Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hitting the Wall With Turkeys And A Sex Scene

"I hate straight singing. I have to change a tune to my own way of doing it. That's all I know." ~ Billie Holiday

Oct 26, 2010

Dear Friends -

Tornado warnings in Ohio, high wind advisories here in Wyoming. I am hunkered down in my studio watching the wild turkeys in the tall grass. They are trying to get over to the next field but there is a fence in the way. Some of them are trying to climb through the fence, but the mesh is too small. So they run back and forth along the fence perimeter, back and forth, crying and clucking and waving their stumpy little wings. Poor things. They have inspired a very bad poem. Here it is:

Turkey Poem

I feel sorry for the turkeys.
They aren’t very smart.
They’re destined for the butcher
Dinner as art.

They taste good at Thanksgiving,
But they want to be free.
If you were a turkey
How would you be?

I am obviously hitting the wall, creatively. This is the Marlo Thomas "Free to Be You and Me" version of a poultry poem. Stop me before I write again!!!!

Oct. 27, 2010

Since I've been here I've written about blow-ups in the classroom, student mutinies, lost children, someone driving a bookmobile and loving it, Halloween, and intoxicated people in a hot tub. I just pray to god there's a connection between all these things. I have even attempted to write a sex scene. I have only gotten as far as someone cupping someone else's breast. She puts his hand there. His lower lip trembles. They're on the prairie. In a field of wildflowers. But I can't seem to go any further south than the navel. Fade to black. Am I a prude?

Sex scenes are hard! Although I have a very imaginative mind and frequently swear like a stevedore, I have a hard time writing in a true, authentic and naked way about people actually taking off their clothes and getting down to bidness. When you think about it, sex is pretty preposterous. It's like, you want to put that ... where?

It's not dignified. It's unseemly. It's outright ridiculous. There are all those body fluids. It's messy. It's noisy. Yet people do it. It feels good. It is good. But writing about it?

It's like, look away, look away, look away, Dixieland!

Case in point: Consider Scarlett O'Hara the morning after Rhett Butler carries her upstairs in that to-die-for dress of hers and has his way with her...why, goodness, Miss Melly! She wakes up in a very good mood.

Why, shut my mouth!

So back to my sex scene. What do I want the scene to accomplish? I want it to show character. I want my readers to feel close to these people. I want them to care about them. I want them to identify with the characters, see themselves in them, feel tenderly towards them. I might even want them to get a little turned on by the scene, as I would be. I want them to be real, and sex is about as real as it gets.

But I'm not D. H. Lawrence. I'm not Anais Nin.

No, my sex scene is going to have to be mine...so if you'll excuse me, I've left two people fumbling in a field on the prairie in a partial state of undress. The wind is blowing. And there are turkeys, turkeys everywhere. I better go rescue them before things get out of hand...

I guess that's what Billie Holiday meant about changing a tune to her own way of singing. She's got to do it her own way.


  1. Hey D'Arcy
    You've already gotten farther than I have in the past ten years! Here's a great link for Steve Almond's instructions on how to write sex scenes:


  2. Thanks, Sara. I actually read it yesterday. He is VERY funny, don't you think?

  3. My advice: write it as "porno" as all get-out, just to get all that scary stuff out of your system, then tone it down to the important parts that really show the characters' personality, connection, etc., later . . . ha. I've never written one in my life, though I want to one day.

  4. Try channeling your alter ego, Good Time Gloria, and let her write it. Try to get out of the way, and just record as she recites.

    Let the good times roll!

  5. Dear Teri and Sandy - You're right. I've just got to let go of the inner censors. Teri, I will try channeling Good Time Gloria. She's in there, I know! In may not be in me to go full-tilt boogie with a sex scene but I will try. Thanks for your advice!