Hey, where’s my conflict? – on writing solo sex

IMG_9294

It’s a truth universally acknowledged (or it should be), that the things that other people like best are not always the pieces you loved writing.

Little Silver Bullet came from nowhere, and not, all at the same time. Since the Smut Marathon Round 4 assignment (‘One character. One sex toy. No brand names.’) was announced, I’d been percolating a different piece. Not a different toy, I should say – in real life, toys are one of the few areas where I put efficiency and function way ahead of brand – and I’ve been repurchasing this pretty much since I turned eighteen (no, they don’t stock it anymore and yes, I’m worried).

The story I planned to write – the story that, until I decided to write this post instead and until Little Silver Bullet did so well I don’t want to betray it by writing an alternative and asking which people prefer – also featured a bullet vibe. But I’d envisaged an office Christmas party, a solo woman working with a team of extremely sexist and corporate salesmen, and a Secret Santa gift designed to undermine her. I’d pictured her slipping off to the loo in a city bar, and getting off as she pictured them fucking her one by one. The t story would have come straight from my fantasies, but LSB? LSB came straight from my *heart*.

The unnamed protagonist could be me. It is fiction, but I’ve been there, many times. And I think lots of women have. I think that’s why it resonated. It’s not a clever story, it’s just an honest one.

Clever is one way to stand out in something like the Smut Marathon, but writing clever can be exhausting (although that said, the clever entries in this round blew my mind). You can spend so much time trying to think of the alternative angle that you forget to write something that’s true to you. And – I know it’s my bugbear – clever should never override story, in my opinion.

Although I’d written and submitted this piece by the time I attended it, this round made me think a lot about a writing workshop I went to recently, a workshop which I tweeted a bit about but never finished my thoughts on, hence this post.

The theme of the workshop was generating new story ideas and, at the start of the session, we were asked to write down the following things:

  • three names for fictional characters
  • three names of places (geographical places or places in e.g. the home)
  • three objects.

We then had to cross out one of the character names, one of the place names and choose one of the objects and then do twenty minutes free writing with the five words we had left. And … it works. It makes you write.

Afterwards, the instructor explained why it works. It works because all good writing needs conflict (much easier when you have more than one character) and progression (moving from one place to another guarantees physical progression at least). The object is intended to embody whatever the theme of your writing is, although I’d be inclined to say that that’s a optional extra and depends how much you like symbolism in your work.

The Smut Marathon assignment only technically allowed for one character, which makes  creating conflict REALLY FUCKING HARDI, along with many others, decided to interpret this as meaning you could only have one character in the room, participating in the actual masturbation scene, but it didn’t mean you couldn’t mention people who were in your character’s thoughts/fantasies – as it turned out, everything I voted for took this approach.

Lots of the feedback I’ve seen on this round suggested that readers were disappointed that more of us didn’t pick more ‘out there’/unusual toys. I’m happy to admit that I think most, if not all, of the stories that did take this approach were really creative, but I still don’t think it was the only way to do a good job in this round. Think about the sex writing you’ve loved most – it doesn’t follow that you’ll always like anal scenes more than missionary because the former is technically more exciting.

It’s the human in the scene that matters, not the silicone.

 

Advertisements

Self love: more than masturbation

Self love. It’s a euphemism, a way of skirting around something that isn’t talked about in polite society, which isn’t really the way I do things. If it’s not something most people would talk about in polite society – sex, masturbation, writing erotica in your spare time – you can pretty much guarantee I’ll be doing it.

I’ve been lucky, I think, when it comes to masturbation – no one has ever tried to make me feel guilty about it, and the shelf crammed with erotica on public display by my bed is just a grown-up update on the pile I hid under Mills & Boon novels as a teen, and which my mum kindly turned a blind eye to.

I’m with Girl on the Net on wanking, though – it’s not something I indulge in in a sensual, lingering manner. I know what works for me and everything about the way I do it, from the toys I use to the times of day I pick – just as I’m on the cusp of sleep, at night, or when I’m already late for work in the morning, conspires to mean that I’m all about an orgasm in under five minutes – often it barely feels like engaging with my body at all.

And I’m okay with that. Sex positivity often suggests, with the best of intentions, I think, that women should understand their bodies – I’m thinking the hand mirror between the legs trick that teenage girls are sometimes told to try in order to be able to identify what’s ‘down there,’ and the assumption that, once you understand your body, liking it will naturally follow. Which is a nice idea, but not necessarily the reality.

Partly, I think what I struggle with is the separation of body and mind. We talk a lot about women’s bodies, and increasingly we acknowledge their minds in so far as women’s desires and fantasies are more recognised now than ever before, but I still think the conversation about self-love in the sense of being mentally healthy and at ease with ourselves has a long way to go.

