There’s been a post about talking to my dad about sex on my to-write list for a while, now. But, although I find it weirdly easy to talk to my dad about sex, it’s less easy for me to work out why. So bear with me.
What prompted this post today is, well, Father’s Day, obviously, but also this tweet by @Juniper3Glasgow, and her blog post about her dad, too.
My parents know I write erotica. They know I have a sex blog. My mum says: ‘Do you think one day you’ll write a different genre?’
My dad says: ‘I went for a drink with N the other night. I told him you’ve just had an erotic story published. He asked if he could read it?’
No. Not this time.
There are two problems with the story I’ve just had published. One is that it’s deeply personal. The other is that my bio has a link to my blog, and thus not only the details of my sex life, but also my Sinful Sunday pictures. They *definitely* don’t need to see those.
If I ever get something published that’s less personal, would I let my dad read it? I don’t know. It’s not the sex that I think he might judge, but at the moment he thinks everything I do is great, and he’s the fussiest audience I’ve ever met. Whether it’s film, TV or books, he prefers indie, European, generally pretty bleak stuff. Would my writing match up to the quality of what he’s used to reading? I doubt it.
But, there’s a benefit to that, too. If he thinks something is good, he’s always shared it, with little concern for age-appropriateness. He let me watch 9 1/2 weeks at age 15, and I, in turn, a year later, lent him my copy of Marie Darrieussecq’s Pig Tales, which is pretty filthy. Sex is not a topic that’s off limits. I’ve explained sex positivity to him, and the pull for me of writing erotica, which is best captured by Guy New York’s book Write ’till You’re Hard:
‘Sex is a natural way to look at self-discovery, and it’s one that is often overlooked or ignored. Mostly because we’re afraid of sex, and there’s a giant stigma against erotica as being a non-serious genre. Which is a load of shit. Sex and relationships are at the center of all our lives…’
My dad’s family shy away from physical affection and touch, as well as talking about feelings. He couldn’t really be more different. I grew up believing it was ok to ask for hugs when you wanted or needed them, that it was ok to cry (whether you’re male or female) and that men suffer from anxiety and fear too, and that doesn’t make them any less of a man. It was a good grounding for a feminist take on the world.
I have a box in the cupboard stuffed full of letters from my dad. He writes every couple of months, always on headed paper, only ever writing on one side, always asking more questions about my life than he tells me stuff about his own. We speak too, regularly, but there’s something about those letters. A lesson about writing, perhaps. That it’s worth it, that it matters, that it’s not a waste of time. Whatever genre you choose.