On the eleventh day of Christmas: Remittance Girl

I’ve mentioned a few times recently that I wrote my undergrad dissertation on sex and fantasy in the modern female novel. At the time I had no idea I’d end up blogging and no particular interest in female desire – I just wanted to write about sex. But the more literary criticism I read, the more it fascinated me – and continues to fascinate me – which is why I love Remittance Girl’s blog.

Remittance Girl writes a mix of what I’d term academic writing about sex and dark erotic fiction. I don’t read it and understand it straight off, usually – it’s writing that bubbles in my head for hours and leaves me wishing that I’d had more time at uni to explore these topics in more depth. It’s writing that makes me want to go and read Lacan again, properly, even though people continually tell me that’s a terrible, terrible idea and in my saner moments I’m inclined to agree. Lacan is bloody hard work.

But RG’s blog allows me to dip in and out of this kind of stuff, which is fantastic. So let’s start with a post that includes thoughts on Lacan: Jouissance, Hard Limits & an Ass Covering Culture, in which she explores what Lacan means by jouissance  and looks at in relation to why her own limits with sexual partners remain fluid.

Secondly, I’m going to cheat a bit, and include a post that was written at the end of 2013, because I started reading Remittance Girl’s archives in the wrong direction and loved this before I realised it didn’t fit into my window. The post is called HandSome Devil, and looks, with specific reference, at Peter O’Toole, at how distracting and sexy a man’s hands can be. And frankly, I couldn’t agree more, hence why I’m including it here.

Last, but not at all least, is a piece of erotic fiction, Something More Than You. I don’t think I could ever get off to most of what RG writes; but nor do I think that means it’s not erotic, or that it doesn’t speak to my kinks. It’s bleak and relentless and it really, really does speak to them. And, in a world that seems to classify erotic romance as more about fucking a man with a helicopter than about anything actually erotic, writing like this is a huge relief to me. An extract:

‘He let her go because the room was too close. She could not sleep in his embrace, could not pull enough oxygen from the air he’d breathed. Love pressed on her chest even as her hips arched upwards, tricking his fingers deeper. Until her cunt had eaten his wedding ring and she could taste metal through the bloody membrane of her chewed-up cheeks and swallowed the chalky impossibility of it all.’

You can find Remittance Girl’s homepage here.

On the tenth day of Christmas: Molly Moore

I met Molly a couple of months ago in real life. First at a book launch at Sh! and then I went for dinner with her and the lovely @Domsigns and we ended up chatting for *hours.*

I feel like I’ve said that a lot while writing these posts. ‘I’ve met this person in real life this year. And this person. And this person.’ But fuck, meeting those people has made a difference. It’s not that I don’t believe that friendships that exist only on Twitter don’t count. I totally believe that they do. At the end of 2013 though, even in the early part of 2014, Charlie Powell was just a name I used. She wasn’t a person, she didn’t have a personality, she was just a way of shielding my real identity. And although everyone I’ve met in RL knows my real name, those meetings have brought Charlie to life. They’ve made her *real.*

If this all seems irrelevant, it’s not, really. Because the other thing that brought Charlie to life this year was #SinfulSunday, which is, of course, Molly’s excellent meme. I try to emphasise how good it’s been for me often, but I figure there’s no harm in saying it again now.

I decided not to include any of Molly’s photo posts in this round up, for two reasons. Firstly, because everyone else I’ve written about posts primarily written content, and secondly because it would be damn well impossible to choose. *All* of Molly’s photography is beautiful. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m not going to touch on Sinful Sunday at all: my first post of Molly’s is In a New Light, where she writes about taking her friend’s photo for the first time. I wasn’t sure about including this at first, because it’s not all Molly’s words, but to me it’s such a clear and true reflection of the values that underpin Molly’s blogs and memes and made such a difference to my 2014 that I couldn’t *not* include it.

Secondly, the post she wrote for my anti-clickbait competition: Sniffy. I completely get what Molly’s talking about here, and sure, I’ve done/do it too, but would I have had the guts to write this unabashedly about it? No way. So this is the piece that makes me want to continue to push out of my comfort zone when blogging in 2015.

