Three weeks into this running routine and I'm starting to turn a corner where the workouts don't seem so much like a dredge anymore, but an opportunity to clear my head. The first couple of weeks the only thoughts I was able to process while running was, 'please don't die on this treadmill,' or 'is thing broke? Why are the seconds ticking by so slow?' Now I'm able to clear most of the white noise from my brain and just focus on breathing. That's the real joy of running for me, being able to clear your mind and enter a bit of a zen like zone. I spend way too much time inside my own head, and I welcome any activity that gets me out of that strange, cluttered space. The challenge next week get's ratcheted up a notch. There are two quarter mile and half mile runs in each workout. Which will by far be the most running I've done in one workout in the past five years. I'm looking forward to pushing my limits a little bit further. It's right about now when most people who made New Year's resolutions start quitting, and for the people who stick it out, this is when the real work starts.
I've been working a short story for a couple of weeks, and I'm kind of stuck. The story is about how people deal with breakups in the digital age. We've all been party to breakups via social media. You notice that there's trouble in paradise when profile pictures start to change. After things fall apart hundreds of pictures will disappear, you get those messages asking if you would please delete your friends ex from your friends list.
It's hard to watch your ex eventually start meeting other people, you wonder what is going on with all the new friends they are making, especially when they are friends from the opposite sex. You start to see pictures of them with people you don't recognize. The whole process is brutal, and you wish that you lived in a time when all a breakup meant - at least when it came to bumping into your former significant other - was a couple of awkward days of getting your stuff out of your ex's place, or having to hear about them from time to time when you talk to a mutual friend.
This isn't exactly new ground to trend, but it's something that interests me, so why not give it a whirl? The difficulty I'm having with this particular story is writing about sex. There are a couple of NSFW passages that are driving me nuts. It's not that I mind working blue. I'm am far from a prude. It's just hard to write about sex without sounding hokey. I have all the respect in the world for writers who can write a sex scene without it reading like something out of generic, genre fiction. The first couple of drafts of written have both had sex scenes written like something out of the Fifty Shades Generator.
To make matters worse, I can't get the thought of my Grandma or Sophomore English teacher reading this out of my head. The teacher is holding the back of her hand to her forehead, guffawing. My Grandma is trying to tell me, in no uncertain terms, how much I need to let Jesus back into my life. These are not exactly thoughts conducive to writing sensuous prose.
The easy thing to do would be to just cut the sex scenes out of the story, but the idea that your ex is out there having sex with other people is essential to the story. Having services like Facebook and Instagram really help fan the flames of jealousy and remorse after break ups. For instance, what is the number one question that comes to mind when you see your ex with their arms around a new guy/girl? For me it's, are you fucking that guy? Which leads to - Is the sex you are having with him better than the sex we had? It's a completely selfish and juvenile line of questioning, but we all experience it. Without the characters in the story thinking about, and having sex, there really is no story.
If I can't write about sex, then what am I doing as a writer? Sex is a wonderful thing, maybe the best of things - or is that the line about hope from Shawshank Redemption? I've never had a problem writing about brutally violent or emotionally harrowing experiences, but when it comes to writing about the driving force of the species I turn into a blushing, embarrassed hack.
If you are a writer out there, is sex something you have a (pardon the pun) hard time capturing? When it comes to describing a women's anatomy, which in my mind is the most beautiful, wondrous creation on this planet, I am at a loss for words. It's also hard to explain the completely rapturous and satiating feeling of those moments leading up to, and immediately after orgasm. Yet even writing words like orgasm, breast, vagina, or erection is enough to turn my cheeks turn red. The funny thing is that when I'm joking around with friends I have no qualms with talking dirty. In fact, I'm often the person who takes things too far. It's only now that I'm trying to capture something authentic and deeply personal that I feel naked and vulnerable.
Writing takes a lot of courage. All good writing is an act of revelation by the writer. The stories and essays that I'm most proud of writing left me feeling completely and utterly exposed. If I'm going to continue to improve as a writer there is just no way that I'm going to be able to avoid writing about something as deeply personal and important as sex. It's time for me to grow up a little bit and get down to the business of writing about...
Oh, boy. I have a lot of work to do.