Let’s Talk (I mean WRITE) About Sex #WRITELIKECRAZY

My work in progress is a love triange.  A love rectangle, really.  (It is also a pretty intense look at the collateral damage of mass incaceration, but love thing is what I am working on now.)  When you have at least three people in love, there is going to be some physicality and I have to write it.  I spend my whole writing day trying to write a scene between Roy and Davina.  In the writing, I discovered something about myself: apparently, I’m shy.

I thought about going the innuendo route, sparing myself from having the write anything hot and sweaty.  Afterall, I reasoned, sometimes you can convey a lot just through describing touches, glances, etc.  But I had to face it– I was pretending to take some sort of high ground because the scenes that needed writing made me uncomfortable.  And let’s face it, when you feel uncomfortable while writing, it probably means you really MUST write that scene.  What famous person said tha literature is meant to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable?

So for this week, I have been trying to get Roy and Davina in a room and let nature take its course.  For the last two writing day, Ive had these characters taking their own sweet time having dinner because I am too shy to really GoThere with what happens after dinner.  I never would have thought of myself as a hesitant writer. I’m not a prude.  My friends can tell you that I can girl-talk with the best of them.  But me in my own living room pouring cosmos for my girls is different that me writing something that the whole world will read.  And here was the issue.  When my students say, in squeaky voices, that they fear certain subject matter, I urge them on.  I tell them that they should never be afriad to write. Writing is private. It’s between you and the page.  Don’t worry about exposing yourself until it’s time to publish and by then you might not even care.

But there I was, timidly typing.

I pushed through my fear and wrote the chapter.  I am trying to recollect exactly how I pushed past the block.  I tried to think about the craft of writing sex scenes.  The rule of thumb is that sex scene must advance the plot or complicate our understanding of the characters’ relationship.  But when I thought of it that way, I felt like the story went flat.  What I wrote was the opposite of hot.  So I ripped that page out typewriter and started again.

The way I was able to write the scene was to stop thinking about what would happen when the book is published.  I stopped imagining myself reading the chapter aloud a a sweet little bookstore.  I had to just sort of tune out of the “real” world and llose myself in the world of my characters. I pretended that I was the best friend of the characters and I imagined how she would tell me about that night.  I imagined that I was the male character’s brother and I imagine what he would say.  Then I tried to fill in the blanks and imagine what part of what happened between them that they wouldn’t tell anyone.

It was in the part that they didn’t tell that I found the hotness of the scene, but also the character development what I was looking for.

The fear an self consciousness went away when my own desire to understand the characters became more pressing than any worry I had about what anyone else would think about my work.

That’s the key.

How’s your #WRITELIKECRAZY August going?  Hit any roadblocks? Tell us how you got around them.

About TayariJones

Author of SILVER SPARROW, LEAVING ATLANTA, and THE UNTELLING.
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