Last week I stumbled across the Erotic Journal Challenge by Brigit Delaney (how adorable is her logo? I’m green with envy!). Since I’m terribly inconsistent and perpetually inspiration-less with this blog thing, I’m giving this challenge a shot, hoping it will help me to blog some more.
I have a lot of things on my mind lately concerning the struggle with my PCOS and Hashimoto’s, and I want 2019 to be the year I finally get better. My hope is that getting physically better will also help me to get better mentally and kick depression’s ass. However, I’m expecting a long and hard journey, and I’m only just at the beginning. Baby steps is what I’m telling myself.
What does this have to do with the Erotic Journal Challenge? Well, since striving for health is the most prominent thing in my life right now, it’s going to color my perspective of everything else. While I’m reminiscing about the past, my thoughts will inevitably bounce back to the present. This week’s prompt is Sex Ed, and there are some things I really wish I’d known earlier.
Prompt #11, 3/16-3/24: Sex Ed – What were you taught about sex as you grew up? What did you not know that you wished you’d known? What/how did you teach yourself? Who taught you the most?
Maybe I wouldn’t be at this lowest point in my life health-wise if I had paid more attention in biology class in school. I was 18 when my gyn warned me about hormonal irregularities in my body for the first time. She wanted me to see an endocrinologist to check it out further. My menstrual cycle has always been irregular, which prompted her to take a closer look. But I, 18 and stupid, shrugged it off. I had other things on my mind. If I had been diagnosed with PCOS earlier, maybe I would have taken better care of my health. I got pregnant at age 20, and again at 21, with maybe 3 (irregular) periods in between, and I forgot all about hormonal imbalances amidst diapers and stubborn infants.
I should have paid more attention. But my “Sex Ed” came mostly from romance novels and concentrated more on the pleasure side than the functional side of things. At least, what was considered pleasure in 90s romance novels. The very first novel I bought myself, a Historical Gold Extra serial, contained a (in hindsight horrifying) rape scene. The heroine thinks she’s starting a position as a governess and the “hero” thinks she’s a sex worker sent to “teach” him sex. And when the heroine refuses him and “acts” like an inexperienced virgin, he takes it as an act meant to please him and proceeds regardless. Again and again. As you see, that scene left quite the impression, and I can still recall it vividly over 20 years later.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s been formative for my sexual fantasies as a pubescent girl or even till today, or if that was inside of me even before. Maybe it just gave me a nudge. Once, I had to ask my grandmother to open a belt I had fastened too tightly because I liked the pressure of it around me. I was hardly six. Ropes and games where someone would be tied up (preferably to a tree after having been caught in a round of Robber and Gendarme) fascinated me even before I could read. (It’s still a recurring theme in my writing today – just take a look at The Hunting Game. Go on, it’s free).
Sure, going to school in Germany, I knew the bolts and nuts of sex. Sex Ed is a recurring thing in school here, starting in elementary school. Plus, being a teen in the 90s, I had the BRAVO, a pop music magazine aimed at teens that also contained educational content about sexuality. Every German Millennial knows Dr. Sommer and their column in the BRAVO. However, they, too, concentrated more on the nuts and bolts and the importance of using condoms, waiting till you’re ready, making sure your partner really wants what you’re doing enthusiastically.
Maybe I had taken that first warning of my gyn more seriously if I had known more about the fundamental importance of our hormones. But I skipped the last, most in-depth Sex Ed unit in school. It coincided with a time when anything remotely sexual triggered me following an incident of sexual violence. I didn’t want to see naked bodies. I didn’t want to learn anything about those instruments of attack. I stayed away from biology class.
Ultimately, I don’t know if things would be any different today had I attended that class. I don’t know if I had learned what I should have known to realize the consequences of a little hormonal imbalance. Maybe I just should have listened more closely to my gyn. Maybe I was just young and brash and stupid, period. Still, whenever I think of the Sex Ed back in school, I think of that one phone call I made from the coin telephone underneath the stairs in the school’s auditorium, when I called off my appointment with the endocrinologist. And I wonder if my life would be different now.
It’s Halloween, which isn’t really a thing here, but it’s an occasion for me to ponder the fears haunting my poor, little, lost soul. This rambling thing (not really a post) was brought on by this post by Rachel Woe on the Sisters in Smut page. What should have been a fortifying little pep talk to myself turned instead into a reckoning with my fear-riddled soul.
Risks and fear are inextricably related.
The greater the fear, the bigger the perceived risk we need to take to overcome the fear. Some fears are shapeless, dark monsters lurking at the edges of our vision, and we’re not exactly sure WHAT they really are. Some are neatly defined, named, labelled and put in a box to gather dust. We never take the box down from its place on the shelf to examine its contents, but it’s there, allowed to live on on the shelf space of our minds. Continue Reading
Juggling real life and writing deadlines can be tricky, and we don’t always make our best decisions in the heat of the moment.
I haven’t written a word since December. Maybe even November. I’ve tried, but I couldn’t squeeze any words out of this brain. There was a lot going on in those last few months, so it wasn’t exactly a surprise.
