‘He took her in his arms’: on the difficulty of writing hugs

I don’t believe, as a rule, that sex is difficult to write. Yes, lots of people *say* it is, but it’s no harder (and for me, a lot easier) than writing, for example, violence, comedy or a whole damn novel with an original, yet plausible and satisfying ending.

That doesn’t mean, though, that there aren’t *parts* of sex that aren’t tricky to write. Orgasms, for example – fucking nightmare. Kisses are a challenge to write in a way that’s fresh. I find it’s easier to stick to the stuff that isn’t traditionally thought of as sexy – someone slowly rolling a condom down the length of their rock hard dick, someone refusing a post-coital tissue and instead allowing the splatters of spunk to slowly dry on their skin.

It had never occurred to me though, that writing hugs is as hard, if not harder, than writing kisses or orgasms. It’s a struggle not to be cliched – to not say ‘He took her in his arms,’ or ‘He wrapped her in a hug.’ I tried to write hugs that were original for this prompt, and I came unstuck – everything was too mechanical, because, at the end of the day, it doesn’t *matter* where someone’s putting their arms, or whether they’re resting their head on the other person’s shoulder, or whatever – what makes a hug, as with so many things, interesting to read – is context.

So instead of a new hug, here is one of the very few that I remember writing, one that I’m pleased with:

Of course, the actual goodbye is harder than the naked one. I sit and pull my knees up to my chest as I watch him tug on his clothes – boxers, T-shirt, jeans – and I almost cry again when I realise I’ve seen his thick leather belt hanging invitingly open for the final time. He finds his shoes and I wrap myself in my robe and follow him out to his car. How did I never see this part coming? He stands, arms out, inviting me in for a hug. We never hug. That’s how much has changed in one short week. On any other day we’d lie, intertwined, on the bed or the sofa, or wherever the wine was, until the sky was dark and the moon high, or until one of us mentioned the prospect of work the following day. And then he’d show me out, worn PJ bottoms sitting low on his hips, his hair as sex-mussed as mine, if not worse . He’d open the door, and as the cold night air enveloped us we’d kiss as if intending to start the whole evening over, our tongues thrusting and lashing, no less urgent than we’d been hours earlier. When I did manage to pull away, to insist that, no, really, I did have to go, he’d wait until I turned to leave, and then he’d see me off with a good, firm smack on the arse.

I’d love to see other writers sharing hugs they’ve written that they’re proud of, too – please feel free to share them in the comments.


5 thoughts on “‘He took her in his arms’: on the difficulty of writing hugs

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