I read a lot of YA novels, in part because I can actually finish them, in part because suck me in (some of them, anyway), they’re fun, and they also help me look at my own life, not my teenage life, but my life now. I just discovered a new (to me) author Elizabeth Scott, who has a great publishing-related blog, and the first book I read was Perfect You.
In it, Kate’s miserable because her best friend is now thin, blonde and won’t talk to her, her dad has quit his steady job to sell vitamins at the mall (and roped her and her brother into selling them), her annoying grandmother is interfering with her family, and she likes this boy, Will. It’s not really a problem because he likes her too, except that he has this reputation as a player. She constantly second guesses herself around him, and takes playing hard to get to an extreme, because she’s not playing. She likes him but is so afraid to tell him that she tells him all kinds of other things.
This made me think about how scary it can be to tell someone even something as simple as that you like them, let alone your sexual fantasies. I’ve been on the telling and hearing end of a few of those lately and in each of the situations I was struck with how much we open ourselves up in revealing these really personal sides of us. It’s why something about, say, the Fetlife checklist, or any checklist, really, doesn’t suit me. I don’t have a checklist, I don’t have some set criteria. I don’t know “what I want” with someone until, well, I do, until the moment. I’m going to be deliberately vague because while I’m realizing more and more, I don’t want to be pigeonholed as a “sex writer,” but it is what I do, and probably do best, I can’t unearth every detail of what I’m dealing with. It’s too close, too personal, and too not all about me.
But what I did want to share was how, for me, every time I’m with someone it’s a revelation. I don’t know what’s going to happen, what I’m going to say or think or feel, and I don’t want to. Those revelations are what drove me into writing about sex in the first place, the way what turned me on shocked me, and in some ways, does so even more now because you’d think I’d know what I want, after 16 years of having sex. I do, but it’s constantly changing. I told someone something recently that was almost incongruous; it was definitely not what I planned to say. It’s not that it was so tremendously deep, but it revealed layers to what I’m attracted to about them, about our dynamic, that I didn’t know were there.
Moreso than the response I got, my own response to what I wrote, shook me up. And that’s a good thing. I like learning about what turns me on, and what turns other people on. I like that it’s not all fixed and done and repetitive. It’s new and thriving and exciting and yet, like Kate in the story, sometimes I think it’d be easier to go the safer route. Keep it to myself, pour it into a story, fiction, rather than Go There. Because the more you reveal, the more chances someone has to mess with your head. There was a moment where I almost erased what I’d written. I got scared that the other person would laugh at me or judge me or hate me or be tired of me. I still have those fears. It’s good though, because it reminds me of the cost of revealing our innermost desires, of how sacred they are. And that’s a good reminder to have.