Sandpaper and Snakes

I make no apologies for the crudeness of this metaphor, but I think my writing is rather like my penis, well-rounded, disappointingly short, and with an overuse of colons.

Ahem,

My writing is something that is sensitive, of which I am proud and, in the correct circumstances, can make me feel fucking amazing. One such example being the tremendous fun to be had performing at the Smut events (tickets still available for 7th of March in Luton :-D).

Another good example of the correct circumstances is in my experience of self-publishing. I treat things carefully, get them edited, and try to make a point of never reading the reviews (although “I’m not reading that you fucking weirdo!” is totally going to be a cover quote at some point). Coming back to the penis analogy, it’s a bit like having a wank. Safe, fun, reassuringly familiar. It’s not going to set the world on fire, but it’s not doing anyone any harm.

So, if self-publishing is like masturbation, then being published by a real publishing house should be like sex then, yes?

I submitted a short story to an anthology, and was accepted (yaay!). All was good, until I got the contract through to examine. The contract specified a single payment for the story (that worked out at considerably less than $0.01 per word) and seemingly made no provision for the payment of royalties. I requested clarification and, in return, got very non-specific mention of a potential print edition and royalties “Depending on sales.”

This bothered me, so much in fact that I have had to withdraw my submission as I am unable to sign the contract. You see I simply cannot see any good reason why specifics for ‘depending on sales’ cannot be written into a contract. Even under the most punitive terms (say, 0.001% of net profits on all units beyond the first million), this can be set out in a way that is clear and, most importantly, legally enforceable. The following forms part of my dialogue regarding this matter:

Without specifics on royalties and the potential of a print edition (I’m really unsure why this cannot be put into words) I am forced to consider the likely option that these will not be forthcoming.

In which case I can only look at the single payment described in the letter of agreement. This is for the sum of $[XXX] that equates to [Less than $0.01] per word. Put simply I cannot, in good conscience, accept these terms.

I hope that you will understand this isn’t a matter of my personal finances (I have a paid day job and, in all likelihood, would be prepared to let a good piece go unpaid potentially for the publicity it may receive). However, this is always with there being an outside chance of something becoming a runaway success and effectively paying for itself. In this instance there is no such possibility. Were I to accept the money offered it would work out at about a [short period of time] at minimum US wage (a little less at UK minimum wage). As I’m sure you will agree the work presented represents a considerably larger investment of time and effort than this.

As stated above this is not a decision based solely upon my own personal circumstances but upon the wellbeing of other writers. Put simply I feel I have a duty to value my work as I would those of other writers at least at the level of fair recompense for the time and effort invested. If I were to accept this offer it would, I fear, unfairly prejudice other writers who may not be in as fortunate a position as myself.

To return to the penis metaphor, this isn’t really like the warm, soft embrace of a bodily orifice, but more like a toilet roll tube full of sandpaper and snakes.


Book Review “Being Anna” by Anna Sky

Being Anna: A BDSM Diary: Spanking Submission and CFS is available now.

Before I begin I’ll just point out that, as a friend of the author, this may not be the most objective review I’ve ever done. But, that said, I shall try.

Being Anna is a collection of short entries pondering different aspects of her burgeoning kinky relationship. It’s by turns, sweet, thoughtful, frank and occasionally deeply sexy. I struggle to call this erotica as such, but it is a very engaging insight into one person’s experiences and has a feeling of sincerity that fiction often fails to capture.

On the downside it feels a little short. There’s a hefty gap between posts, almost all being within a few months followed by a very recent one looking back, which raises the prospect of there being more to come. But then again as with other pieces I’ve reviewed, a book leaving you wanting more isn’t exactly a bad sign. Also, despite having chronic fatigue syndrome included in the title (sub-title, sub-sub title?… sub totally doesn’t sound like a real word now) it makes only a fleeting appearance. Not that it’s in any way unwelcome, just that I’m sure there’s much more to be said on that subject.