Luxuries and indulgent products for women are often marketed as being something for use when we escape from the myriad demands put on our time, often by the people who care about us and who we care about – I’m thinking partners, children. Loneliness isn’t something that’s acknowledged (and yes, I see that it’s not an ideal way to sell products!) – women are painted as always trying to grab ten minutes ‘for themselves’ rather than watching the hours stretching out in front of them, filling their time with as many activities as they can, in order to distract themselves from the fact that something feels like it’s missing. Because it can’t just be me, can it?

I’ve mastered masturbation. I understand my body. My mind, not so much. Which is why, for me, self love is as much about learning to sit alone in a cinema and enjoy the experience as it is about wanking.

Dolphin

For Lent this year, I gave you up. It was Girl onthenet’s fault. She gave up her sex power tool, and I consigned you, my little AA powered clit stim, to the drawer for forty days and forty nights.

And I have to say, I didn’t really miss you, though I expected to. Staying in the guest room at a friend’s a week or two before Lent began I had a quiet, shuddering morning orgasm using my fingers only, something I hadn’t done for years and years. It made me remember that the sensations of a non-battery-driven climax are totally different – deeper, slower, more satisfying somehow.

Which is why you and I took a break. I committed not to no orgasms for that period, but to more – two a week, using only my fingers – and God, the reasons behind it were complicated. You were starting to scare me; I was worried I’d lost my ability to come in any reasonable timeframe without you, and that was why he couldn’t make me come either.

Of course, it wasn’t that simple, which was why I didn’t blog about that period right away. I didn’t miss you, because I didn’t miss coming – I was always too tired, too anxious, too indifferent. Me, the girl who used to always wank at least once a day, and often twice.

It was August that I realised something had changed. I was staying alone in a flat in the South of France and I was horny all the bloody time. I hadn’t felt like that for ages. I’d packed you and I ran down battery after battery that week. I felt triumphant, like I’d found myself again. My sex drive, which had been missing for months (presumably because of anxiety/depression) was finally back. And so, in black, airbrushed ink that smudged the first time I applied sun cream and had to be wiped straight off, I recreated something I’d last done at 20, when I was famed among uni friends for having a dolphin-shaped vibrator: I had sea creatures tattooed on my ankle.


rainbowcircle1-150

A single girl and her sex toys

As I’ve said many a time here, I’ve been single forever, and so inevitably, one of the most important relationships I have in my life is with my sex toys. Except, ahem, I say ‘sex toys,’ but this is another area in which I’m completely monogamous, so let’s revise that. Sex toy.

I have had a number of vibrators over the years – from my first rabbit, which I had sent to myself overseas when I was working abroad on my gap year, to my Hitachi magic wand which I bought a couple of years back and *hated* (yes, seriously – I prefer my fillings not to vibrate, thank you very much). I used to want to run Ann Summers but I’m over that now – recently I’ve decided that running this would be dream retail career. My absolute favourite vibrator I replaced three times – it was a bog standard Ann Summers clit stim, that took a single AA battery (because seriously, that’s the golden rule of vibrators – make sure you’ll always be able to replace the batteries at the all night garage) topped with a soft dolphin whose purpose I could never quite figure out. In fact, I’m pretty sure its purpose was negligible because it always broke off in the end and I can’t say I enjoyed the functionality less. I didn’t replace it because of the broken dolphin, either, I replaced it because the strength of the vibrations always ended up breaking the lock on the battery compartment, which apparently, is why Ann Summers eventually discontinued it. Luckily, the amazing Sh Women’s Emporium now sell this one, which is pretty similar, except for the silly rabbit sleeve bit, which is like putting a cover on a hot water bottle (hot water bottles and baths should be scorching hot, and vibrators should be powerful without anything in the way to dull the sensations).

It does other fancy stuff that the Ann Summers one couldn’t do too, like knowing how to breathe underwater (by which I mean it can survive underwater, obviously!), but I’m not interested in any of that fancy functionality. As soon as I bought my first vibe, I lost interest in making myself come in any other way than with a toy, on my back, in bed. In many ways, it’s not a problem – I can come that way in less than 5 minutes which is helpful not only when I’m horny but also when I’m knackered but have a lot on my mind and can’t quite drop off to sleep. The other day, the boy challenged me via text to come in less than 90 seconds, and I nearly managed it – only afterwards did I realise that I think he meant me to use my fingers. But then, I wouldn’t beat cake mix by hand, so why would  I choose to make my life more complicated in the bedroom?

The issue comes from the fact that I have pretty much entirely forgotten how to make myself come using just my fingers. If a guy tells me to touch myself during sex, it makes me less likely to come, not more – I find that my fingers get in the way of his thrusts and it throws me out of the moment, because I always expect it to take ages. But it makes it harder for him to make me come that way, too, and that is something I’d like to change, because much as the pursuit of my own orgasm is one of the least important aspects of sex for me, I miss the fact that guys using their fingers no longer feels as good as it used to when I was still a desperately horny teenager.

So, single girls with a love of toys, I guess what I’m asking is – how do you avoid losing your touch?