Friday, August 18, 2006
From 13 to 50
Today I'm turning 50. Pretty exciting stuff! Makes me glad that I have found some success with my fiction writing in recent years, seeing as career-wise, that was my life's goal from the time I could hold a pen. But until three years ago I would never have guessed it would be romantic erotic fiction that would be my ultimate claim to fame. I guess you can't always anticipate what ability will eventually surface as significant to your life.
It's crazy to think I've been writing about sex for 37 years. Even crazier that I can remember the first time I did it. I went through puberty at age 13, and it was almost as if one day the stuff we'd learned in that "special class for girls only" sounded gross, and the next it started to be intriguing. But one particular day I was thinking about this boy in my junior high class that I had a crush on, and it seemed to me that such intimacies with him might not be disgusting after all.
I think my pubescent feelings were something of a precursor to the view of sex I would eventually hold for a lifetime. I hadn't yet discovered what orgasm felt like, nor had I seen what a naked man looked like, so the nitty-gritty of sex was still to be discovered. (Let me interject that shortly after this my parents did a terrific job of educating me; I read a couple excellent books they provided me and learned all about everything.) The actual act of intercourse seemed scary, but the concept of conjugation was very compelling. So you see, from the very beginning, the physical act of sex was not my primary focus when it came to the erotic. It was much more spiritual and emotional.
Chris, my junior high crush, was a very shy boy who barely spoke to anyone much less me. Perhaps it was because he seemed mysterious that I was drawn to him; at any rate I didn't really know him personally at all. Nevertheless, I was suddenly acutely aware of a fellow human being in terms of his maleness. I sat behind him in algebra and studied the flesh on the back of his neck, the shape of his limbs, the line of his jaw. I put my hands on the desktop close enough to his back to feel his warmth. I was full of yearning that seemed wonderful but terrible. I thought about touching him, kissing him, and found myself reacting to these thoughts in a whole new way.
I felt surrender: the primordial female response to masculinity. I wanted to give over to him, to let him be aggressive to me. And these feelings made sex, for the first time, seem potentially a desirable thing. The abstract thought of Chris entering me, of our bodies melding, was very sweet. Intercourse I still wasn't sure of, but that deep closeness, that physical connection, had great appeal.
So I wrote about it in my diary. I didn't write about the sex act, but about the abstract concept of being joined to this boy. And to this day, although I do write about the sex act now, it's these same feelings and concepts that to me are true erotica.
I must have reread that diary entry a hundred times, for years afterward, along with the other passages I occasionally penned. Into adulthood and over the decades to follow, I often wrote erotic scenes and stories about men to whom I was attracted. These were all for my own private consumption, but having the sort of approach to erotica that I did, I worked hard to make them vivid and well written and emotionally as well as sensually compelling.
It turned out these efforts were not in vain. In the late 90s I began to share some of my stories with a couple of close friends, who begged me to write more. In 2002 I wrote a piece of Star Wars erotic fiction and posted it online. That was the turning point, for I began to get real fan mail for this story and for the first time to consider writing erotic romance for publication. I had been freelancing with minor success for three decades and written four novels, one self-published, but I had never thought of selling work in this genre.
It took me 33 years to get to the point of deciding to do so, but then only about a month to find a publisher--actually two publishers. And here I am, finally having found my writing niche, and turning 50 years old. I think it never occurred to me that my strangely abstract, spiritual/emotional approach to sex would appeal to others, but apparently there are quite a few people for whom it strikes a deep chord.
I feel a lot younger than 50, and can still pass for 40 to strangers (throwing in a recent picture I like, out of sheer vanity--LOL), which I guess is a fortunate thing for a woman who writes erotic fiction. And although I'm not as obsessed about sex as I was in my mid-30s (when my second husband met me, lucky guy), I make up for it in the wisdom that life experience brings, much of which does touch upon the erotic.
In other words, I'm very happy to be 50 years old and specializing in writing erotic fiction. That 13-year-old is still in here somewhere, still in awe of sex, still trying to figure it all out.