If You Want To
By Jamie Ashbird
Should you write porn?
The answer seems pretty simple really. Yes—if you want to. If you don’t want to, then don’t. Okay, good. We’re done here.
Just kidding, it’s time to ramble.
First off, two things:
- I currently sit in the wibbly-wobbly very complicated spectrum of non sex-repulsed, mentally arousable ace-hood.
- I’m not a person who feels particularly comfortable writing sex scenes.
To address point 1, sure, asexuality doesn’t always lend itself to having wide experience with all things sex. (Also, despite writing m/m relationships, I do not have a penis so that’s not in my experience bucket what with all the throbbing and exploding and whatnot.) But, I am a naturally-curious person, I do get aroused, and I have an imagination.
To address point 2, the discomfort doesn’t come from the acts themselves (I am not sex-repulsed) rather from writerly anxiety, which itself comes from a lack of experience and confidence.
I have asked myself, should I be writing porn if it fills me with feelings of inadequacy?
Well let’s shut that specific question down by generalising it. Should I write beautiful lyrical prose? Should I write with heartfelt sincerity? Should I, perhaps one day, write something with a plot? Attempting to write all of these things makes me feel inadequate to the task because I don’t feel confident in my abilities to do these things well.
So then should I do it? Should I write sincere, lyrical prose? Should I plot something one of these days? Should I write porn?
The answer is yes, I bloody well should—if I want to.
The only way to gain confidence is to practice, to improve and—this is the crucial part—don’t compare yourself to others.
That habit of comparing seems amplified in fandom. Maybe that’s because fandom writing is less a solitary affair and more a dynamic occupation. It’s fast and organic. Dirty, mutable, and boundless. Perhaps most pertinent, everyone is writing their versions of the same things. You see ten different versions of your favourite trope in a day—depending on your fandom. You see thousands of fics with the same characters. It’s hard not to compare and judge yourself. Hard but not impossible, so don’t do it. You’ve been told.
Do I compare my dodgy as hell scribblings of hands to Albrecht Dürer’s hand studies? No. I know that this was his occupation, he drew and painted every day. I do not, but maybe with practice I could be okay. Why look at writing any different? It’s another art form that requires practice.
And when it comes to that confidence and experience in writing what I don’t know? That comes with practice, too. And research. I look to Google and the vast resources of the internet. I look to the writers I admire. I look to my friends and try my stickiest filthiest ideas out on them, see who blushes first (me, I blush thinking them up).
Do I have to write sex into my stories? No, of course not. There are more things in life and love than sex. You can have sensuality and romance without sex. You can have intimacy and a pashing session behind the bike sheds without sex… I seem to have strayed. Anyway, I don’t have to write sex into my stories.
The characters however might have other ideas. They back you into a corner while one of them backs the other toward the bedroom until he feels the mattress against his legs. They fall together (somehow this does not result in a head butt), their limbs entwined (but where is that one’s arm? why is that one’s leg bent that way?) and their lips crash together (ouch)…
Jamie Ashbird draws things that make Atlin giggle like the insane. Jamie wrote a story for Improbable Press' anthology A Murmuring of Bees.