Friday, April 13, 2012
The Art of Writing No 12
It seems like a lot of you are now following these meandering blogs about writing. I have spent most of my life as a writer, both academic and fictional and there is much to pass on, be it idiosyncratic and personal. However, there must be much that is generalisable, should you take it and extrapolate it into your own context. Being a series of random acts, these insights are just how they arise in my mind. Maybe later I will order and refine them into a manual and put them on kindle for free.
I wrote recently on twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/Profjacksanger) The pen penetrates the blank page in an act of copulation and the cells of the story begin multiplying. In a Freudian sense, sex is in everything we do. If men think of it every ten seconds and women not quite so much, it must infiltrate (or inseminate) our writing. Nevertheless it still has an aura of taboo for the writer. How to describe the physical, emotional and intellectual consequences of such intimacy? Like fingerprints, everyone has sex as part of his or her make-up but, like fingerprints, the experience of it is unique. So we are aware, when we write about the sexual act that if we over-indulge, people will scoff and if we take Wittgenstein’s view (that which cannot be spoken of, should be passed over in silence) the reader knows we are copping out. What kind of writers are we then?
Overwriting is a bit like Hitchcock discovering Freudian imagery in the sixties. Towers rising and falling, trains rushing into tunnels, shoals of little fish thrashing about. Hyperbole and sex don’t seem to go together. Sex-writing, like everything else, should be conditioned by the relationships and the setting in which it takes place. If the couple have an edgy relationship then does sex between them smooth out or intensify the edginess? Sex in a luxurious hotel may be very differently described from sex in a back alley or in the domestic bedroom where it has taken place hundreds of times and can show the break down of a relationship or, indeed, the rejuvenation of one.
So, when it comes to writing about sex, you must spend far more time on getting it right than when describing other human acts or scenery. Here’s something I wrote in The Strange Attractor (Kindle e-books Amazon):
“On the chair,” says your pleading voice between the probing tongue strokes in my ear. It stands waiting, a deus ex machina of odd limbs in the centre of the room. And now I am almost silent in my gorging as you fill all my horizons. You speak and croon to me in barely intelligible growls and moans. You are astride me and your naked thighs are rising upon me. The chair tips precipitously and my limbs strain into delicious pain as I hold you mid air so that you can let reason go and make your animal instincts blot out all logic. Your pincering internal muscles grip me and work on me as I bend to your breasts and lay hand and mouth to your nipples. Finally, we ride together, sound-tracked by your jolting whimpers, into a temporary eyes-shut darkness.
Does it do what I have said? Does it capture some aspect of the womanising male detective’s character? (He is the ‘I’, the first person narrator of the story). Is it sufficiently unique? Does the setting of the chair, an art piece installation, promote enough of an environmental difference? You could of course download the book and enjoy all of Ted Silver’s sexual and other exploits!
The Strange Attractor by Jack Sanger Kindle Amazon