Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sex and the Writer- Part One of Five





Our sexuality empowers our writing.  


Family members hate to hear writers discuss such things.  Ever see a child recoil at the thought of their parents having sex?  So if you're going to read this series of posts, please don't tell your family.

Our readers don't like to think about it, either.  It's okay if our characters are sexually attractive or charismatic, but not you and I.  We're the storytellers.  We're supposed to be the trusted narrators of their stories, not vicarious participants.  

"I wish they'd take writer's pictures off of their books," one reader told me.  "It spoils my image of their characters."

Now that's odd, I thought.  We write the stories, but they don't like to think of us in the stories.  That's especially true when it comes to sex.  We'll take a closer look at this phenomena in the next post.

After that, we'll explore the complex relationship between sexuality and creativity.  I won't look at sterile, stilted surveys and studies, but I will be exploring why only sexually driven writers can create intensely engaging fiction.  I'm not talking about creating sex scenes, I'm talking about the ability to create powerful fiction.

What about the great social fiction that has nothing to do with sex?

It might be a great topic, but it's not our topic.  But to deal with the question tangentially, I believe only writers who are intensely sexual can create powerful social fiction.  Our creative power comes from our sexuality.  Social tensions, if you really examine, are strongly rooted in out sexuality.

It's a complex topic, but let me start you off with something to think about- when you write your story, have you ever considered the image your reader has of you, the writer?  Are you good looking- as a narrator?  Are you a man or a woman? Are you powerful?  Are you ruthless?  Are you lonely?  Remember, I'm talking about the way you come across to your readers, not your characters.

Think about it- who are you (as a narrator) to your readers?  Who do they imagine you to be?


20 comments:

Sidney said...

Seems like a relevant contemplation for sure. It's an inescapable part of life for sure.

Rick said...

After I met Charlene Harris in person, it became impossible for me to read her books because I knew her. The sex scenes- well, I just couldn't handle them after I'd met her.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I hope they see me as a nice guy, one who is balanced and positive.
And if sexually driven writers write the best fiction, I've finally found my saving grace! Must go inform my wife now...

Rick said...

Now that's funny, Alex!

Let me ask you Scarlet O'Hara and Rhett Butler. One of the most famous romantic relationships in modern literature.

Not to drill everyone with these questions, but have you ever wondered about Margaret Mitchell's romantic life? Ever wonder what her family thought what she wrote? Have you ever seen a picture of her?

Try this- if she was "frumpy" looking, would it creep you out to know that the woman behind the steamy Scarlet wasn't "hot?"

Nebular said...

"Rick said...

we actually pay for movie and book reviews over at White Cat Magazine. I'll have to have our editor contact you. You do a great job."

Hey, Rick! Did you really mean that? :) It would be great if you tell your editor to contact with me. I've always wanted to be a professional film critic, otherwise said, to get paid for my reviews. That would be a dream come true for me. THANK YOU so much!

Rick said...

Hi Nebular! All you have to do is head over to "www.whitecatpublications.com," click on the "Contact Us" menu along the top of the screen, scroll down to "queries@whitecatpublications.com" and send Chuck an email. Like I said, we're looking for movie and book reviews and glad to have them. We only publish quarterly, so there's a bit of a wait between being accepted and being published, but go for it!

Charles Gramlich said...

A really interesting issue to consider. I probably need to think about it a bit. I suppose with my hair and the pics I've shown online I've tried to express a certain character. I'd like to think it fits with my stories. It wasn't a conscious thing, though.

Rick said...

Yep, Charles, you've got that Bob Seeger/ Clint Eastwood look going.

Anne Gallagher said...

Truly an interesting topic. And you know, I think you have something there. Most of the authors I cut my teeth on oh so many years ago were probably in their 30's when they wrote those books. Now they're in their 60's and some of them have never changed their cover photos. Ewww.

And for what it's worth, Stephen Kind still looks creepy.

Rick said...

Thanks, Anne, and you are so write. Stephen King has always looked kind of creepy. Very creepy.

Travis Cody said...

I've had some readers react to my poetry as thought it were autobiographical, particularly when I use first person. There seems to be a conscious effort to fuse me as the writer to me as the subject of the work.

I've often wondered if that's because The Wolf stands as my image online. And so no one really knows what I look like, other than to infer from my words, or to make it up in their own minds.

I'm looking forward to your thoughts on this topic.

Rick said...

There a lot of readers, Travis, who believe that most writers, if not all use people they know in their stories but try to disguise them. Hemingway was famous for this.

It's like they don't believe in imagination. Next post we'll set them straight.

Emily R. King said...

Intriguing ideas. I'll be back to see where this series goes.

Rick said...

Glad to have you stop by, Emily, and looking forward to your coming by again! You have, by the way, a great blog.

BernardL said...

I never let the author's picture affect my reading their novels, but I admit it has caused me some pause with YA fiction writing. I just finished a new YA novel yesterday. I think I'd leave my picture off the back cover if I get a contract on it. :)

Rick said...

I think you've hit on something, Bernard. YA readers are probably more susceptible to flattering photos than more mature audiences.

Maybe we should hire stunt doubles for author photos.

G said...

Definitely an interesting question. As I've just started writing fiction with sex in it, I think it would be a major detriment if people knew what I look like.

Especially if they read the novel that I'm currently shopping around.

'Cause you know that a bald fat guy writing sexual fiction can be detrimental to one's suspenion of belief.

Rick said...

We need secret identities like super-heroes, G.

Shannon Lawrence said...

This is fascinating to think about. I've thought about appearance mattering at a writer's conference, for instance, but not so much the cover photo and such when it reflects on your writing. And, more importantly, unleashing sexuality to get real feeling and power into writing. Interesting series.

(And Alex cracked me up; hubby would be delighted if I took this topic to him!)

Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

Rick said...

Let me know how hubby reacts to this, Shannon. I think he'll be even more wildly supportive of your writing!