Most of my writing ideas are inspired by a sensation, or an experience, which often I write down quickly in the form of a vignette, and then go back later to think about themes to develop, or characters and plot. Some I never return to, and they form a lovely little quilt of bizarre thoughts and notions, which hopefully I save and accumulate until they, in their totality, prove worthy of some sort of use.
I could talk about the inspiration for this story, "It Had Better Hurt... or What's the Point?" because I clearly remember it, but the idea was the ending, and I don't want to give it away.
Instead, I'll talk about developing some of the themes.
Pain has always been very interesting to me, especially pain in the context of pleasure--so accordingly, sex. There are also volumes and volumes about this topic, so I'll spare you the theory and the metaphysics.
I wanted to write about pain and sex, but not from the purely metaphysical side, like Freud, and not simply from the vague "thrill" of writing about something deemed by some people to be explicit, like Sade, or countless others. In fact, I wanted to keep arousal as far away from the writing as possible--clearly that in itself can be a very fun game, but I don't really have the need to share my sexuality with the world (most of the time).
I've tried to approach this subject and failed, several times. These attempts should probably be destroyed, to save someone the grief of ever accidentally stumbling upon them, but I can't do things like that, and I won't. But all the same, I didn't have anything written I felt good about.
Approaching this story with a character who is quite young and who's inexperience is manifested in excitement seemed to be the key for me. I love how teenagers will babble incessantly about sex--they say some really funny things if you listen to them. Once you grow older you either stop talking about sex, or always talk about it in the same ways. You learn a vocabulary, and you learn phrases, and you learn ways of enunciating and stepping around the actual description, "....you know what I mean?" If you ever are so lucky to happen to overhear a fifteen or sixteen year-old first using the word, "cunt" to actually, qualitatively describe the female genitals, try and remember it, because it is truly a beautiful thing. Not because of the sexual content, but precisely because of the lack of it. S/he is testing out the word, fitting it between the thought and the lips (the verbal lips, jerk) for the first time, to see it it works correctly. Like watching someone first pick up a tool and make something correctly. The experience is even better for the speaker, but of course you don't realize it at the time. It's somewhat like having sex for the first time, not actual coitus, which is polluted with a thousand social connotations of very little use, but more like the first experience of oral sex, or manual sex--like a small fragment broken off, the ache of a splinter in the skin, something that sticks with you for the rest of the day, or even the week. Do you remember the first time you ever talked dirty in bed? You might remember that. A whole different sort of rush than having sex, a certain, "those words are coming out of my mouth!" and getting used to how it sounds.
I couldn't use the word "cunt" in the story--that was too explicitly what I was going for, and besides, it would be me using the word, no matter how I tried to write it, and not the character. But the character could say a ton of other things, awkward, teenage, overly-excited things, rushing out of his lips before he thought about them, and each one warming his face with the glow of stolen liquor. That sort of sexuality has a power to it because it is limited by time--and no one can hold onto it forever. You can tell he's is rushing back to his room, because no matter how sure he convinces himself that he is, she might not be there when he gets back.
It's this sort of ebullient, quiet panic I was trying to develop--the sort of nervous tension that can drown inhibitions as well or better than the warm beer you are probably drinking out of the can. The body's own pushing upward, a welling intensity, causing the the teeth to bite on the lip or neck so the hips can feel the spasm, caught against bone and muscle, like two young bodies enveloped in the tight dance of two people who are so obvious going to get it on, sucking so much face that you wish they would just go do it already, because it is a painful memory to those who have moved on, already gone and bought the beer so many times that now we buy it at the grocery store, because our sexuality has moved on to a different stage, like a butterfly looking at a cocoon with slight disgust at it's crusty, unflying sheen.
Some people have moved on from this stage--but then again, there are some people who never get there. The ending of the story has a thousand different parables and messages within it. But after all, that is the point, now isn't it?
Stay tuned for the last post, an author's note on the novella which is newly available, just like the short stories, from www.brutepress.com.
Predictions for 2012
5 years ago