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.