On the ninth day of Christmas: Malin James

I like to think that I’m pretty brave in my writing, but am I as brave in my reading? Perhaps not. In life, I’ve tended to shy away from things that challenge me, even though I’m coming to realise, largely via my RL female friendships, that people/things that stretch you and encourage you to raise your game are a good thing, not a bad thing.

Because excellent writing can be intimidating. Tamsin Flowers wrote brilliantly about self-doubt and writer envy here, and I get that a bit with Malin’s writing. I want to be that good. I want the discipline, the commitment to the written word, the feel for what makes beautiful prose, and beautiful sex writing especially. And on good days, I think that in time I could be. On bad days? Yeah, not so much.

Malin also has enviable poise and seems, from her blog posts, to be comfortable in her own skin and with her sexuality. I’m still very much climbing that hill, and as I said when I wrote my post on Exhibit A, I don’t always find it easy to read stuff that’s straightforward and positive about sex. Ah. I nearly wrote ‘uncomplicated,’ there, and then I took it out. Because, if we’re moving on to the good stuff, and why I admire Malin’s writing so damn much, it’s because she’s not afraid to acknowledge that relationships are complicated learning curves – she doesn’t gloss her own life and make it seem like it’s always been easy.

Anyway. Top three. There isn’t much I can say about my first choice, On Hang Ups, other than that it embodies everything that I’ve said above. While I’m here saying I wish I could write about sex with anything like the grace that Malin does, this post shows her on a very similar journey.

Secondly, a very recent post, In Praise of Quiet, which is all about New Year’s Eve. I share Malin’s love of spending NYE peacefully and from now on I might try and use it as an evening for champagne and writing, inspired not only by this, but also by Ella Dawson, who does the same. It just seems like a very sane, serene way to enter the chaos of a new year.

And lastly, We Don’t Do That: On Vulnerability, which was also one of the top posts on last month’s e[lust]. This post is all at once heartbreaking and beautiful – the pain of past events shines through, but the prose is so good I keep coming back to it. Here’s an extract:

‘“We don’t do that,” he says, looking around, as if his girlfriend had just walked in. She hasn’t, of course. She’s in Oregon. She trusts him. She told him so.

My face is burning as if I’ve been slapped. My lungs hurt. There’s too much sharp, sudden hurt. I hurt too much to cry.

We don’t do that. We don’t do that.

“We don’t do what,” I ask.

He gives me a look, like I should know better. And the reality is that I should.

“Never mind.” I say. “Forget it. Thanks for the drink.”

I look away, into the grimy mirror behind the bar. My face is sharp and my mouth is hard. I look cold and dangerous. That isn’t my face. Except that now it is.’

You can find Malin’s homepage here.

4 thoughts on “On the ninth day of Christmas: Malin James

  1. It’s difficult to handle personal issues in writing. Such a fine line to cross and then suddenly the reader is looking at self-indulgence. And then of course there is the part where you’ve shared something and now it’s out there. Y’all share more than I do, and that takes guts.

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