Email: rachelkramerbussel at


Lusty Lady

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Conflict irresolution

I am trying to figure out how to do a jump cut in old Blogger (I was told it can't be done, saw it on another blog, and forgot to bookmark it...anyone?). In lieu of that, I'll just say at the top that if you don't want to read details about my sex life (you know who you are, or should be), please stop reading here.

Okay, so I too was interviewed by Susannah Breslin for Salon. Which this post isn’t really about, but she used the word “conflicted” and I think it would be safe to say that’s pretty much where I’m at these days in terms of sex, and sex writing. And it’s probably because I do care what other people think. Likely I shouldn’t say that here, because it gives someone a means to exploit that, but so be it.

woa!! you are writing books about sex, but ny times reviewed your views about cupcakes and kids...... you are trash, and shouldnt be advertising your raunchy offensive books on a web link where mothers and their daughters will 99% of the time come across this tacky ad. i am glad my 6yr old wasnt looking about cupcake reviews together, otherwise i'd love your explanation of why sexual topics are linked to cupcake website,to my 6 yr old.. you are trash and need to promote your trash somewhere else. i am very offended people as yourself exist.

It’s why emails like this one above, as easy as they are to laugh at, are less easy to shrug off. I’m horrified that someone would think I’m unfit to give comment about kids and cupcakes (and before we even get there, have and love kids of my own) because I write about sex. Yet maybe I play into that as well.

I’ve been trying to separate myself from It, from that whole messy dirty x-rated bare-all body of work, not because it doesn’t represent me, but because on some level it does irk me that people equate “sex writer” with “whore,” or whatever their epithet du jour is. It makes me want to protest that way of thinking, to give more insight. To say, “oh yes, I may have casual sex, but…” There’s always a but, a p.s., a way of trying to prove that really I’m a “nice girl.”

And yet I know that the people who want to get that will get it, and those who don’t, won’t. I know that and yet I still make the mistake of trying to explain to the haters (okay, not to the hate mailers though). For me, no, it’s not enough to know who I am and be all proud and strong…by myself.

I have written about and will write about being kinky. I’m not ashamed of that. At the same time, in my free time, I’d infinitely rather go to a barbecue than a BDSM conference over July 4th weekend. I’m not saying one is better than the other, but for me, I realized after Dark Odyssey that it’s not really my scene. I’ll always be an observer looking in and I hate the idea that because of It, people will assume…anything, really.

I’m thinking about all this in part because there are a lot of people from my past who are, well, still around. It confuses me sometimes because I don’t know where they fit in, or rather, I know perfectly well but there’s no word for it. There’s no word for someone who’s not an ex but was always way more than just a hot fuck in a hotel room. I don't know if I want there to be a word, other than friend, I guess, and maybe it's my job as a writer to figure out how to explain what I feel for this one person I'm gonna see tomorrow. It's a funny friendship because it was built on sex but was always about more than sex. I had forgotten we went to BEA together. That was like another lifetime ago even though it wasn't really all that long ago

In a way, the cold hard facts of sex are easier to write about. They happened, and I'm not shy about the details. Or, I wasn't. But the emotions are messier, trickier, less easy to explain. There's jealousy threaded in with awe and respect and self-doubt. It's easier to stick to the dirty parts but I don't want to stay with the easy all the time. I am finding myself writing these dark stories lately, these cocky men who want something more than sexual gratification. They want to fuck the women in my stories until they change something fundamental about them. They want the mindfuck even more than the physical one. And I wonder where I, stepping away from the story, fit in. Do I want to be changed or do I want to stay in my own world where it's safe but...lonely. I'm not sure, because once someone comes in and steals/borrows/tampers with my heart, they have part of it and I can't get it back. They will have that part of it I want to call a corner, though I don't think hearts have corners. I don't know yet how to write or talk or think about that, about the maybe stupid things I do for love, where I don't know if I'm making the right decisions but don't always want to know. I'd rather leap and not look because I know I'll probably make that same choice again. That kind of love can be selfish, I'm realizing, can be greedy. See? Way more complex than someone coming all over my tits in some hotel room.