A short, positive and engaging read, although (to drag everything down to crudities) not wankable IMHO.


Putting a sock on it

So it’s Ash Wednesday. The pack of instant chocolate pancakes I bought yesterday are all now somewhere in my digestive system and now begins the 40 days until Easter. I’m not even going to get started on all the fun to be had in picking apart the pagan symbolism permeating that festival (that’s something to be done on my other blog).

However, I am going to do something I don’t usually do. Mostly inspired by this post from the ever-awesome Girl on the Net (no idea how to capitalise that) I’ve decided to give up a lazy and slightly destructive habit: to-whit, wanking into a sock.

I’m sure at least one reader just spat out their corn flakes, so let me just add that the rest of this post will not be getting any better!

At first glance socks are the ideal accompaniment to a male’s masturbation. They’re roughly penis shaped and offer the assurance that, no matter how little attention is paid at the point of ejaculation, it aint going anywhere near your prized first edition of “Tickle Torture.

But there are considerable drawbacks. The most notable for me at least had been the huge difference in sensation between my little routine and pretty much all remotely sexual sensations. Nobody but nobody is going to have an orrifice that feels like day-old slightly stale elasticated cotton. And that is a very good thing! Because the other thing I’d realised is simply this: whilst the sensations created using a sock were familiar and effective, it isn’t really much fun. Yes it does the job, but the whole thing tends to be over quickly, there’s a certain amount of chaffing and it doesn;t achieve anywhere near as much satisfaction as the times when one does it properly, with lube, tissues, and a ninety minute documentary about the north face of the Eiger.

So, for lent I’m not giving up sex, or masturbation, or even porn. But for a bit over a month I’m putting my socks straight into the laundry basket in an attempt to recalibrate my dick. And yes that’s a sentence I never thought I’d be writing either.


Fifty Shades, a review from Shakespeare

Lis.
A tedious brief Scene of young Christian,
And his love Anastasia; very tragical mirth.

Thes.
Merry and tragical? Tedious, and brief? That
is, hot ice, and wondrous strange snow. How shall we
find the concord of this discord?

Ege.
A film there is, my Lord, some ten words long,
Which is as brief, as I have known a film;
But by ten words, my Lord, it is too long;
Which makes it tedious. For in all the film,
There is not one word apt, one Player fitted.
And tragical my noble Lord it is: for Christian
Therein doth do rope. Which when I saw
rehearsed, I must confess, made mine eyes water:
But more merry tears, the passion of loud laughter
Never shed.


The PIV POV Problem

I’ve had scenes that I’ve written, awesomely hot, intense, emotional scenes, that were ruined by sex.

I’m maybe being a little harsh but it’s true. there are times when I’m writing where it just feels complete. There’s nothing much that can be added by the insertion of a (usually) penis into a (usually) vagina. But I do it. Obviously I do it in a way that’s sympathetic to the feel of the scene, but there are times when I really feel like it’d be better just to let it slide in a way that twelve-year-old me hiding under the bed covers would find infuriating.

And to be honest it feels like I’m pandering. Not just to that twelve-year-old I used to be, but to others, the readers, the publishing world, on some level to society as a whole.

I was talking to someone a while back and the conversation (as seems inevitable with me) got onto the subject of female domination:

“I don’t get it,” said the other person.

“What do you mean?” said I.

“Well you’ve got a Dominatrix right?”

“Yeah.”

“But still at the end of the day she gets fucked?”

“Umm, no, not really.”

And it occurred to me than, as it occurs to me now, that there are certain dynamics, certain activities that literally cannot work if they are shoe-horned into the paradigm of everything is sex with bells on.

Sex is not sex. Some of the people I know with the worst sex lives… also have the most amazing sex lives.

Something’s broken here.


Wicked… Thursday: Trust

Well, yesterday didn’t entirely happen. I’ll elaborate a little and say that it was a bit of an interesting day made the more ‘interesting’ by Royal Mail’s descent into outright taunting. I’m not even kidding, going to the collection office and literally being shown my parcel on the other side of the glass and told that I can’t have it.

