Ermahgerd! Serx!

I read this article about sex in fiction this morning (via The Passive Guy) in which author Julian Barnes is quoted as saying:

“Writing about sex contains an additional anxiety on top of all the usual ones that the writer might be giving him- or herself away, that readers may conclude, when you describe a sexual act, that it must already have happened to you in pretty much the manner described.”

I know he’s not alone, because I’ve heard other writers say similar things. I’m probably a freak of nature, but writing sex scenes doesn’t affect me this way. I assume that my readers assume – because my author bio broadcasts the fact that I’m an adult, married woman with children – that I have had sex. Similarly, I assume – because statistics and human nature have thus informed me – that the majority of them have had sex as well. If, after reading some of the steamier parts of Waiting For Spring, my readers conclude that what’s written there must already have happened to me in pretty much the manner described, so what? Should that make me ashamed? Chances are it’s happened to them in pretty much the manner described, too…and high five! Good for us! I’m much more concerned that my readers may conclude that I, like Tess, had once been an accessory to murder or discover that I, too, sometimes shop at Walmart.

I think we, as a society, might need to reexamine our priorities and, maybe, grow up a little.


About R.J. Keller

R. J. Keller is the author of Waiting For Spring. An avid independent movie enthusiast, she was Managing Editor of The Movie Fanatic website and created episodes of the writer-centric YouTube series, Inside The Writers' Studio, with author Kristen Tsetsi. She co-hosted Book Chatter with Stacey Cochran from 2011-2014. She lives in Central Maine with her family, where she enjoys gardening, collecting geeky memorabilia, and watching other people cook. View all posts by R.J. Keller

8 responses to “Ermahgerd! Serx!

  • Dave

    You shop at Walmart?! Egads woman!

  • R.J. Keller

    You don’t know how difficult that admission was for me to make.

  • kristentsetsi

    You didn’t actually admit it until just now in the comments. I would advise against making the same kind of inadvertent admission regarding any reader assumptions of your participation in a murder. (However, prison would give you a) tons of time to write, and b) tons more material! Why, it’s almost tempting…)

  • Todd Card

    One must realize that writers, although mostly composed from personal experiences and the need to create with the use of words, are not necessarily the creations they yield. I have experienced the guilt of my words but realized that they are inevitably divergent (in most cases) to who I am as a person. I worked through it and moved on. Sometimes this phase is more difficult for some than others, but a writer should never feel compelled to assume the weight of their creativity as judgement from their readers. Literature is art. Sex is art. Literature, and sex alike, are natural to the state of the human condition… but do not convict us for the exploration of either or both. If a writer falls victim to the weight of their own words, then I feel for them… because I have been there. But, I moved past it. Words carry weight — if we let them. Just my opinion.

  • Moriah Jovan (@MoriahJovan)

    Clearly the original sentiment was expressed by someone who does not write or read romance.

    But if we’re talking about some of those literary horrific sexual gaffes gems from men attempting to write sex, then yes, I can see how they might be writing from experience.

  • darcyj76

    I only just discovered that I have followers on my blog (like, 5!!) and that you are one of them, and I came to your blog and now I can’t stop reading! The title of this one made me laugh really hard! Now POST MORE! 😉

  • debra colby

    Sex…love it….want it….how come I’m not having it???? There’s a story all in itself.

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