First, I must thank Sarah Martinez (www.mywildskies.com) for bringing her inspiring Writing Naked class to Bellingham. After two nights with this lovely brilliant woman and five other students, coincidentally all female, I have some fresh directions for my writing, and some unexpected insights about myself. We did many free-writing exercises, from which I learned that I am not as uninhibited as I like to think I am. “Free-writing,” for those unacquainted with this practice often used in writing classes, is a timed interval of writing whatever comes into one’s head, beginning with a “prompt,” usually an unfinished sentence. No stopping, no editing, just let the thoughts flow freely.
Examples of prompts might be “The love of my life is…” or “The way I feel when I smoke pot is…” or “When I masturbate, I start by…” To be clear, Sarah didn’t use those prompts in our class, but writing five minutes, launched from any of those half sentences could be fascinating exercises for me, for some other day. Instead, focused on breaking through sexual self-censorship, the class prompts contained specific physical images, with the intent of building up visceral intensity.
“Naked and sweaty, his skin glistened, and she wanted…” Wanted what? It’s been years now since I’ve seen any naked sweaty man skin, and I’m not sure I wouldn’t want to just offer the guy a towel. But I reached for a character and gave her a hungry tasting biting eat-him-up reaction. Gave him some hairiness, muscles, strength, and had her surrender to some salt-thick laughing lust. The five minutes went pretty fast.
Sarah had samples of readings for us, ranging from literature to erotica to porn, explaining the differences with excellent examples. Our temporary group of trusting friends cringed a bit here and there, as we heard, wrote, and spoke the language of sex, but we worked our way through, getting gradually more comfortable with those words. None intrinsically bad, or good. Some funny, some clumsy, some elegant and some just plain fuck talking. Like you were there.
I made a journal list: “scary things to write about.” Body image blindness. Grief-craziness. In this class, I was brave, saying out-loud my one hardest word, the one that makes me most crazy, most afraid. That personal lust bomb is… well, there’s another prompt for some other day. “Coming out” on the cloud-web isn’t where I’m at, yet, if ever. As my closest true friends know, this is a tender area for me. Readers of the Rain Shine Secrets manuscript know Libby’s blue secrets. Meanwhile, my Oh, Henry! readers know I don’t mind flaunting some conventionally juicy body part words. I practice exciting phrases in personal letters, just for fun. In these blogs, I’ve felt brave, baring my private life, but now I remember: naming something is not describing it. My softest nitty-gritty truths are sleeping, dreaming details, courting courage.
I had 29 lovers before I turned 30… I smoke marijuana… I masturbate… lovely prompts, for grittier writing, some other day.