Monday, July 16, 2007

Occupational Hazards

by Gwen Masters

I love being a writer – as if you hadn’t guessed. And I love writing erotica. I especially love writing the naughtiest stuff I can come up with, the fantasies that push the boundaries. As one of the sometimes amusing sidelines to the job, readers are always asking me if I think about sex all the time. If I get horny when I’m writing a short story. If my man reaps the benefits of my workday. Things like that.

Ummmm...well, in short: Yes.

But there are other considerations, too – sometimes the occupational hazards of being a writer pile up to make life even more interesting than the stuff on paper.

I cannot walk through the Williams-Sonoma store without thinking of what can do double-duty in the bedroom. That spatula would leave interesting red marks on a nice, rounded buttock – or that wire whisk! What devious things could we do with that?

The hardware store has the same kind of appeal. I love a good wrench set just as much as the next tool-head chick, but what I love most are the crazy things I think of to do with that nice drill set. Or that set of so aptly-named screwdrivers...for someone into BDSM, it's a veritable treasure trove.

If you want a good sex toy, remember those two words: Hardware Store.

I watch a television show and within minutes I’m thinking up ways to incorporate sex into the storyline. Movies? Same deal. Was the sex necessary to the plot? Yes? Then what could have made it better? What would happen if he had slept with that character instead of the other one? And by the end of the movie I’m off in my own world, making my own ending, and damned if I can tell you how almost any movie turns out. I seem to always remember the beginning and maybe the middle, but the end? No. My imagination has already taken me out of the theater and into my own little world.

My friends call with questions about sex, and I learn much more than I need to know about their sex lives, but at the same time, I relish how comfortable my occupation makes them. Have a question about sex but you don’t want to ask your gynecologist and you sure as hell don’t want to ask your marriage counselor? Ask an erotica writer!

Speaking of that: When seen through the haze of sex, words take on a whole new meaning. A perfectly innocent conversation turns naughty when it’s being heard by my not-so-virgin ears. Something like: “Victor said it was too big to fit in the trunk, so I put the top down and laid it in the front” will make me howl with devious laughter at the naughty images in my head.

A simple walk downtown turns into location ideas. Shagging on the train tracks? Why not? Strolling past the police station brings forth all sorts of steamy ideas, not the least of which involve nightsticks and handcuffs. Wandering around town square is an exercise in delight. There are secluded benches, hidden under tall trees. There are sculptures, all of which seem to lend themselves to odd positions. There is even that imposing courthouse, those long and flat steps, perfect for...well, whatever you might fancy could happen on the steps of a courthouse in the middle of the night.

And then we pass the church, and oh, Lord. Don’t let me get started.

But it’s not all about sex, all the time. The writer in me never quits, even when I’m not thinking about sex at all. For instance, I cannot read a newspaper without searching for typos. Quirky fonts? They drive me insane. I study typesets with the same intensity some study baseball scores or the stock market numbers. But when it comes to books, I’m really terrible. I can read through four hundred pages and no matter how great the story, that one typo on the second paragraph of page 169 sticks in my head like glue. Sometimes I reach for the highlighter – once an editor, always an editor – and then I chastise myself: Why can’t I just enjoy the damn book?

When browsing through a library, I make sure all the books are flush with the shelf -- until I catch myself doing it, of course. Then I shove my hands in my pockets to make myself quit, hoping the librarian didn’t see me taking over her space. I wander to the reference section and have to harness the urge to make certain it’s all in perfect alphabetical order.

Hell. That makes me sound like an obsessive-compulsive writer...

It might be childish sometimes, annoying now and then, and it’s definitely not good for Sunday brunch conversation, but it’s so deeply ingrained in me that I can’t seem to stop. The best part is that I don’t want to stop. I like seeing the world through imaginative eyes. I like shocking my friends with the latest naughty idea. I like taking a normal, everyday moment, turning it on its head, and making it as sexy as I can. Really, stop for a minute and look around...isn’t the whole world an erotic playground?

Now write about what you see.

Better yet, go to the comments section and write about it there. That way, we can all enjoy the products of your deviant minds!


Portia Da Costa said...

What a lovely inspiring and enthusiastic post! What you describe doesn't seem like a set of hazards at all... more like assets! :)

Nikki H said...

