Pic from the Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck – click the image to view on Amazon.
Sex can be hard to define if you look at it deeply. I first became aware of this thanks to Greta Christina’s wonderful post “Are We Having Sex Now or What?” in which Christina elegantly shows us that what is sex for one person might not be for the next. I have a theory that one reason sex seems so easy to shame in our society is because many of us have a twisted idea of what it is — and what it “should” be.
So what would a building do if it was sexual?
It’s an honest question and I’ve been thinking about it a lot. In Maddie Aflame!, my forthcoming erotic fantasy series, a group of polyamorous, queer British teenagers are swallowed by a mysterious mansion that turns out to be conscious and alive, and capable of creation. It transpires that the Mansion is being used to cruelly research and control queer folks in a society where queerness is illegal. But as the friends soon find out, the Mansion can be communicated with from within — more with feelings than words.
“I finally decided to release the erotica for publication because it shows the beginning efforts of a woman in a world that had been the domain of men.” –Anaïs Nin in her preface to Delta of Venus
When I first read Delta of Venus, I didn’t read the preface. That’s why I had envisioned Anaïs Nin as a brazen rebel with no shyness, no fear. I was stereotyping of course, because it helped me to deal with all the feelings of shame that I held all those years ago, especially around sex — in a way, I needed to think of Anaïs Nin as fearless. Years later, however, I’d realize that she first wrote her stories for just a dollar a page, and believed that by getting her to “leave out the poetry” her client was really stripping her work of her true woman’s language.
This post is part of the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest run by the delightful and talented August McGlaughlin. Check out the official blogfest page to read other posts and enter to win some fabulous prizes. Picture credit: “Watercolor beautiful girl. Vector illustration of woman beauty salon.”
Why do I wear a mustache during sex? Because I’m playing with gender. Because I’m being me. And because I’m also being Steve-O Bing.
When my partner Jacob came out as transgender last year, I didn’t realize how deeply it would affect my own identity — I was simply too focused on helping him live his truth. But my own gender identity started to shift, and it continues to do so. As our therapist so wisely told us, “Coming out as trans can queer the whole family.”
“If you’re negative, you’re going to find causes for negativity. You will yourself build a case. Because we’re very clever. We’re much cleverer than we think we are. We build cases for our own moods. If you are convinced that you can’t make it, and you want to drop out, you’re going to find reasons for it. You can always build a case. There are all kinds of things lying around. But if you want to build a case for life being worth living then you build that too.” —Anaïs Nin in ‘The Artist as Magician’ (A Woman Speaks)
As I keep writing about Maddie, the hero of Maddie Aflame, I remember all those who helped inspire her. Today: thank you, Rumi for the beautiful words above. And here’s a sensual snippet from Maddie Aflame, when flames really are being fanned:
While I licked Aud’s right nipple, making her moan as it stiffened, I held her left breast in my hand, which was now only slightly sore and pink from yesterday’s flames. Her cool skin soothed my palm, and feeling the weight of that smooth, taut flesh was enough to make me throb between my thighs.
The more Anaïs Nin fans I meet, the more I realize that hoards of us have been saved by her writings. For me, both Delta of Venus and Incest were my saviors, both in different ways. As an incest survivor, I grew into a woman who was brimming with darkly erotic stories about incestuous affairs, but believed those inspirations to be a sign of my deep sins — proof that if there was a Hell, I was probably going there.
The fifth in a series of fire-themed posts about passion, illness, identity, and adventure, in celebration of the forthcoming erotic novel series, MADDIE AFLAME! You can find the first post here and other Maddie Aflame! posts here.
Fire burns us and inspires us. Fire can kill us, but also cleanse us. When I think of fiery pain, I remember the stuff that makes us yell or double up. When I think about fiery sex, I dream of sex that is passionate and brave. But what if the fire we felt during pain and passion was accompanied by real flames?
“I’m hellishly lonely. What I need is someone who could give me what I give Henry: this constant attentiveness. I read every page he writes, I follow up his reading, I answer his letters, I listen to him, I remember all he says, I write about him, I make him gifts, I protect him, I am ready at any moment to give up anybody for him, I follow his thoughts, enter into his plans — passionate, maternal, intellectual watchfulness.
“He. He cannot do this. Nobody can. Nobody knows how. It is an art, a gift.”
–Anaïs Nin in Incest: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin 1932 – 1934
Isn’t this just the way with those of us who give, give, give? I feel like I’ve spent my life working on boundaries — figuring out when to give with glorious commitment and when to say no, when to stop and look after myself. There are many great books about learning to say no, but one thing I’ve rarely been told is that giving is an art.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” –Anaïs Nin in Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin 1939-1947, ed. Paul Herron
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given its popularity, I came across this quotation fairly early after my discovery of Anaïs and her writings. What I didn’t realize was that this beautiful line from her diary was crafted when she was looking at her life candidly and taking responsibility for difficult emotions. “I have created the isolation in which I find myself,” she writes in Mirages. “Life shrinks in proportion to one’s courage.” (As Paul Herron says, those were the original words Anaïs wrote in her diary. She edited them later, adding in “or expands.”)
I think Anais gives us a wonderful lesson here, as always: When we feel down or lost, that’s often when we can most deeply learn about our emotions. If we can see what got us to a dark place, painful though such vision can be, we can start to refuse the darkness.
We can expand.