As ever, when I put out a call for excellent writing you didn’t let me down. There were twelve posts from eleven entrants on topics ranging from Guy Fawkes to knicker-sniffing. Which was exactly what I wanted: I love sex blogging, but I read much more widely than that and I wanted to acknowledge just how much fantastic blogging goes on, not for financial gain, or for followers, but just for the sheer love of writing.
So let’s start in reverse order by date/time of submission. @brosandprose is a relatively new discovery of mine, but as ever she wrote elegantly and insightfully about the crossover between sex writing and pop culture. My knowledge of Taylor Swift extends only as far as the lyrics to Love Story and something to do with Harry Styles, but I loved this piece.
Then @Juniper3Glasgow, who won my last competition with this amazing story. Fireworks is an equally powerful post, and I love that Juniper has a way of writing about real events that have shaped her in a way that’s neither sentimental or indulgent. Nobody could deny that the girl has a way with words.
@codexonline wrote on heartbreak. I’m a sucker for a sad posts, and this struck a few chords with me – lines like ‘I’m going to be quick because I have to start thinking about her again at some point,’ and his inclusion of the eternally painful quote ‘never allow someone be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.” I know just what he’s getting at. I’ve been there. Sharing that pain never stops being being brave, though.
@bangsnwhimpers submitted two great entries. The first, on kissing with confidence has lots of great moments but I particularly like the vignetted moments of actual kissing ‘ The clearing of the throat, the disposing of gum. The butterflies in the stomach. The shifting in your seat, the stirring in your pants. The hands, the hands reaching around your waist, sliding over your behind, touching your arm’ and ‘The trophy of a kissing session, the dry lips. Kissing a smoker, that ashy taste, that tinge of smoke. A lipstick smudge on his lips. Your fingers wiping it off. And then more kisses.’
The second is on music, and I wholeheartedly agree with every word. It made me laugh, too, with its quips about trumpet players being able to breathe through their ears and the drummer who liked girls to shit on his chest (you’ll need to read it for context).
Massive kudos to @Hornygeekgirl who completely took me at my word when I said people could write about anything they wanted, and wrote about Guy Fawkes and freedom fighters. What I love about this is not only the unapologetic break with her usual subject matter but also that it showcases how positive and thoughtful she always, always is.
@JillyBoyd wrote on a subject close to all our hearts: how to capture the runaway idea when you’re a writer. I’m still on a relatively sharp learning curve where this is concerned but I think her keyword suggestion is fucking genius. Thanks Jilly!
@Innocentlb wrote with great poignancy about an early relationship and the difficulty of balancing friendship and love. I’ve been there, too and I know how hard it is when your friends don’t seem to want the best for you (and in fact, sometimes I’m the bitch who doesn’t want the best for her friends.) There’s lots good about this post, but I like the underlying sense of unease that carries through the whole piece.
First time stories are always a favourite of mine, and @girlseule didn’t disappoint. Evie blends story and musing about what virginity really means masterfully. She’s also completely unabashed about the fact that in some ways she’s still the same girl she was back then: ‘I think I was looking for affection and someone to just like me a lot more than I was looking for sex. I think I still am,’ and I’m a huge, huge fan of her writing.
@FSolomonRR rose to the non-fiction challenge with characteristic enthusiasm, which in itself is enough to make me adore her. Like Jilly she wrote on writing, and the candid honest with which she describes what she’s learnt is an inspiration. I really hope she keeps up the nonfiction writing as well as the fiction though, because she’s damn good at it.
And Molly. Lovely @mollysdailykiss. I think the only fair description of this post is ‘you don’t get much braver than this.’ I’ve learnt so much from Molly’s writing, not least that if you’re candid and true to yourself, even if what you’re describing isn’t everybody’s kink – she wrote about enjoying the smell of her own underwear – people will respect you for the honesty that shines through in your writing. I certainly respect her for that.
We’re getting close to the result now, but first let me start with my runner up. @Fantasticalview usually writes poetry, but you’d never guess that he’s new to prose from his piece. At first, it made me a little uncomfortable – while words like ‘Bitch’ and ‘Slut’ are fine if they’re used in my bedroom or if I apply them to myself, there has to be a damn good reason for them to be used to describe anyone else. But there is a damn good reason here, and also: the best writing often does make you uncomfortable – it should force you to ask uncomfortable questions at least – and this is a wonderful blend of love and grief and writing that does just that. I fucked up the prizes a little on this perhaps – it would have been good to have a second and third prize – but this is definitely a worthy runner up.
What I really didn’t anticipate was that the Readers’ Choice and my own prize might both end up going to the same person. I thought that the winning piece, while it is a stunningly thoughtful and clever essay – might resonate with me more than other people because it’s about the learning curve associated with sex writing. I was wrong – it not only gets my vote, it also took 46% of *your* votes. It’s honest to a fault (‘I didn’t consider my own complicity in getting hurt, that I had become attached to someone who was honest about only wanting something physical. I thought he was pure asshole, and I wrote it all down in a malicious tirade’) but it does it without self-recrimation or regret – it’s an ‘onwards and upwards’ type of post, and I *fucking* love that. So yes, @brosandprose, both Charlie’s Choice and the Reader’s Choice prizes are yours for the fabulous ‘Everything I know about sex writing I learned from Taylor Swift‘ – drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your preferred email address and I’ll make sure your prizes wing their way to you ASAP.
Thanks again so much to everyone who entered – expect the ‘Don’t Read Clickbait, Read This Instead’ award to become an annual thing.