Monday, December 17, 2007

Writing Sex

I once watched infomercials and re-read books after losing the fight with insomnia. But there are only so many flowbees one can buy as gag gifts for friends you don't like so much, and there are only so many times one can re-read a trashy airplane novel. Even Nabokov begins to suffer on the 127th read at 3AM: "She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line".... blah blah blah, I get it Humbert, you had a pervy thing for a little girl, SHE seduced YOU, you still loved her even when she grew up and became all gross with heavy breasts and arm hair, you killed for her, and now you are in jail because of it. I GET IT!

(Wow. The BLASPHEMY. I'm waiting for lightning to strike.)

Lately, I've been reading blogs when I can't sleep. And last night, I read a bunch of blogs describing sexual encounters with great attention to detail. This is my big takeaway: It's HARD to write a good sex scene. The mechanics of sex, when written down, are NOT sexy. I'm not saying that it's impossible to write a good sex scene. It's just absurdly difficult and I've read very few descriptions of sex that didn't make me cringe.

In my epic trashy novel, I avoided sex scenes like the plague. Imagine, a trashy novel with no sex scenes! Not everybody can write a scene about a little girl and an apple and make it erotic and compelling and strangely beautiful despite the obvious ick factor. And I gave up trying years ago - my trashy novel sex scenes were like those out of black and white movies - the leading man plants one on the leading lady in a manly, closed mouth sort of way, and then it cuts to trains going through tunnels.

Well, last night I tried again. I ended up using lots of words beginning with the letter "T": turgid, tumescent, tumultuous, torrid, torrential, tango. I know, I know, "tango"? (It sort of made sense though). At one point, delirious with lack of sleep, I tried to alphabetize my "T" words, but it just didn't fit with how I wanted the scene to flow if I used "tango" first.

Instead of referring to the internet, I've gone old-school, back to my bookcase, to end this post with a REALLY GOOD sex scene describing a girl's first time:
"Let's just stay," he said, breathing hard.

"Well, okay." I closed my eyes as tightly as I could. "I'm ready," I said bravely. When nothing happened, I opened my eyes.

He look at me as if he had amnesia. Then he looked surprised, then frustrated. "Okay, okay," he said, half pulling me up. We stood and I saw his erection and was so surprised I walked into the doorjamb on the way out. When we got in bed I was surprised how ready I was, and how easily he slipped in. He moved in and out hard at first, making my head hit against the headboard. I wouldn't have minded, expect I was scared I might get knocked out, and then I'd miss the most important part; but that didn't happen.
- Cynthia Kadohata, The Floating World.

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