Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Erotic fiction - I can do better

One of the things that can sustain you as an artist is the piece of advice that everybody is the best artist somebody knows. Due to the rarity of kids persisting with art beyond childhood, (Gladwell did this great talk at Google about finishing degrees, it'd be interesting to see if the top 5% or bust explains why so many kids stop enjoying art or drawing etc.) No matter what stage of my development I've been at, I come across people who think I have an amazing skill, even though I'm more inclined to compare myself to the extremes - world leading artists - than the average (most people don't draw at all)

But one such world renowned comic artist, Chris Visions, did a mother's day tribute to of all people, his mother. And he related an anecdote absent from my own life experience, about an art assignment he knocked over and showed to his mum who said 'you can do better'. This was a loving tribute to, not the testimony of a tortured soul that could never live up to his mother's impossible standards. The anecdote had him go back and try the assignment 4 more times or something until his mother recognized a work that reflected what he was capable of.

I never had that, and a lot of artists don't. Not just encouragement, but encouragement to reach our best.

I'm aware of an irony that I write about such a practice on my blog, where I have often defended my appalling grammar and spellchecking with my policy of 'if I actually edited my own posts I wouldn't write them at all' and that remains true, even for this post.

But it isn't for my foray into writing erotic fiction. A love letter in fact. Because a) I have discovered it is really difficult. I still can't bring myself to go back and read 'Spank Bank' my second art project that was a zine with illustrated pinups of the fantasy girls I masturbated to along with the journal entries of the actual sessions, because I recall them to be very matter of fact descriptions of what went down, very artless, very dead prose, and still confronting for me to read as author to this day (although I don't even try to read them) and wanting to craft a passage of writing about physical intimacy that is sensual and titillating without being grotesquely visceral is proving extremely difficult. A highwire act for me, and I've never really practiced it.

But b) there's no urgency, and this is new for me. I will simply keep drafting it until it is right, until it works. Until it is a peerless letter. Then and only then will I contemplate sending it.

It's a revelation to work this way, I don't know how many times I have got into my head that something needs to be said, and put into words and I do, I write an email and whether it takes me half a day or 30 seconds, the moment I can claim it to be done, I hit send. It is only then that I get the tingling sensation on top of my head that tells me it was a good idea, or the sinking feeling in my torso that tells me it was a mistake and I'll just have to brace for the consequences.

This exercise of trying to write a sensual erotic letter means I can produce that letter that is a terrible, idiotic idea to send, to have read by anyone. I can produce 10-20-30-40 failures and it doesn't matter, because in that process I need to find what's right. And I can, through that process.

Maybe not so exciting to you, but a profound change for me.

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