What to do about sex? Well, personally, I am all for it. But how about in literature? Of course we all know about the English woman who made a fortune with her “Gray Shades” books and now a movie. (No, don’t ask me how they will make a movie of it.) I am told by those who read it, that the series was pretty much bare-assed pornography. What surprised me was that your everyday housewife wanted to read pornography. And that had to be the case because thousands of books were sold, and the huge majority of buyers were women. That was a revelation to me, and perhaps one that I could have gone without knowing. Have the times and the mores just passed me by while I was not paying attention? What is equally surprising is that a publisher would accept such a manuscript. I would bet my life that any publisher would have thrown it in the slush pile, if it had been submitted by a man.
As a writer who has had some experience over the years writing everything, I can tell you that writing pornography is the most mind-numbing exercise you will ever attempt. How many different ways can you describe copulating? I remember reading an autobiography of one of the famous authors of the “French” period. That would be in the 20s and 30s, and to make a living she wrote pornography for one particular customer. Try as she could to involve some “story” into her writing, the customer just wanted her to skip “all that nonsense” and describe the sex act. As I said, how many times can you do that and, if you are a truly creative writer, not go out of your mind? It drove her nuts and she had to find some other way to pay the bills while she wrote what she really wanted to write.
So how do I handle sex in my writing? I guess I am old fashioned but I prefer to “imply” sex than to describe some physical coupling. I still believe that a reader’s imagination is the most powerful force when it comes to a story. For instance, it is (in my opinion) much better to describe a woman’s voice and the fluttering of her skirt, unbuttoning of a button, and the anticipation of the man in his heartbeat and breathlessness – than to say “The two people fucked.”
Some neophyte writers feel that they have to spell out everything for the reader. Give your readers some credit for having an imagination and give them just enough to energize that most powerful of emotions. That of sexual attraction.