I love to write but avoid writing sexual scenes and although I’ve some comedic ideas, I’ve yet to pen them. Why? As I begin to write this blog I confess I’m not sure but hope build within that by blog’s end we’ll both understand my phobias better.
If you’ve ever sat with a friend and poked fun at a horrible movie, you’ve stumbled upon the concept that kept Mystery Science Theater alive for a while. Bad movies, especially horror and sci-fi, can turn into comedy. I’m talking to you, Sharktopus.
Comedy done wrong makes my stomach turn. A genuine response to comedy done well is immediate and difficult to fake. Only in a comedy club, with the help of a witty heckler, have I enjoyed bad comedy. But to have a joke go bad, especially one I’ve invested any effort in, makes me want to shrink back in time to the moment I imagined myself telling it and slap myself in the face. It’s like those kids I knew growing up, they holler for everyone to watch them jump their bike or swing off a rope into the lake. One misstep and the coveted spotlight only magnifies the embarrassing moment. In the proper setting, surrounded by folks that know me, I’m willing to take that risk and I feel up to the challenge. But the written word and water cooler humor are miles apart and I’m unsure what it’ll take for me to jump that gap.
My second writing hurdle I’m reluctant to even mention, but if I never address it I’ll never fully grasp why it vexes me so.
When I write action scenes I delve into each move and counter move of the combatants. For me it mirrors the comic books I grew up with; you go panel by panel and the action unfolds. And yet writing sexual scenes seems so much more voyeuristic and makes me feel uncomfortable even though I’ve personally had more sex than fisticuffs.
Writing compresses uneventful or mundane time while it expands those scenes most emotionally charged. Unlike movies, the details leap from the page, into the reader’s imagination, and the two meld into an experience unique for each reader. I had a beta reader come up to me once, very excited about introducing me to a friend of theirs. We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. As my friend and I walked away, he looked to me anxiously.
“Doesn’t she look like your character, Prinda?”
“Not to me she doesn’t.”
He frowned, amazed we could be reading the same pages and yet not seeing the same woman. Our differences in perceived beauty put our expectations in different spheres. Could my personal experiences in this realm cause me to create a scene compelling only to myself? Will what I write seem weird to people who until that moment considered me part of the ‘normal’ team. I’m not an action hero, nor a sinister villain; and yet as I consider writing sexual scenes I may not condone of or conduct myself, I feel very personally responsible for what I’ve considered to write.
Maybe that’s the crux of my problem; maybe it’s so easy to distance myself from murder, conspiracy, and the like, that I don’t consider any of it as a reflection on my own morals. Maybe when I consider sexual scenes I feel like I’ll embarrass my family and friends, and get a handful of referrals to therapists for my perceived fixations.
Why this cathartic debate now? The easy answer is this; I’ve got two projects, one comical and the other closely tied to sexual tension, which I’ve put off for years. Comedy I can put off forever and not feel too bad, but the other I felt might actually serve a purpose bigger than my phobias warrant keeping locked up.
So now that I’m a whole lot creepier than you might’ve thought before, I’ll slink off into my hermit’s cave and reconsider the benefits of standing in the sunlight.