Gwen, you'd be more than welcome in my library. Most of my readers put books back in the wrong place or seem to forget their alphabet and don't even get me started on their inability to understand the Dewey system!

Madelynne Ellis said...

I think I find more of my inspiration from people watching, rather than in objects, leastways as far as writing erotica goes (different story if we're talking LRP props), and place, ooh yes! But it's rarely the sex I'm imagining when I get that odd smile on my face, nope it's the dialogue between the characters running through my head.

Lovely post, Gwen.

Jeremy Edwards said...

Hi, Gwen! I've recently noticed two or three big Borders bookstores, in more than one U.S. state, in which the erotica sections appeared to have been shelved by means of a computerized randomization device. So perhaps we should send you on a bookstore tour.

Anonymous said...

I think, the biggest problem really, is how much it costs to feed werewolves.

Olivia Knight said...

When I'm walking around, the expression of deep thought is there, but deceptive. I'm actually thinking "La la la la" to the tune of the Smurf Song. Actually, many of my walks feature trees heavily, and since I've been explicitly forbidden from writing erotica featuring trees... (I don't understand this prohibition. I mean - WOOD? HARD? What's the problem?)
And not being a BDSM girl (that vote for vanilla was me, everyone) I salivate in hardware stores for more reprehensible reasons. (I actually want to use those gromets for their original purpose and that nice roll of insulation tape is going to - you guessed it - insulate some wires. Sorry.)
The worst hazard for me is typos. I can't ignore them. House rules now forbid me to criticise any book I'm reading - one word against it, and it's taken away from me. (Okay, that tautology spoilt my enjoyment, but give it back, dammit...) I rant, fume, rave; I froth at the mouth about using "he quipped" as a speech-tag when it wasn't a joke (If you don't know what words mean, don't write books!), and consider

He nodded. "Yes."

to be a federal crime. When it comes to ideological issues - women who only ever giggle while men chuckle or guffaw, unnecessary gratitude/devotion/helplessness in the presence of males, etc - I pull out my pen and reword the offending phrase. Sometimes I wish I could just not see the glitches in the language that cause me so much pain, just sail through savouring the breathless excitement of the plot like everyone else. It's the same with music lyrics - the world's most perfect tune, with poor words, annoys me too much to listen to. Meanwhile, I'm probably happily enjoying all sorts of musical and artistic gaffes that have musicians and painters weeping in their studios...

Anne Tourney said...

The wonderful thing about writing erotica is the way it heightens your senses, peels away those dead layers that dull our perceptions. Everything can seem heightened, intensified, through the lens of sexuality. Thanks for reminding me of this -- sometimes I let the work of writing about sex turn into just that . . . work. As you've reminded me, erotica is a celebration of the senses.

And yeah, kitchen utensils are great! I'll never forget hearing one BDSM enthusiast go on and on about the sensations he can inflict with a barbecue fork, a Crock Pot, and a bucket of ice :-).

Janine Ashbless said...

I spent the last half of "Pirates of the Caribbean" analysing the plot structure...


kristina lloyd said...

I have sex with brutes for research purposes.

It's very dangerous.

Janine Ashbless said...

Er ... Olivia - what's wrong with

He nodded. "Yes."?

I'm pretty sure I've been guilty of that one! It's not grammatically incorrect or physically impossible. Is it just not done to nod and say Yes anymore?

Personally I probably nod and say Yes several times a day. Though mostly it's "Yeah ... coffee please ... Sorry, I wasn't listening, just got to get this paragraph fixed - what was that you said? Oh - Is that the time?!"

Alison Tyler said...

I think I find more of my inspiration from people watching, rather than in objects

I am right there with you, Madelynne. I am such a huge people watcher. Last night at the theater, I saw a man in open-toed sandals with not only painted toes (turquoise!) but with designs painted on each one. And I thought, Damn, I couldn't have made that up if I'd tried.


P.S. That said, I do love a good hardware store. Has anyone else been to Cliff's Variety in the Castro? Best hardware store. Ever.

Anonymous said...

This is my local.

The shop in "Pervertable" in B is for Bondage is this one

Alison Tyler said...

Oh, I could get lost there, Tilly.
And I love Pervertable. It's one of my favorite bondage stories. Ever.

Shanna Germain said...