There. Are. No. Words…

Not that this really excuses my tardiness in putting something forward for Wicked Wednesday. I really like the prompt this week and, whilst I’m working on a sequel to the chastity-play story from last time, I wanted to do a bit of non-fiction blogging on the subject of trust.

I’m a kinky switch. Meaning (to anyone who’s only just stumbled on this blog… hi mum, it’s not what it looks like…) that I enjoy both dominant and submissive roles when it comes to play. This is something that a lot not kinky (and indeed kinky) people sometimes have a rough time getting their heads around. At best there’s a shrug of the shoulders and an “I don’t get it.”/”It’s not for me.” At worst it’s taken to mean that I’m secretly (shock horror) vanilla, or somehow haven’t made my mind up yet.

It’d be easy to go off on whole blog-posts on either side about how much fan is to be had from either perspective and how even the contrast itself can be an awesomely entertaining head-fuck. But I think the easier thing to do is focus on what stays the same.

Trust.

Trust is always there, it is the lifeblood of not just any kinky relationship, but any healthy relationship full stop. I see kink play as a way of revelling in trust, of celebrating that you have connected with another person to the extent that you can trust them with your emotional and physical safety. And by contrast, it’s also a reflection that the other person trusts you. Put simply, a lot of what goes with kink play for me isn’t necessarily the play itself, it’s what it represents. What is often referred to as power play or power exchange I tend to think of as trust play.

“OK,” you may say, “That’s all well and good, but can’t you have that trust without all the rope and spanking and other accoutrements?” To which I guess the answer is yes, that is possible, I suppose. But I guess it’s a bit like saying that I can get to Edinburgh by coach just as well as I can by bi-plane… but one of them is a lot more fun, and means you get to wear goggles.

Trust: n, antonym: Royal mail.


Kinky Kilts

I’ve talked in the past about how I don’t get fetish wear. I somehow can’t quite grasp the appeal of something that’s designed to both cling to every inch of your flesh and make you sweaty.

As anyone who’s met me will know I’m on the more generous side of the spectrum and the words ‘tight‘ and ‘sweaty‘ are about as far away from how I want to feel when wearing something as it’s possible to get. The only worse adjectives in my book would be either ‘stabby‘ or ‘made of bees‘.

Except something new has cropped up on my radar that  is making me alternately very happy and slightly awkward. Kilts.

I’ll prefix the following discussion with a quick acknowledgement that the whole ‘clan tartan’ business is basically nonsense. It was an imaginative invention of the Victorians who, having got this idea into their heads, supposedly sent requests to the various clan leaders for samples of their tartans so that they could all be recorded in a book somewhere. I imagine a lot fo the conversations with the clan heads went something like this:

“Excuse me sir.”

“Yes, what is it now?”

“We’ve had a request from London sir, they asked us for some tartan.”

“What? oh for pity’s sake, if they want some they can bloody buy it.”

“Uh, no sir, they say they want your tartan.”

“My tartan?” says the clan chief, glancing nervously down at his kilt. “As in, right now?”

“I don’t believe it has to be yours specifically sir, but rather a sample of yours.”

“O…K…– Oi, Geoffrey?”

“Yes my lord?”

“Do we have any tartan kicking around?”

“I’ll need to check sir, but if not I can get some from the market?”

“Oh aye, that’ll be fine. Go get some and give it to this chap, says the Queen wants some.”

“At once my lord.”

“Hey, maybe if I send her some o’ mine she’ll send me a pair of her undercrackers?”

Anyone wanting a more accurate and slightly less racist interpretation might do well to google the “Cockburn Collection”, not least because it has an amusing name. I’ll only add that, however dubious the notion of clan tartans was to begin with, there is nowadays no legal protection for such things and basically everyone is entitled to wear whatever tartan they like.

SO, anyway, apparently kilts can be seen as a form of fetish-wear. This is good for me because I own a kilt (two in fact) and also look bloody good in them (I have even been compared to the tremendous sex symbol Archie from Ballamory).

