Here are some of the brilliant things I have read this past week, my recommendations to you.
This interview with Esmé Weijun Wang totally blew me away. So much in there about language, interracial relationships, mental illness. Really worth a read.
“I chose to use English as well as Chinese in two ways: Chinese characters and pinyin, which is the romanization. There is some Taiwanese, but it’s mostly Chinese characters and pinyin. Part of my thought process in using the two has to do with levels of opacity. With the Chinese characters—the pictograms—there’s basically nothing you can do there if you don’t know Chinese. It’s unlike something like Junot Díaz’s work, where he uses Dominican Spanish without translation and you can at least type it into Google Translate and get a very basic understanding. With Chinese characters, there’s nothing you can do to get that translation, and so there are parts of my book where, unless you’re “in,” you’re not going to understand what the character is saying. And I did that deliberately.
You mentioned the blank spaces—the blank spaces are the correlation to that. Daisy Nowak, the Taiwanese main character, often uses the blank spaces to depict parts of conversation in English that she doesn’t understand. And I wanted there to be times when Daisy got to be the insider, where her use of language takes a primary stance. That’s when I used the Chinese characters. I actually came up with a number of rules for using the Chinese characters, versus pinyin, versus English. One of those rules was that I would use Chinese characters if she was speaking to another character who also spoke Chinese, and only if that particular portion of speech were about something the two of them shared in a very close-knit cultural space.”
Forge Forward’s self help guide to healing and understanding for trans survivors of sexual violence. (downloadable PDF)
Brandon Taylor on fem-shaming and gender tropes in M/M romance.
“But before the proclamation of love, Cityboy has to endure a string of homophobic and misogynistic diatribe from the town and even maybe from the Lumberjack himself. There may even be a direct plea from Lumberjack (after they fuck, mind you) for the Cityboy to straighten up his walk and maybe be a bit manlier. Lumberjack will often marvel to himself at how beautiful Cityboy is but still not understand how he can love a man so soft.”
Ella Dawson, on STI’s not being a consequence.
“I also started to hear something else, something I liked a lot less. And I hear it on a daily basis. I hear it from my coworkers, from my friends, from really hot guys in bars, which is that I am so brave. I am so brave. ‘Ella, what you are doing is just so brave.’ And the thing is, when you tell someone that they are brave, you are recognizing really hard work that they’re doing. You are giving them that validation and that respect for the risk that they are taking. But you’re also telling them something else, which is that you think what they are doing is unthinkable. That you yourself could never do that. It turns me into this weird superhero. And the fact is, that is not what I want.
Because in the world that I want, and in the world that I’m hoping all of you help me build, telling someone that you have an STI should not be brave or shocking. It should be normal, and kind of boring.”
Charlie Glickman’s post on consent accidents vs. consent violations has some useful stuff in it. Writers, I would love to read more stories with consent accidents in them, so I urge you to take a look.
“A consent violation happens when someone chooses to ignore or cross someone’s boundaries. People do that for a lot of reasons, including selfishness, arrogance, not caring about their partner, getting off on harming someone (which is distinct from the consensual experience of BDSM), or being somewhere else on the douchebag-rapist spectrum.
Consent accidents, however, are different because they happen because of error, miscommunication, misunderstanding, or not having all the information. That doesn’t make it less painful. If you step on my toes, it hurts whether it was an accident or on purpose. But how I approach the situation and what we do to resolve it might look very different.”
Dahlia Adler has this great storify with tips for author websites. Worth taking a look, folks.
This interview with Heidi Heilig that focuses on representation of mental illness in her novel, The Girl From Everywhere.
“I’ve never felt an obligation or a responsibility to include mental illness in my writing, possibly because I avoid responsibility and obligation wherever I can. But being bipolar, the disorder has shaped my life so fully that Slate’s entire personality came very easily to the page. Of all the characters I’ve written so far, he is the one who most closely resembles me.”
Larissa Pham on selfies, mirrors, and masturbation
“When I started taking dirty pictures I quickly learned that nudes taken without the front facing camera were disastrous. To take an arousing photograph I needed to be both object and witness, desire’s body of evidence. I had to know how it looked as I was enacting it. How I could be golden, lush.”
Lime Jello on why you should not study sex workers.
“How do you repay this help that we are giving you? You make your research matter to us. Since just doing the research doesn’t help anyone but you, you need to do some extra work to make it useful to us. A direct benefit to sex workers is the necessary condition of doing research on sex work. Period.”
I really appreciate Lyric Seal’s sex advice column at Crash Pad. This most recent one covers questions about demisexuality, relationship with genitals, and staying in the moment during sex.
I wrote at the Erotica Readers and Writers Blog about how erotica about group sex often centers couples and assumes that jealousy and conflict are inevitable, and other options for writing group sex.
“I really think it’s worth exploring group sex stories that don’t have this built-in assumption of competition, jealousy, threat, and interpersonal conflict. When I read stories that are rooted in these things, they frequently feel boring, depressing, stuck, and flat. I am not rooting for the couple or finding the group sex hot, I’m mostly just sad for everyone involved. I vastly prefer stories that center openness, abundance of possibilities, collaboration, exploration of internal struggle. I experience those stories as full of hope and possibility, and infinitely hotter. I encourage you to consider possibilities outside this box that our genre is so often in, even just as an experiment in pushing your own thinking and practice as an erotica writer.”