Monthly Archives: September 2015

When Truth and Fiction Collide

When I made the decision to write a second book, one of the plot points I included was to have our couple pursue a predator in their kink community.  Somewhere in the middle of the editing process, we had something of a similar nature happen in my own community. Though the specifics were vastly different, the emotions involved were not, and I was able to draw on real-life reactions and then insert them into my characters. It was a horrific kind of research. I hated that people I loved were going through such an awful trial. But, changes were made in real life, and we all moved on, seemingly stronger than ever for the experience.

Still, every time I’ve reread that particular book to make changes to it, I’m reminded of that time. It’s all far too familiar and a little heartbreaking.

I recently sent an email to organizers of a nearby event to discuss one of the speakers they were bringing in. I agonized over this email for months. Was there a point? Would it do any good? What did I actually expect to happen as a result? My point is that I did not send the email lightly. There are very, very few people I can imagine writing such an email about.

But once again I was reminded of my book. And once again I disliked the similarities to real life. This isn’t a position I want to be in. I don’t enjoy having this responsibility. The books are a fantasy, goddammit. Why can’t any of the sexy parts come true? Oh wait…some of them already have. That’s why they’re in the books.

Look, sometimes doing the right things sucks. And I do think I did the right thing. I just wish I hadn’t had to. This should not be a necessary part of life.

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Balance

Writing my books has been more educational than I ever could have guessed. I’ve had to figure out approximately how long it would take to drive from my place to Las Vegas (an over-the-road trucker friend was actually impressed I’d researched that, in fact). I’ve read up on non-painful punishments for masochists (hello sentence writing!). Let’s face it, I’ve thought more about D/s relationships in general than I ever thought I would want to. There are other things too that, well, not even my beta readers have gotten to so…yeah, no spoilers. You’ll just have to trust me when I say I do my research.

Fact checking and basic research is one thing – I’m an ex-journalist after all – but the books have also forced me to consider concepts that I wouldn’t have previously thought applied to me.  At least not to this degree.

Specifically, the concept of balance. This is a big deal for my male lead. He has a rather diverse set of hobbies and career and, when pressed about this by the female lead, he tells her that it all gives him balance in life.

I was so proud of that line. Probably too proud. But I’d been struggling with how he could be both one thing and this other thing and, although it seems like an obvious choice now, it wasn’t then. Eventually, it became a central facet about him and a prime motivator for him doing…pretty much everything he does. The only thing more important to him is being in control and even then he strives for a balance between controlling a situation just because he can and controlling it because he has a vested interest in the outcome.

Anyway, I now see the effect of seeking balance everywhere. When I opt to stay home and not see anyone for a while after a particularly busy social period. When I watch a comedy after binge watching an emotionally heart wrenching series on Netflix (seriously, Wachowskis, did you have to make me cry during *every* episode of Sense8?). When I look at my girlfriend – good god is she ever patient, understanding, and laid back to my frustrated, confused, and hyper self.  It’s everywhere and the awareness of it is fascinating to me. I’m truly unsure why I hadn’t seen it before.

I like knowing this about myself. I also feel like this is something really basic that I should have figured out ages ago.

Everything in its own time though, right?

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Playing With Fear

Much of the language used in relation to kink, BDSM, what it is that we do, etc. is incredibly individual. This is the main reason I consider labels to be conversation starters rather than answers in and of themselves. While one person may be submissive only during sex, or on weekends when the kids are away, someone else may consider submission to be an ongoing dynamic akin to being someone’s spouse or life partner. In my experience, there is little that can be generalized. But there are some terms that seem more open to interpretation than others, including fear and humiliation.

I don’t do humiliation. Mild embarrassment is one thing, but my view of humiliation is one of  being talked down to, insulted, or berated. And that’s a little too close to my inner monologue. While I can understand how hearing those words outside one’s own head can be beneficial, it’s not something I have any personal interest in pursuing. Further, I was made fun of for plenty growing up and there is nothing more triggering to me than to be reminded of that in some way.

Fear though. Fear is more intriguing to me. While negotiating a scene recently and discussing where our activities might lead, my partner mentioned that there was potential for them to take us into a place of fear. I admitted that I was willing to go there if that’s where the scene went, and that it was something I would like to do more of. And then they asked what fear is for me.

Dammit. Couldn’t we just get to the fun sexy times already?

No, no, communication is key here. So I thought back to the few times I’d been afraid during a scene and what those scenes had in common.  There was the time a man pointed a knife directly under my chin and said, “all I have to do is push in and you’re a puddle on the floor.” There was the time a friend pushed my face so far into a pillow and for so long, I realized how easy it would be for things to go too far.

