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Friday, 8 March 2013

Erin McKechnie is Writing about Sex

I must confess right now, I am a beginner – not about sex, but about writing about it. So I’m not intending to sound like an expert – about sex, I mean, not writing about it, either.
I’ve written one and a half books before my present enterprise; one about a virginal teenager, who, if he ever had any impure thoughts, certainly didn’t disclose them to me as he floated in my head while we worked our way through his imaginary spiritual crises. The other is about an abused woman, so although there is some sex, it’s not the sort I want to write about now.
Presently I am writing a love story, which for me means there must be at least a little sex. I want to write about wonderful enriching sex during which the participants shed all inhibitions and are filled with joy and well being. But what a difficult thing it is to do. For a start, in my other books it is apparent to everyone that I am neither a sixteen year old boy, or an abused woman, and so no one will ever read those books and speculate on how much of what I’ve written is based on personal experience. But if I write any steamy scenes into my love story, everyone is going to look at me speculatively;  that is – if they don’t ask outright if I’ve ever done those things. And what would I say to my mother if she was still here? I know she knew I knew, but should I be writing things I couldn’t show my mother?
Sex is just about the most important thing on the planet, it’s the natural culmination of love (or lust) between any mating couple. Birds and bees and animals and humans all do it and yet, it is the thing we stutter and stammer and use euphemisms about more than anything else.  My writing friends manage their sex scenes with an amazing collection of obfuscations ranging from simply not acknowledging anything took place except when the imminent arrival of a baby is announced, to ‘he closed the door with a soft click’.
Writers write with elegance and grace about all manner of things, with passion and dramatic effect about others, but it’s difficult to even find alternatives to sexual language in the thesaurus on my computer.  In the books I’ve read (for research purposes only) male writers seem to write their sex scenes with blunt accuracy and little finesse, and women write a great deal about the decor or the sunset and not a lot else.  I’ve even checked out the 50 Shades phenomena  (to be honest I only got up to about six, couldn’t stand the heat). 
So here I am, holding in one hand the thought that sex is natural, wonderful and fun, and in the other the puritanical overlay that inhibits writing freely.  But I will do it - it will create an intimacy my readers may not be at ease with, but I know they know. There will be no reason to blush.


  1. Editor's Note - I almost titled this post "Writing about Sex with Erin McKechnie" but a timely cup of coffee opened my eyes to the pitfall I was about to tumble into! Great post, Erin. We all struggle to describe those joyous intimacies without sounding like letters to Penthouse or weird botanical references.

  2. Being one of Erin's writing group I can only say I'm looking forward to her reading those particular passages. I guess I'm one of those writers who "click the door closed" but did have the courage in "Rusty and Slasher's Guide to Crime" to write about Rusty's premature ejaculation when "... to his utter horror he feels Mr Jolly rising to the occasion." and then "...and with that Rusty's cup of joy runneth over." Not to sure how many readers caught on but maybe in the next Rusty book I'll be a bit more courageous. Thanks to Erin.