I live in a pink castle too.

I live in a pink castle too.

There are many pluses to it. It’s distinctive (particularly the one I wear, which comes from one fo the more eye-watering traditions) it looks good, and is supremely comfortable.

However, there are two things that bother me. First up is a creeping sensation that it doesn’t ‘work’, that somehow wearing it at kink events devalues it. I mean, can I wear the same outfit to a kink club and to my best friend’s wedding?

The other thing that bothers me a little is this feeling that I’m not Scottish enough. Despite being born in Fife and having Scottish heritage, the simple fact of spending most of my formative years in Derbyshire means that my accent is more Mellors than McKenzie. It’s not a big issue on the face of things, and it’s not like anyone’s going to call me out on it.

I mean hey, it’s not made of bees, and is still more culturally appropriate than wearing a kimono right?


OTK FTW OMG!

One of the interesting effects of having grown up in the age that I have and reading some of the finest smut that Nexus et al had to offer is that my experience of corporal punishment has been an entirely adult experience.

This leads to the slightly peculiar position where, rather than having had some kind of early sexual awakening during a decidedly non-sexual situation, I’ve only really been exposed to spankings, canings and other such delights as an explicitly kinky and sexy phenomenon.

This isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong or unusual in spanking enthusiasts who did have youthful experiences of such things, save that, unlike them, I had a period of time where my fondness for spanking was entirely theoretical. How can I put it, I had no idea whether I really liked it, or whether I was merely the victim of some bloody fantastic writing.

And in the world of corporal punishment there’s one thing that seems to stand above all others as an icon, a rallying point of the kink. I refer of course to the over-the-knee spanking.

I love it, I love so much about it that it can be hard to express it in sensible terms, but broadly it comes into two categories.

1) Practicalities.

The over-the knee position it at once intensely intimate and powerfully objectifying. You can feel the weight of the subject pressing against you, their buttocks neatly presented for attention. Yet at the same time their face is forced away from you. Still close enough to hear every noise, but unable to look at you without craning the neck. This is powerful stuff but is generally sugar-coating to the real benefits. First is that it’s a relatively awkward position, not massively uncomfortable, but one in which control can be maintained with little more than a firm elbow in the small fo the back. But the key element that really marks this position out on a pragmatic level is the sheer immediacy of it; the ability to feel the effect every blow has on your partner.

This is a big plus because it offers a tremendous amount of easy control over the pain inflicted. Whereas things like stress positions and torture ties are great fun, there is also great skill involved, whereas over the knee it’s somehow simpler and more focused. you are never in any doubt whether the discomfort is intentional or not, because it is, every. single. strike.

2) Psychology.

There’s ultimately no denying the cultural baggage that comes with corporal punishment. Even the name ushers in images of stern authority figures and misdeeds ripe for chastisement. It’s more than mere pain play, by taking someone over your knee it hints, however obtusely, of centuries of merciless correction; of stern and determined use of force; and of the kind of forgiveness that only comes from suffering.

It’s powerful stuff, but oh so much fun.


Guerilla Dating Tips

[N.B. I have absolutely no qualification and little knowledge of psychology, Psychiatry and neuroscience and advise anyone interested in these to seek out reliable sources of information including qualified professionals.]

Over at The Kinky Brits we’re contemplating putting together a ‘Kinky Brits guide to spanking’ (or similar, the title, along with everything else is rather up in the air at the moment). Amongst the different areas to cover is a proposed chapter on “how to meet kinky people” and as designated singleton it’s fallen on me to look at penning the bulk of that chapter.

I’ll wait a moment for the laughter to settle down.

You see, I try to avoid falling into the trap of giving advice either to people who are already happier than I am, or that I am wholly unable to stick to myself. Put simply I don’t think I’m the right person to ask.

