist as he gets ready to dance in the Shall we Dance clip from You Tube, that move is LOADED with attraction, desire and everything else! And that’s the way I want to write it. A touch, but so loaded that the reader’s breath stops. Do you think its possible? I hope so.
That scene in The King and I is one of the hottest scenes in movie history!
Prue- I was just discussing this with another writer friend of mine, the famous “how are we willing to take risks in the name of fiction?” and I’m with you, as far as nature goes I’m all in, I’ll do and try pretty much anything… But I’m not whoring either, that’s out! I did gamble once and getting drunk was taken care of when I was in collage 🙂
Resabi and Scribbler 59:
I’m glad you agree with the King and I scene. It’s subtlety at its absolute best. My God, I’d love to have HIS hand slide around MY waist like that!
So true, one doesn’t have to die to write a death scene. We all experience grief in our own way.
Intrepid is as intrepid does, Resabi. You get me on a Survivor show and I’d vote myself out on the first night. The tribe wouldn’t have to speak, I’d speak for them!
Lua, see my comment re being intrepid to Scribbler 59 and Resabi.
Good grief. The failure of imagination is theirs, not yours. Clearly these people lack subtlety (and appreciation for same). For pity’s sake, one doesn’t have to die to write a death scene…
Re King & I: hot absolutely.
I must say, though, that the breadth of things you have experienced (in the name of writing or not) is amazing. You are one intrepid lady (term used advisedly).