24 November 2005

A least it's not the weather

One of the things about keeping a blog is that I have to make entries. I've been trying. Really I have. I wrack my brain trying to think of interesting and witty things to say, but the reality is I'm struggling with a novella I'm writing and appalled at how this has taken over my life. Well, not really, I'm pleased that I'm engrossed in it, even if I stare out the window and try and work out where it's going. But it does mean I now live in squalor. No procrastination house work for me! I was inspired to clean the bathroom because friends were coming over, so I should thank them from saving me from some terrible disease I thought I'd get if I didn't clean it soon. Now I need a similar motivation to vacuum and clean out the fridge.

A blog on housework. The interest quota in my life has hit an all time low. At least I didn't open this blog with the weather. I've taken Elmore Leonard's 10 "rules" to heart.
  1. Never open a book with weather.
  2. Avoid prologues.
  3. Never use a verb other than ''said'' to carry dialogue.
  4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb ''said'' . . .
  5. Keep your exclamation points under control.
  6. Never use the words ''suddenly'' or ''all hell broke loose.''
  7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
  8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
  9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
  10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

I'm off to Melbourne this weekend to see people and buy jewelry. I always buy jewelry when I go to Melbourne. Not sure why, other than there's a great shop with branches in Cliffton Hill and Carlton called Cellini's where I always buy earrings. It's a good idea to go to Acland Street after that and eat pastries to recover. I'll take a copy of my work in progress and seek inspiration in St Kilda. Or maybe Brunswick Street. There's a great cafe there called Babka's. That's the other thing I do in Melbourne, eat a lot.

13 November 2005

Thinking about BDSM

Yesterday I watched a documentary about Dominique Aury the author of, under the pseudonym Pauline Reage, "The Story of O." It was fascinating watching a very ordinary woman talk about a book that was such a milestone in erotic writing. I've always had a perplexed attitude to BDSM. I've always found it hard to understand the eroticism of pain and the willingness of some people to give up complete control to another, particularly in the context of unequal power relations between the sexes.

But I've continued to listen to articulate and intelligent women and men with thoughtful and committed social justice politics talk about the deep sexual and emotional satisfaction they experience through BDSM sexual practices, so I can't just write it off as a kinky perversion. Not that I would have, being suspicious of that response to anything sexually "different" or difficult.

But, something clicked for me when Dominique Aury talked about the spiritual component of handing over control to something greater and outside of ones self and how this is experienced as a transcendent moment. She likened it to the mortification of the flesh and the spiritual ecstasy common in many religious traditions. This made me think BDSM could be a secular version of this age old spiritual practice.

There's probably nothing in new in this idea for anyone who's into BDSM, but it made sense to me in a way I hadn't previously thought about.

It's also made me understand a little more the writings of someone like Magdelena, who describes here in loving detail her experienced of being birched by her lover. Here she shows us the result, which I must admit I found fairly disturbing. But the spiritual as well as sexual satisfaction (I doubt there is a distinction for her) is very obvious in her writing.

All things to ponder on and mull over. Not the least in relation to the way I think about my own need for control and how this related to a spritual practice.

My writing is not going as well as it was, but I'm doing some nearly everyday. As always it's a plot problem, but I think I see the way forward. If I can't do 1,500 words a day, 500 is better than nothing.

Perhaps I experience writing in the same way Magdelena experiences being birched, pain and then release. The agony of it not it going the way I want it to and then the satisfaction when I give up control and allow it to flow in what ever way it needs. Even more to think about.

08 November 2005

Resisting Definitions

Even though I live in Australia, I’m a member of Romance Writers’ of America. I’ve found it useful for networking, finding out about the market, learning the craft and having some on line fun with members in other countries. Passionate Ink is the online erotic romance chapter of RWA which is full of some talented and hard working gals (don’t think there are any boys but I could be wrong).

But I was royally pissed off (as were a lot of other members) when the previous RWA Board, in a sudden rush of blood to their collective brains, decided that romance need a definition. A clear, unambiguous definition so we all know where we are and what we’re writing about.

Sex, intimacy and romance are so easy to define aren’t they? No murkiness, no uncertainty, no conflicts about who feels what and why. Romance should be easy to define, it’s just about a man and a woman falling in love and living happily ever after.

Yeah, right.

I don’t what cloud cuckoo land the previous RWA Board members live in but last time I looked, my gay and lesbian sisters and brothers fall in and out of love, have sex and struggle with intimacy. In fact I venture to say the whole romance genre has been fundamentally influenced by the political and sexual libertarian movements of the last thirty years that have made romance a lot more reality based than the bodice rippers of the past.

So why the RWA Board decided the membership needed to vote on the definition of romance is beyond me.

Romance has always been sneered at and frowned upon by other genres (the slutty younger sister of the literary world according to one of my writing mates) so setting up a vote to define it makes RWA look not only foolish but homophobic as well.

So I was happy when a number of established romance writers, in an open letter published in the November issue of the Romance Writers Report, the monthly journal of RWA, condemned the definition vote as homophobic and could turn RWA into a hate group.

Good on you:
Anjali Banerjee
Brenda Hiatt Barber
Stella Cameron
Sharyn Cerniglia
Debra Dixon
Carol Dunford
Katherine Garbera
Julie Hurwitz
Lynda Ward
Susan Wiggs

Writers’ organisations like PEN fight for freedom of expression for writers. How appalling that RWA as another writer’s organisation could even contemplate a vote about a definition of romance that would deny the stories and experiences of a large number of people, some of whom are our friends, family and lovers. In the end of course, what ever is decided is irrelevant. People, what ever their sexual preference, will continue to write about love, sex and intimacy as they have for millennia. A ill conceived vote won’t stop them.

02 November 2005

New Stories at ERWA

The Erotica Readers and Writers Association has its new edition up for November and I have two stories there, one a romantic lesbian ghost story and one a fragment on grief. You can see them if you click on the links to the right of this post. There are also stories from some great writers like remittance girl, Eiffel Crisp, William Dean and Jolie du Pre. The stories aren't there anymore but go to my web site here for some others

Check out remittance girl , jolie du pre at their sites.

The writing is still burning thank goodness. I'm getting up at 5.30 am to do a couple of hours before I go to work. Managing about 1,000 words a day which is good for me. I'd like to do 2,000 but life has an irritating tendency to intervene and make me tired. And I'm a morning person. I'd love to stay up late and write, but my eyes can't take it. But I seem to be ploughing on with my vicar and sex shop owner. She's much more prudish than he is about some things. I'm enjoying writing about them.