But then again it simply wouldn’t occur to me to send someone a picture of my penis; so maybe there is some kind of a market out there for men needing basic tips on what to Definitely not do! [N.B. this isn’t the sum total of it but clueless guys is a big portion of the issue]

This line of thought got me onto a realisation that a lot of these issues come down to a sense of entitlement, which is a horrible thing in terms of the way it makes some men behave, and also royally fucks with their prospects whichever way you look at it.

Let me expound.

You are God’s gift to the opposite sex. Either because you are a physical Adonice, are incredibly intelligent, have a wonderful personality, or can do that thing with your tongue. For whatever reason you know full well that any prospective partner would be delighted to have you.

Except they don’t.

I’m not going to go into why, because that’s not what I’m interested in right now. What’s interesting is that at this point there is a huge gulf between what you expect and what you get. Your sense of entitlement hasn’t been validated. this kind of discord can be extremely tough to handle and typically leads to two responses (ego defence mechanisms? Is that what they’re called?).

1) Externalise the rejection.

You were absolutely right to feel entitled and the world at large is at fault for not appreciating you. Unfortunately this doesn’t often help matters and usually leads to being compounded with further rejection leading into what I call the ‘runaway self-denial reaction’ in which, in order to justify the gradually mounting evidence that maybe you aren’t as utterly wonderful as you think you need to construct larger and larger persecutors, ultimately heading towards accusations of “Feminazis” and getting interested in being a Male Rights Advocate.

2) Internalise the rejection.

You were rejected because you weren’t entitled. This is absolutely fine by and of itself (entitlement is a dangerous, pervasive and destructive notion, of which more to come), but a common scenario is to take on the idea of not being entitled, whilst still seeing others as being entitled. This can set up a similarly destructive and unhelpful feedback loop of rejections re-enforcing the feelings of worthlessness. This is the “You’re OK, I’m not OK” scenario described by Thomas A Harris.

The point I’m trying to make is that neither response is healthy and both can lead to very unhelpful paths of thinking. The most helpful thing to do is to attack the root cause of this, the very notion of feeling entitled in the first place. If you let go of expectations, then anything positive that comes your way is a bonus.

Except things are stacked against you on this front. Our society perpetuates the idea of entitlement and ready gratification. Consumerism and objectification are rife and overtly encouraged. This shit needs to stop. It needs to be recognised and fought. Because it fucks up everyone it touches and everyone they meet.

My number 1 dating tip? Start a cultural revolution!


Peter (s)Pan(k)

I live a grown-up modern adult life. I cook, I pay rent, I clean my shower, I even buy electricity (which is much less exciting than the “Energon Cubes” of Transformers led me to expect). I am the very model of a constructive pillar of society.

But I don’t feel that way. Most of the time I feel like a bundle of guinea pigs standing on top of each other wearing a trench coat. I was at a party recently and there were other people there, grown-up people having grown-up conversations about work. The kind of conversation where there are smiles and laughter but the words were all about things that aren’t funny or happy; words like “skillset” and “aquisitional”. I sort of stood dumbly on the sidelines offering occasional comments, but basically feeling like a child invited to sit at the grown-ups table.

The thing is, it’s not that I didn’t understand the conversation. Through my own experiences in the world of work I recognised a lot fo what was being discussed and probably could have contributed more. Except I didn’t want to.

I think on some level it’s just that I don’t want to spend my free time, especially my sociable free time, talking about things that alternately bore and depress me. Why talk about internal auditing when there are some really interesting oil paintings over there? Why empathise with someone’s chain of reporting responsibilities when you could be talking about their most recent elements of self-discovery. Why talk about work when you can talk about literally anything else?

But there’s still a part of me that whispers that the reason I don’t want to talk about those things is that I’m not really a grown-up. That if I was really an adult I’d care more about getting a mortgage and a car and the difference between Rugby League and Rugby Union.

So right now I could sit here and finish off my tax return, or go to a munch and talk about awesome kinky things, with cake, and coffee, and people who won’t look at me like a serial killer when I start talking about rope.

Which do you think I’m going to do?