Being a writer is not without its perks. I can’t exactly name one at the moment, but I’m certain they exist. Hold it, here’s one. Starting sentences with “Being a writer…” Oh, and receiving gay erotic fiction from a guy who wants feedback on his work.
This morning as I chomped down my Raisin Bran Crunch, I opened email from an aspiring writer and read his gay sex story called “Michael’s Awakening.” The title has kind of a grand sweep, don’t you think? Very English Patient. Or The Sheltering Sky.
Anyway, Michael is 25 and textbook hot, if textbooks gauged such things, and happily engages in his first homo experience in the gym sauna with another muscled hottie. Everything goes along swimmingly, so they do it again in the gym shower. And then again twenty minutes later back at the house. I kept hoping they would grab some bottled water to stay hydrated. Our characters are both frighteningly endowed and no one complains about rectal spasms or asks the guy to please slow down for one damn minute, for God’s sake. But I’m projecting.
I had hoped to be transported, as good writing often does. But my critical eye kept getting in the way.
What kind of gym was this, anyway? Certainly not LA Fitness. That sauna has more of a Jewish deli flavor, with older men wearing ill-considered briefs and complaining about the poor selection at the juice bar.
This Michael fellow was mighty accommodating during his “awakening” in the dry sauna, I must say. Why was it that now, at his age, he was just waking up? From the descriptions of his maiden sexual voyage he looked wide awake to me. Maybe it simply took the right sauna. The wooden planks at LA Fitness are murder.
Reviewing porn over breakfast was crushing to my perceived position in the literary universe, I will admit. I would have preferred, say, examining a potential submission to OUT Traveler on the rustic beaches of Croatia. Hell, they could be nude beaches, I wouldn’t mind. Instead I get enthusiastic Michael, with orgasms launched with such range they confound physics as we know it.
Worse yet was writing my response. Aside from the existential crisis I endured over morning coffee, wondering how it had come to this and ruefully damning my life choices, there was the matter of deciding what to say in my role as the experienced wordsmith. First, deconstructing porn takes all the fun out of it. And once engaged in the task, using standard literary analysis felt like watching a skin flick and wondering if the wooden floors they’re flailing around on are bamboo.
I tried to be helpful in my email to the fledgling writer, pointing out the lack of backstory for Michael and actually using phrases, so help me, like “character flaw” and “conflict.” He also had the irksome habit of using language that “removes the reader from the scene at hand,” as I dutifully explained. You know, like mentioning the many flavorful selections provided by the Keurig gourmet coffeemaker on the kitchen counter, which I suppose you might spy if you looked just over the shoulder of the man getting boinked against the sink.
There are also words that are a smidgen overused in writing for this particular milieu. (Yes. I said milieu. Allow me to exercise my vocabulary after the soul crushing morning I’ve had.) Words like “engorged,” for example. There are others, and they are probably crossing your mind about now. Sorry about that.
Some words seem to exist almost solely in the context of porn. Case in point: I defy you to find the word “perineum” outside The Physician’s Desk Reference. And yet there it was, nestled in the text of Michael’s adventures, a ten dollar word stranded amidst sticky loose change.
Go ahead, Google the word. I got all day. It’s not like I have stacks of porn to wade through. Nope. I only had the one.
With my literary critique complete, I charged on through lunch with other vital business, like finding pictures online of my friends to attach to their names on my phone. I love to see their happy faces appear when they call, all of them smiling reassuringly, as if to say they believe in me, they applaud my brave and transformative work, that I couldn’t possibly be sipping coffee and bemoaning the lack of synonyms for “scrotum.”
I will trust those happy faces. They needn’t know of my morning reading. I will simply consider it an exercise in “expanding my skill set” and “pushing the envelope.” Yes. I like the sound of that.
And now I have some further work to do on my phone’s contact list. I need to assign a photo to the author of today’s reading, and it may take some time to find an image of a perineum.
(Image courtesy of Gay.net)
Once again dear Mark, you’ve tickled my funny bone with this morning story.
I’d be curious what the writer of the story you read has to say of your critique.
As for me ,my admired friend, I prefer the actual experience in the mornings and if I attempted to read such a story over my eggs and Trix I think I would have to postpone breakfast and find a partner or a substitute for one.
But it is a nice thing you are doing for your readers and I commend you for it.
I always look forward to your blogs.
Garry Allan Breul
SUNCOAST AIDS THEATRE PROJECT
Love it. I wonder what that poor writer thinks.. he must be a reader of your blog, and a HUGE fan!
Yep, it’s just like having a conversation with you, little brother. You always crack me up.
A reference librarian always needs to know… so I checked my handy dandy dictionary, not the PDR, and found a perfectly phrased explanation of ‘perineum.’ Still, I don’t remember using it in a normal breakfast conversation! Always happy to learn from a master. Thanks, Mom
(For God’s sake, Mother, I’ve told you not to read my blog every single week. Now please go busy yourself with more wholesome pursuits, like finishing up the sex questionnaire in Cosmo.)
Porn saved my life tonight
Thanks once again for making me smile on a day when I really needed it .I can always count on you to lift my spirits.
Mark, darling… since when do you have trouble finding pictures of the less savory, albeit tasty, parts of the male anatomy? Me thinks thou dost protest too much, dear. Though I can imagine their might be some confusion as to where to find a perineum whilst crunching along and suddenly finding yourself with a soft, chewy bit. Personally I’ve never experienced the difficulty, but then I’m not known for mixing sex with raisins… kiwi or strawberries, perhaps and Stoli definitely! But raisins? Come to think of it, if you put two of them together – side by side – and made them a bit bigger they might resemble that scrotum you’re looking for…. ‘scuze me. The nice young man in the clean white coat says it’s time for my meds.
I had to look up the word in my OED. There is another spelling as well: perinaeum. Maybe the porn writer should alternate the spellings, since he used it twice. Somehow the longer word is sexier.
Good job, though I’m hesitant to admit I read someone who eats Raisin Bran Crunch.
I decided to do a little fact-checking, Mark, to keep you accountable to your loyal readers. And by golly, you’re right: There is no synonym for “scrotum.”
You will be happy to know, however, that scrotum does have a word that rhymes, and it would actually work quite well in a dirty limerick.
Hey. Always happy to help.