And finally, a piece that I ended up sharing a few times on Twitter, Stripping Away the Shadows, where what stuck with me the most was how Molly talks about using her blog as a positive communication tool within her relationship. I read a lot more about the dangers of blogging about a partner, blogging about your sex life, about the ethics, the pitfalls, the breaking of trust. It was just so refreshing to read something that looked at the whole issue from a totally different angle, and if it isn’t something to aspire to, I don’t know what is. Here’s an extract:

‘I have always stated that I primarily write my blog for myself and that is true but if there is a perceived audience within my head then for the most part it is @domsigns. He is clearly not the only audience, but much of what I have written and posted here has in some way or other been an extended love letter to him. Sometimes they are desires and fantasies, sometimes they are a lust filled retelling of things we have done together, sometimes a thank you, often a declaration of wants and needs, and nearly always an expression of love.’

You can find Molly’s homepage here.

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.

On the eighth day of Christmas: @Juniper3Glasgow

I never know quite how to refer to Juniper (or other bloggers with a first name only pseudonym) when I mention her in posts. Maybe we should pretend her surname is Glasgow, which would stop me having to refer to her by her Twitter handle as though I’ve only just stumbled across her.

Because I’ve not. I stumbled upon her right at the very beginning of blogging, or rather she stumbled across me, I think – probably via the guest post I wrote for Girlonthenet.

I like to think of her as my Twitter bestie: I love her writing, I love her Twitter feed (her referendum day #HotScots being a particular highlight) and her quiet, calm sanity and dry sense of humour have been a massive support at many times during 2014. I met her for real in the summer, too, and can confirm that she’s just as lovely in person.

Anyway, on to my top Juniper posts of the year. First is the story she wrote for my #Polished competition, Marrakech. It’s woven through (excuse the pun) with beautiful little touches of humour and I love that she has a beautiful way of picking up on the less obvious stuff that makes men attractive – here it’s the shopkeeper’s arms, in the story she wrote more recently for Exhibit A, it was a freckle on the main character’s cock. She’s a detail girl, and it works brilliantly.

Secondly, Wedding. Sometimes when I write posts which focus on the build up, the anticipation, I get comments asking if I’m going to blog what happened next. This is a great example of why sometimes the anticipation is the best bit of the story.

And finally, Lanes. God, this is a hot little piece. I’ll admit that it caters to all my kinks (dark alleyways, strangers, new places…) but it’s also romantic as hell. Here’s your extract:

‘An affair, perhaps? Were they stealing a half hour in each other’s company? Is he whispering to her, ‘I really want to take you home, and fuck your brains out, but I can’t’? Are they tugging at each other clothes, is he running his fingers around the waistband of her jeans, wishing it could go further, but knowing that today, it will only be a moment in a lane.’

You can find Juniper’s homepage here.

On the seventh day of Christmas: Jilly Boyd

Damn, I wanted to do all of the ‘J’ posts today. Or yesterday, in fact. I fell over in a very muddy way, instead, but that’s a whole other blog post. Today, the spotlight is on the beautiful Jilly Boyd, who blogs at ladylaidbare.com.

I’ve met her, very briefly, in person, and I hope to get to know her better this year, because she seems lovely. But I’ve only really been reading her blog on a regular basis since she entered both my Polished and ‘Don’t read clickbait, read this instead’ competitions, and I realised I wanted to read much much more of her writing.

As is becoming the predominant theme of these posts, when I read back through her archives there were more than three posts that I really wanted to feature: six, in fact, in Jilly’s case. But I’m limited to three, and these are the three I went with:

Firstly, a post on a subject very close to my heart at the moment: Sex, depression and me. This is brave for two reasons – not only because writing about mental health is a hard thing to do, especially when it’s your own mental health, but also because it makes it clear just how much Jilly values a healthy sex life – she’s not at all willing to just sit back and accept that antidepressants are a fucking nightmare for your sex drive.

