Yahoo, it's time for the much anticipated DeJa Vu blogfest! Hosted by D.L. Hammons, Katie Mills, Lydia Kang, and Nicole Ducleroir. I look forward to reading lots of great posts today. :)
For the fest, I decided to dust off the very first blog post I ever wrote. I still stand by everything I said in it, and I've noticed that the topic of sex in writing comes up a lot in the blogosphere---particularly during Insecure Writer's Group.
So here you have my musings on the matter:
Should I Have Faded to Black?
Originally posted March 6, 2010
My mother read the sexy chapters in my book. She is less than happy.
I s'pose I could end this particular blog right there; I mean, it's no big shock that a mother would have trouble with her daughter writing such a thing, right? But what really bothers me about it is that those few chapters seem to have skewed her overall view of the story. The message that I hoped to convey has been lost amidst her shock and horror at the admittedly graphic depictions.
But it isn't only my mother's reactions that have me bothered. Most readers don't seem to mind those particular chapters one little bit, far from it, and yet I've become concerned that what they'll remember most when it's all said and done is the sex rather than the themes from the book that were my driving force to write it in the first place.
And so I have to ask: was I wrong to include such descriptive scenes? Should I have faded to black? Did I sabotage my own message by distracting readers with sex?
To be fair, the overriding theme of "Three Daves" is sex. But not necessarily the carnal act of it, more like when to have it, when not to have it, who to have it with, who not to have it with, and what are the emotional repercussion of having it? Those are the kinds of things I hope readers will think about. But I guess if I'm being honest with myself, I didn't need to inform the readers of whether or not Jen swallowed to tell those parts of the story. So why did I do it?
Because another goal of mine was to keep "Three Daves" feeling real. And in reality, sexual intimacy doesn't fade to black. Neither does eating a meal, you may argue, nor attending an economics class, and I certainly didn't bore my readers with those details. But the story isn't about fine cuisine or university studies. It's about sex, and so I need the reader to feel it, to understand the emotions and thoughts that pass through the characters when they are having it. I need them to see it as more than just a kiss or a caress. I want the experience engraved on their consciousness so they realize that it isn't something easily forgotten when the lights flick back on. It's real.
This story is also about relationships. And sexual intimacy leaves marks on a relationship, sometimes good, sometimes bad. I want readers to know what the characters said to each other just before, during, and right after. I want them to see which guy kisses her forehead and which one pulls on his boxers and promptly falls asleep. I couldn't depict the whole relationships without depicting those intimate moments that show the very different dynamic between Jen and each of the three Daves.
So that's why I did it, and now you can feel good about yourselves for enjoying those particular scenes so much. ;)