Since new year, I’ve been trying to write a story for a submission call. I really wanted to submit a story, but between having guests (including my newborn niece) and never ending virus infections (my kids have been coughing their infections back and forth, all the more easily for sharing their room since before Christmas to make room for our guests), the words have been coming slow. I started a few stories and discarded them after only a few words. Same with blog posts.
The deadline for this call came closer and I ran dry on words. My desperation became so intense that, in a crazy spur of the moment decision that I already regret, I went back to waiting tables. It’s not that I have anything against earning money. I already have a list of things to do with all the money I haven’t yet earned, so long that I have to wait tables for five years to make it to the end of that list. I really need new glasses. I want to renovate my little one’s room. And the bedroom. I want to save up for a trip to Mexico. I want to buy fabric (so much fabric) to sew all the things. And so much more.
One day after I started my new side job, the deadline for the submission call ended, and all I had was one half baked story. But better try and fail than not try at all is my motto, so I put together my submission. Reading the guidelines one last time to make sure I get everything correctly, I realized that I could send in two stories.
With the deadline only a few hours away and one story short (hah), it’s like someone pulled out the stopper. I had nothing to lose, so I sat down, wrote till three in the morning, and sent the second story off to my beta (hallelujah for living in different time zones).
“You need more deadlines,“ my guest tells me, watching as my fingers hit the keyboard feverishly. She’s not wrong, but since the lack of sleep had me finally succumbing to the same virus infection my kids had been fostering for three weeks, I’m not sure it would be healthy in the long run. Because now, I’m really having a fever, and this one sadly is no metaphor.
But I also have tapped back into my writing well and discovered new inspiration. So now I’m thinking I might finally tackle some longer projects. Because one thing going back to waiting tables does is taking some of the pressure off. It allows me to give myself more time to let a story flourish.
Since going professional (sort of), I’ve always felt the pressure of having to publish frequently to generate views and an income, however small. I’ve failed spectacularly at this; I resorted to writing shorter stories in order to publish more frequently, but it took me almost as long as a longer story to write a short story in the end. Now my stories and my writing career have time to grow without the daunting shadow of existential dread looming over me.
I still hate waiting tables, but I do love it when the pressure comes off. And I’ve heard it’s sometimes even helpful to leave the house once in a while to refill the well of inspiration.
Wait, that’s not what you talk about with your mom?
It’s been a few days since I returned home from my little vacation with even more need to recuperate. I brought home a bunch of new story idea and a bladder infection (yay). Now I’m planted firmly atop a heated cherry pit cushion (that’s the German way – hot water bottle or cherry pits. My father in law suggested schnapps). Continue Reading
Lana Fox posted about what erotica should be during dark times, and as I have a lot of feelings about this topic (and also because they were so incredibly kind as to include my response on Twitter in their post), I’m trying to put something into words that I’ve been carrying around for a long time now. Sometimes (all the times, honestly), 140 characters on Twitter are just not enough. (Especially not when I don’t have access to my computer and have to operate Twitter on my phone.) Continue Reading
Apparently it’s the time of personal stories for me. This one needs some content warnings, so here’s your heads up: This essay contains mentions of suicide and drug use as well as graphic descriptions of sex. And there’s a little bit of blood.
Writing erotica is, for me, an exercise in self-exploration. It’s finding the things that push my buttons and examining them. Isabel Allende wrote that “For women, the best aphrodisiacs are words. The G-spot is in the ears. He who looks for it below there is wasting his time.” In my experience, that’s absolutely true. Sex, for me, happens mostly in my mind. My imagination is what fuels my engine. I’m not sure yet if that’s part of my problem or part of the solution. Continue Reading
This will be a bit of a all-over-the-place kinda post. There will be some legal talk about beekeeping, sinful baking, and some book review quickies.
First, I switched projects once again. As I got stuck writing Durwin’s story, I decided to work on something else instead. So now I’m working on a fun romp of a first draft I finished quite a while ago. Editing! Fun! Wow, I really love me some commas. And those over-complicated, never-ending, convoluted sentences! The draft is a mess, and after going through it a first time, I was ready to give up and move on. On the other hand, I had tons of fun rereading it. Which means:
No giving up this time, Jo!
One more day till Nanowrimo.
Tomorrow starts my favorite month of the year, November. The beautiful, terrifying month of novel-writing-frenzy. I’ve failed every single one of my last three attempts at nanowrimo and camp nanowrimo, and yet I am here to try it again. I have too many WIPs as that I should start yet another one, and too little motivation and ideas on top of it. All I have is my basic premise and a cover (because instead of creating an outline or brainstorming plot, I created the second most important thing you need to write a novel: a cover).
I also have the firm resolution to keep this story as free of smut as possible (which means I will allow myself between one and three sex scenes but not a single one more). I haven’t written nearly as much this year as in the years before, and every single story I wrote was erotica and bursting with smut. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I love writing sex, and I’m pretty good at it. But I need to make sure I haven’t unlearned to write anything else. So my nano story is going to be my practice-piece. A story to reconnect with storytelling beyond carnal desire. Continue Reading