Just returned from a week-long stint at the beach...and if that doesn't bring up erotica ideas, I don't know what does! Sand, surf, slightly naked people (I do live in the Pacific NW, so it's never warm enough for people to get fully naked), all those hotels and tat parlors and kite-fliers. Yum!

Best, s.

Alison Tyler said...

A semi-naked kite-flying on the beach story? Hmmm, what letter would that go under? K is for Kite Flying?


jothemama said...

I'm sure i've nodded yes more than once too!

I am heinously guilty of typos.

But I'm finding myself more and more annoyed by the mother's webisite I read and post on obsessively. No-one can spell ('stainless steal', and 'advise' as a noun, anyone?) - it's drigin me nuts. And worst of all, half the people are just sO STUPID!

Arg, I've said it - ok, I'm an intolerant snob. And I know I'm massively off hte point as well...

victoriablisse said...

I get aroused on the bus, oh yes it happens all the time. I'll be gazing out of the window and I'll glimpse something happening, or a place and suddenly I'll be copulating wildly in the safety of my own mind.

Even worse though is when you hear a kids TV character say something totally innocent, but your dirty, Erotica wriing mind turns it into something really,really adult in nature. *shudder* It's just very disturbing, really.

Ally said...

Oh Gwen what a great article.

“And by the end of the movie I’m off in my own world, making my own ending”

LOL I thought I was all alone on that one. It’s funny how a story written by someone else can muddle its way through your mind until you have it just the way you want it.

“I like taking a normal, everyday moment, turning it on its head”

I first began doing that when I learned how to write comedy, everything was funny. Then when I began writing erotically, everything was hot. It’s hilarious when I decide to combine the two.

When in my company my ex-husband and friends always end up asking me what are you smiling about? I'm sometimes laughing, when they see nothing.

But my mind is delighted at what I see, and I begin to create my own little fun. Then I’m scrambling around for my day-planner or a scrap of paper to write it down.

Does anyone else find that they are biting their lip when ever they see a hot hunk walking into the grocery store, and saying 'Oh what I could do with that.' It really pisses my boys off (now grown young men) when they see their Mom doing this...LMAO

Great way to start the day, I'm in LaLa land already.
Thank you Gwen.

PS. Can anyone please tell me how to use html to make a statement bold?

Olivia Knight said...

All these hardware fetishes - I'm starting to feel left out - anyone got a thing for software? Hold on a sec...

HTML, did you say? Quick! Let me nip into this phone-booth and don my bondage-style html superhero outfit... Doo doo doo... (Yes, that's the signature tune, not a train coming.)
To make bold:
<b>now your text</b>
You can replace "b" with "i" for italics.

He nodded. "Yes."...
I just hate tautology. It's not as bad as "No," he denied. or "Yes," he affirmed or worst of all, "Ha ha ha," he laughed but it's on my slap-myself-with-a-wet-fish and straight-to-bed-without-cheese list.

Victoria - I so agree - public transport of all forms is a killer for fantasies... Actually, coach travel is my favourite trigger for all kinds of deep thought. If I'm stuck for a story idea, a trip on the coach will usually sort it out.

Kate Pearce said...

I'm a people watcher too and a perverter of other people's story lines. I'm not really object-driven although I confess to a strange fascination with leather and black silk ribbons...
I am bad in bookstores-I turn all my friends books face out!

Angell said...

I'm the same way with the typos - drives me to distraction. Fortunately I haven't caught any in the books that are a million pages long or I'd never enjoy it.

And perfectly innocent convos? Yep - any possible innuendo runs through my mind. Even these days, reading something as innocent as Harry Potter, well, I can only imagine what REALLY happens in those dorms after lights out (yes I'm sick, I know)

Totally relatable.

Alison Tyler said...

I am bad in bookstores-I turn all my friends' books face out!

Kate, can I be your friend?

Anonymous said...

something as innocent as Harry Potter

Golly, Angell, you need to check out this post by Erastes.

Kate Pearce said...

Alison-you already are-faced out, baby

Madeline Moore said...

Fun post, Gwen. Here are a few things people have responded to my admitting, 'I'm a writer.'

'You should write my life story. No, really, you should.'

'Got a pen? No? You call yourself a writer?'

'Have I read any of your stuff?'