Secondly, Real, which is sex writing in a form I’ve never seen it before. I love the poetic quality of the way this is written and how accurately it evokes the fragmented thoughts that really do occur during sex.

Finally, Home is like the dust in a wine cellar, which I got the feeling was a post that Jilly herself wasn’t that keen on (do correct me if I’m wrong, Jilly!), because she’s inserted a jump into this post before you can read the main body of it. She says it’s a ‘long vent about things,’ – I’d argue that it’s much more than that.

I’ve mentioned a few times how much place and sense of place fascinates me, and this conjured up what little of Brussels I know as soon as I read it. It’s beautifully self-aware on personal development, too. Here’s my favourite paragraph:

‘The feeling was already creeping over me as I waited for my train to my home town, having just come out of an extended edition of a Eurostar journey. I was pretty much alone on what seemed like a never ending platform. In front of me lay the angular, almost Brutalist and grey architecture of Brussels, a shower of rain clouding it with an even bigger sense of post-apocalyptic darkness than it usually had emanating from it.’

On the sixth day of Christmas: Head in Book

Willingly suspend disbelief, if you will, readers – it’s still the sixth day of Christmas, ok? I’d really like to still get these all in before January 5th, which will mean a handful of posts a day most days until then, but forgive me. It’s still important for me to share what I’ve read and loved. Massive thanks also to Jade at Kink and Poly for saying how much she’s enjoying this mini-series.

So, Head in Book, aka Catherine. On the face of it perhaps a mummy-blogger, but once you start reading, so much more than that, even if you don’t have (yet, or never have any intention of having) children. Feminist, mum, lawyer and, as far as I can gather from our infrequent Twitter interactions, all round lovely lady. Oh, and her Twitter header is a picture of her bookshelf – what more can I say?

I tried to work out, reading through her archives, what post drew me into her blog and i think I must have clicked through from the post she wrote about the Michael Gove Of Mice and Men saga, or the Kirstie Allsopp ‘Just have a baby when you’re 25, darling’ furore, both of which I went on to write about myself.

I love her writing, and as usual, I had more than three posts that I wanted to link to here – for the first time though, two of them were consecutive posts, on totally different subjects. The first is a post from back in February, called How to talk to boys about periods, which I hadn’t read before today, but which struck me because a) I had noticed that going to the loo with small children is a pain for women, but periods hadn’t even occurred to me and b) there’s a paragraph in the middle which makes Catherine seem at one with her body and her menstrual cycle in a way that, at the moment, I can only dream of.

The two remaining ones are the consecutive posts, written in May. Marriage guidance for my six year old showcases Catherine’s humour and sees her daughter trade an X-box for married life in a mansion with a man who makes cake for a living. Seriously, what’s not to love?

And finally, Mother tongue, which resonated not only because of the shared languages-graduate background and love of words, but because I too have that habit of thinking ‘I don’t the like the word we commonly use for x or y – the connotations are all wrong.’ There’ll be a similar post from me soon, hopefully. Anyway, here’s an extract:

‘Words matter. Words don’t reflect what we see, they refract and reframe it. This isn’t the subject of a blogpost, of course, it’s the subject of a life’s work. But I have been thinking more and more, about the words we use around motherhood and the way in which language itself distorts our perceptions and colours – poisons, even – the debates about stuff which really matters.’

You can find Catherine’s home page here.

On the fifth day of Christmas: Girl on the Net

Earlier this month Girl on the Net was awarded the top spot in Sweet Rori’s Top 100 Sex Bloggers of 2014, and I don’t think Rori could have made a better choice.

It’s hard to put into words how I feel about Girl on the Net’s blogging – to me she feels like both one of the edgiest and one of the most ‘respectable’ faces of sex blogging. What do I mean by that? Well, she’s definitely one of the filthiest blogs I read, but so much of what she writes resonates with me and seems important that she’s the only sex blogger whose posts I regularly share with my RL friends on Facebook as well as with my Twitter followers (the filthy stuff I share with a select group, the SFW posts with all my friends).