I’m conflicted not because I don’t love being a writer, and I wouldn’t do the kinds of work I do if I didn’t want to on some level, but because I do know that it makes it harder to be in the “dating marketplace,” shall we say. It kindof sucks to have it all out there and googleable, where you can’t just tack on a “Oh, p.s., that guy I gave a handjob to at the airport that time? Is actually this very sweet dad who calls me from Costa Rica.” It’s hard to explain how there are these romantic threads woven into even my sluttiest actions. And I hate the part of me that even has to go there, to try to defend it. Because I’d love to be like Lena and say “who cares?” but I always come back to me. I care.

I am slowly, stubbornly, reluctantly coming to terms with the fact that not only can’t I disown my writing past, but I shouldn’t have to. I’m the one making my view of myself into this either/or sex writer vs. baby mama dichotomy. Of course I know they can coexist. It’s not like I read that hate mail and think, “Wow, she’s right, I should never even glance at any children.” But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

I want to go back to a place where I can write more openly about my feelings, about what’s going on, but there are other considerations. I think the charges of narcissism against Emily Gould in part stem from the conundrum that if we’re going to tell a story, we can’t tell someone else’s side of it. We can only tell ours. And by doing so, of course we’re going to come across as “narcissistic.” I’m working on something I want to send to Modern Love and I’m wary because part of it is not my story to tell, but part of it is, and the Venn diagram of those parts gets murky. But I will try, if only to puzzle it out for myself, to make it make some kind of sense I can’t see unless I write it down.

In the meantime I’ll be daydreaming about the baby in sunglasses I saw today who just looked like such a rock star and I don’t know whether these baby sightings are good or bad because they make it just that much worse. Maybe I can get a fake baby in the interim.

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At May 28, 2008, Blogger Alexis said...

I share a lot of your feelings (well, except the baby fever part). I guess I would want you to ask yourself if you're proud of your body of work, especially when you're having these feelings of conflict. If your work is fulfilling, then there's no reason you can't reconcile that with the other areas of your life- you are the sum of your parts, and everybody loves you for it. The fact that you have these feelings means that you're a conscientious, aware and sensing person. This is not a flaw, even though it may seem like one at times. I'm glad you have a conscience and emotions at a time when these seem to be humankind's fleeting qualities.

At May 28, 2008, Anonymous mike in Albany said...

Listen, Rach...never mind the haters. If what you do feels right to you, then represent it fearlessly. Nobody ever made a difference in this world by caving in to dull conformity. Look at the President of the US: no matter who he (or she) is or which party she (or he) is from, half the country absolutely hates him (or her) and everything that she (or he) tries to do. The opposition comes with such vehement vindictiveness, such nastiness, that you wonder how anyone could get out of bed. Yet, there he is cheerfully greeting reporters in the rose garden with nary a care. You can't let people get to you. You are an artist. Good art challenges people to go beyond themselves, to make them think, feel, and react. Your art is prose writing. Some of what you write about is sex. There will always be people who don't like that subject no matter what. There will always be people who do like that subject. Those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter.

At May 28, 2008, Blogger Kristina Wright said...

Gosh, Rachel, I'm sorry you had to read such an awful, hateful letter (and why is it the hate mailers are always deficient in the spelling and grammar department?). I shake my head in amazement at the things people feel comfortable writing (anonymity seems to make them so much more vicious than they would be to your face) in the name of so-called morality. As if calling a total stranger "trash" is perfectly acceptable while writing about sex is not. Hypocrisy at it's finest.

I have no answers, I just wanted to offer my support. I'm in the baby fever boat, as well, and have received more than one ominous warning that I will someday wish I had used a pseudonym instead of my real name. Sigh.

Hang in there.

At May 30, 2008, Anonymous Sue Katz said...

The honesty with which you write brings a lot of clarity to a really complex subject. As another writer dealing in sex and kink (and ageing, in my case), it's so helpful to hear how you're grappling with these questions of exposure and revelation.

And while I'm here, let me praise you for the way in which you so generously include other people and their talents in your postings. You give blogging a good name!

At June 02, 2008, Blogger Jolie said...

Does anyone old read your blog except for me on occassion? LOL When you're in your 40's you won't care what other people think. Plus, you'll know who you are.

Jolie du Pre
(Happy she's not in her 30's anymore, except for no longer having a 30 year old body. (That's why she's getting plastic surgery. Also, I would go to Dark Odyssey if I had the time, but then again I also garden. I do what I want with no apologies to the prudes.)


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