To number one I reply, 'No, you should write it. No, really, you should.' or, if I already have been told the story and now the person is waiting for me to supposedly finish writing it, 'Your story? I'm keeping it for a trilogy.'

and to number three...well see that's the tricky one. Nowadays I've written a few episodes of a children's animated series so I can hide behind that, but that one used to stump me. 'Have you read "Bondage of Freedom?" (an early effort) or "Mr.Twizzle's Dick" or "Snow White and the Seven Sins?" It's a tough life, really,isn't it?

Alana said...


Thank you for the post. Enjoyed the insight into your dysfunction. I mean your creative process. I should seriously only speak for myself, huh? :-)

Alison, your man with blue toenails is better than fiction. I want to meet him.

Kx, your "research" has gotten way out of hand. And that's why I love you.

Madeline M, I too get the "You should write my life story," comment and am equally bored with it. Probably what bugs me most though is when I've told someone I write and he or she says, "I write too, every once in a while, it's so much fun, don't you think it's fun?"

And I say, "I think it's a bunch of hard work."

Oh sure, writing is FUN in the the throes of initial drafting,

Jeremy Edwards said...

If I'm stuck for a story idea, a trip on the coach will usually sort it out.

Olivia, is "the coach" a vehicle, or is it a friend of yours who oversees the activities of a football team?

Madeline Moore said...

I forgot my pithy response to number 2, 'No pen? And you call yourself a writer.' I really hate that one, but all I reply is, 'Yes.'

This was once said to me by a guy who'd disturbed my languid holiday in Jamaica by sitting in a deck chair writing, the dinner table, writing...I started thinking, 'That's what I should be doing.' I felt guilty...finally I struck up a conversation with him. After he chastised me for not having a pen he let me look at his poems...and they were crap! hohoho! Of course he bent my ear for a few hours expounding on his talent but when it was over I was free to enjoy my holiday once more.

Alison Tyler said...

Off topic here, but I never have pens either. Or if I have a pen, then I don't have paper. Which is why I often have notes scrawled on my arms...

Alana said...


I used to write notes for stories on cocktail napkins in bars.

Gwen Masters said...

Sorry I've been out all day, everyone...what wonderful comments!

The comments on "dirty convos" make me laugh out loud. I agree, Victoria...the worst are the perfectly innocent kids' program, when I hear something that sets me off. Ever seen Shrek? I was laughing so hard I had to leave the room, and it wasn't for the reason the kids thought!

Ah, hell. I am so bad.

And on pens...I never have enough pens. I leave them lying around here and there and when I really need one, I can't find it. I once wrote an entire story plot on a cardboard box with a highlighter. Reading it later was a bitch...

Madeline Moore said...

'I once wrote an entire story plot on a cardboard box with a highlighter. Reading it later was a bitch...'

That's hilarious! I can only hope it wasn't a yellow highlighter.

Comments re: pens makes me feel so much better! I just KNEW not having a pen didn't disqualify me as a writer.

Gwen Masters said...

Not But at that point, I was so in love with the story in my head, I would have used yellow if it was the only thing around!

I buy pens all the time, and I collect specialty ones, like glass and quill...but the regular pens disappear like smoke. One day I will probably find them all lurking in the same place. Laughing at me.

Then I'll probably write a story about them. -grin-

Madeline Moore said...

I wrote a little movie once about the life of a Bic lighter. We never shot it though. Of course, at one point it fell in love with another lighter. Very hot.

Smut Girl said...

Very late to the party but loved the post, Gwen :)

I always have pen and paper. Always. I may forget half of the other stuff that should be in my purse to make room for them.

My best ideas to date come from a fierce combination of people watching and eavesdropping. I have incredible hearing (ears like a hawk my kids claim even though I'm not sure they have ears) and it's not unusual for me to almost completely ignore the person talking to me in favor of eavesdropping on the couple several tables over. I can't seem to help myself. I end up apologizing profusely. But...I almost always end up with a great story idea based on stolen bits of conversation that I then twist for my own purposes.


Angell said...

Gwen - I went into a kitchen supply store yesterday with my lover, and while he oohed and ahhed over how he could cook in the kitchen with what was in front of us, my mind went back to this post and all of the sudden, kitchen utensils were looking VERY sexy.

Thanks for the additional inspiration, as the sex was incredible.