“It’s that point where I have to remind myself that I know you,” I told my friend. Vague as that sounded to my own ears, it was apparently acceptable.

And yes, we danced along that edge, that point where one’s survival instinct kicks in and overtakes the need to fight. That point which is as definable as the blade pushing against the flesh over one’s heart or stomach.

So why go to that place? What’s the point? Well for me it’s a catharsis. Much like the ropes provide a tangible object against which I can work out some of my frustrations, confronting fear of any kind helps quiet that inner voice that says, “you can’t do anything.” There’s a sense of accomplishment that comes with pushing those boundaries and coming out on the other side. The resulting cuts and bruises are reminders that yes, I did in fact do that.

The stress, the tension, all of it will return in its time. But for now, I’m as relaxed as I get. The other night, I even sent the book to people who might be able to help market it. And I did so without butterflies and without hesitation. That’s what I call impressive. Still haven’t sent it to publishers but that’s largely a time issue at this point.

And the really interesting thing? Previously, in the days after such a scene, I’ve fretted over how I could enjoy such a thing. To be fair, that knife play scene mentioned above was early, early on when I was still discovering my love for knives. The pillow thing…that was part of something that could only be described as more complicated. Ultimately, I knew I was safe but the context was unnerving to say the least.

This time? I’m good. Sleepy, and still a little sore if you poke at the right spots, but I’ve come to terms with what I want and I’m comfortable with it.

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One for the senses

There are certain things I’ve come to expect from my streaming Netflix service – superheroes, corrupt politicians, a bewildering array of B-movies and off-the-wall documentaries, and a few of my favorite shows that I’m able to revisit from time to time. What I didn’t expect was a show that actually chathallenges its viewers to look past their differences and work together to lift each other up in a way that isn’t trite or feel like a Lifetime Movie of the Week.

But why would you when all the description gives you is that it is a “tense series in which eight people can telepathically experience each other’s lives”? From that, I expected some exploration of psychic phenomena and the like, along with the requisite debate over whether such things are possible. What the Wachowskis delivered in Sense 8, however, was so much more.

Full disclaimer time – I’m not a fan of the Matrix series. I think it has something to do with my complete inability to deal with Keanu Reeves. I can take him in small roles (Dangerous Liaisons, Dracula) but make him the focus and I just can’t, even if he is surrounded by Lawrence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving. As a result, I’ve always felt a bit neutral toward the Wachowskis. They weren’t a factor in whether I watched this series. If anything, I was surprised and a little impressed to see them attached to something made for Netflix. Despite my reliance on it for most of my television entertainment, I still see it as a rogue alternative to the big networks, cable and, and film.

I started watching Sense 8 because it looked intriguing and many of my friends were raving about it. The first episode was difficult to watch. Too many people, too many storylines, too difficult to keep them all straight. And what did it all have to do with a woman who killed herself in a church?

The second episode, however, began connecting the threads. Even better, the emotions started to kick in. Nomi’s writing about her first Pride parade and how one can also be a “we” was beautiful and moving. Throw in an ultra-conservative mother who refuses to accept who she is and I was done.

As the show went on, I became more and more impressed at how each character simply jumped in when one of their comrades was in trouble. No one stopped to second guess the fact that they were helping a transwoman, a gay man, black men, an Asian woman, jewel thieves, or a cop. In fact, the first time someone crosses space to help another person is when Nomi is in the hospital about to be lobotomized. She simply whispers, “I need help” and someone is there. It doesn’t matter why, doesn’t matter who she is, or what is going on. A single, sincere plea is answered.

Once they do discover more about each other, their differences don’t seem to matter. There is a scene early on where they are all shown in an orgiastic atmosphere, limbs and bodies entangled across vast spaces. Much later, Lito the gay Mexican actor interacts with Will the cop for the first time. Will asks Lito who he is and Lito answers with a sly smile. “We had sex.” Still Will isn’t particularly offended. Surprised, yes, but far from the typical cishetmale response that I would have expected after such a disclosure.

It is this sense of duty to each other that continuously moved me. That and some of the flashbacks to earlier times in the characters’ lives (Nomi in the locker room was particularly heartbreaking). Their differences were simply accepted as facts rather than aspects to be judged or criticized, or even incentives to help. They talk to each other, learn from each other, fall in love with each other. And each character helps the others according to their strengths in the most beautiful of ways.

I think what amazed me most was how easily this could have devolved into something cheesy and after-school-special-ish. Instead, the execution was very nearly perfect. The Wachowskis have created a masterpiece here, one with lessons we can all take to heart.

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