This year, I’d say she’s written more widely and more bravely than ever (if you’ve been following these posts up till now, you’ll have noticed that bravery is something I *really* admire in people’s writing.) I’m going to be firm with myself and stick to my rule of three linked posts per blogger, but do seek out her post on anxiety for The Cocktail Hour, which was wonderful.

So, let’s start with something similar, her post What happens when you combine sex and anxiety? Obviously, this one resonated on a personal level: 2014 has been the year where I’ve discovered that the right kind of sex can lift you above the thoughts churning in your mind and bring actual, real calm, and this post captured it perfectly, helped by Stuart F Taylor’s wonderful image.

Incredibly, my second choice is a SFW one, as well, because it’s so beautifully nuanced. For reasons shortly to become apparent I’m not going to quote from my final choice in this post, so here’s an extract from In defence of monogamy:

‘While I bloody LOVE being able to write blog posts that conclude ‘OMG this is SUCH BULLSHIT’, my conclusion this time naturally has to be a bit more muted. Relationships (both monogamous and nonmonogamous) are naturally complex things. All of them involve a certain amount of negotiation, discussion and compromise. The key thing isn’t whether your relationships ‘fit’ a template that someone else has created, but whether they make you and your partners happy.’

I got a bit stuck on trying to pick a filthy post for this round up, largely because I was so completely overwhelmed by choice. I searched my handle and her’s to see what I’d retweeted with comment, because the manual RTs are normally the posts I really loved. And then I realised that the hottest post of all was dead obvious – it’s this one, on the Doxy Massager – and you don’t get an extract because it’s the sound effects that make it.

You’ll find Girl on the Net’s homepage here.

On the fourth day of Christmas: F Dot Leonora

I’d hazard a guess that I became aware of this lovely lady before she was properly aware of me. She read on the Sunday afternoon at Eroticon 2014, which was one of the few parts of the conference where I managed to hold it together. And she read beautifully, despite professing to be nervous and was just so sweet and warm that I liked her before we’d even interacted.

Since then, we’ve interacted a hell of a lot more. She’s stunningly impressive in her commitment to memes like Marie Rebelle’s Wicked Wednesday, especially because she’s taken a set of characters and developed them relentlessly through 2014, and none of the prompts seem to have remotely made her flinch.

When it comes to my top three posts though, it was her ‘Sticky Note’ fiction, based on a concept thought up by @BeingBlacksilk that I really, really struggled to choose between. I noticed Ms Solomon said on Twitter recently that she’s thinking of exploring other genres, such as horror, alongside erotica in 2015 and these sticky note posts, which really highlight her dark side, show why this is a fabulous idea. It was an endless toss up between Sticky Note #3 and Sticky Note #4, but in the end #4 won it – hopefully you’ll understand why when you read it.

Also a beautiful showcase of her longer fiction is the story she wrote for my Polished competition, Cherry Blossom. One of the things I love about the way she writes is that her language is so rich and so passionate – I know she’s a big Anais Nin fan, and I’m not the only sex blogger/erotica writer who’s commented on how much she’s been positively influenced by Nin’s style. There are no holds barred and it makes for fabulous writing. Oh, and the picture she chose for this post was fabulous, too.

Finally, is a meme that she participated in way back in February, Holding a Mirror to Myself. If you’re wondering why I’ve picked a post where she answers set questions, it’s because this is where I see the woman who’s totally confident in what she does and does it because she loves it. And boy, that’s both hot and inspiring. Anyway, here’s an extract:

Why do I write what I do?

In my experience, love is everything. No matter how people want to resist it and make it seem like it is hokey, once people fall in love it changes everything, becomes everything. So marvelous and intoxicating, like turning around and around the way children do until they get dizzy and lie on the floor to recover. Writing about people losing control in love, I love it. Gotta have that man or woman now syndrome, and the rabbit hole that it takes someone down.

If you want to follow her, you’ll find her homepage here.

On the third day of Christmas: Floraidh Clement

The idea was that by this point in my Twelve Days of Christmas posts I’d have built up a bit of a head of steam and would have written and scheduled most of these posts. But nope, I’m still flying by the seat of my pants and looking likely to miss the actual third day of Christmas with this one. Sorry, Flo.

When I started reading back over Floraidh’s archives today I was trying to remember how I first discovered her blog, and sadly, I’m still not sure. This round up was never intended to be all sex bloggers – just a reflection of the blogs I read most often, and Floraidh writes not so much about sex but more about university life, learning to love herself and a whole host of other random stuff. Which is what all the best bloggers do, in my opinion.

More than anything though, Floraidh reminds me of myself during my university years, although she’s a lot more honest about the complexity of her feelings around the whole experience, and she deserves commending for that alone. So, without further ado, my three favourite posts of Flo’s are:

1) In Defence of Selfies: It’s YOUR face – in which she sums up, very neatly, the relationship between a good photo and body/self confidence.

2) “THAT TWEET IS BLATANTLY ABOUT ME” And Other Stories of Losing My Mind On Social Media – because, well, just because it resonates, ok?!

3) Girl Crushes: Because My Eyes Aren’t Painted On – This was written around the time that I wrote about girl crushes, but Flo did a much, much better job. It’s become customary, in these posts, to give you a little extract, so here’s my favourite paragraph:

‘Yet there’s just something about women. I can appreciate the softer skin, the wider hips and more delicate wrists. They are just universally wonderful. But as time has gone on I’ve started to realise that it does go beyond the high school terminology of “fancying” them; it goes so much deeper. I think it’s just sincere wonder and admiration for beautiful human beings, whether they are this way physically or on the inside.’

And, if you want to read more of Flo’s blog, or follow her, you’ll find her homepage here.

On the first day of Christmas: Ella Dawson

So last night I alluded on Twitter to undertaking a blog project that was bigger than I originally realised. This is it. I read a fuckton of blogs, but obviously some I read more often than others and, with some work, I managed to narrow the list of my favourites to twelve. Between now and the twelfth day of Christmas, you’ll get a spotlight post a day on a particular blogger with my three favourite posts that they’ve written in 2014. The posts are in alphabetical, rather than preference, order, and if you’re not on the list, it doesn’t mean I’m not reading and/or enjoying your blog. At all. (Fuck, I hate potentially hurting people’s feelings.)

Anyway, that’s the concept. Alphabetically, the first blogger on the list is Ella Dawson, aka @brosandprose. Ella is a pretty new discovery of mine, which meant last night I had to trawl her archives to make sure my favourite posts were actually my favourite posts, but she may also be my best new blog discovery of the year. The girl writes both op-ed pieces and fiction like a dream.

So, my top three posts of Ella’s…

Let’s start with the piece she entered into (and won with) my anti-clickbait competition, Everything I learned about sex writing I learned from Taylor Swift. This one made me cry a bit, and there’s not much else I can say about it that I didn’t already say here, but fuck me, it’s good. Since she wrote it, it’s been all over the internet, including Thought Catalog, which only further serves to vouch for its excellence.

Post number two is Journal Entry: Morning Commute, which is vignette style (I do love a good vignette) and was described by someone as sounding ‘a lot like happiness.’

Finally is a much earlier post that I discovered for the very first time last night, Making smut out of politics. Here’s an extract:

I only began to write good fiction when I dared to address my own experiences and work backward. After all, my writing has always been about me. Despite what one is told, this introspection and mining of personal experience is not selfishness or arrogance. To quote Emily Gould, “If a woman writes about herself, she’s a narcissist. If a man does the same, he’s describing the human condition.” For a woman to recognize her feelings as valid is power and powerful. Writing about the harsh, gritty reality of this shiny thing that does not belong to you, that should not be yours to reveal, is a fierce activist project. That is where the “feminist” part of “feminist erotica” finally began to make sense to me.

Ella, I adore your writing and long may you continue in the same vein. Merry Christmas x