In the Mirror or Behind the Curtain — Where’s Your Authentic Sexual Self?

20 Apr

By Alexa Day

When was the last time you changed your mind?

One of my law professors asked that question in class long ago, when the world was newish. None of us was able to answer him. In fairness, when you’re in law school, a question like that is likely to be a complex logic trap designed to make students look hopelessly stupid in front of their peers. But I think he could tell from our faces that we just didn’t have an answer for him.

That was kind of a problem, he said. If we weren’t open to changing our minds, our minds were stagnating. We weren’t really relating to the world around us. We weren’t adapting. We were like the dinosaurs, he said.

Not a good thing for lawyers, he said.

It’s not great for writers, either.

I was reminded of my professor’s insightful question this week at a seminar on women’s sexual lives and experiences. One of the speakers challenged us to think about our authentic sexual selves. Our various preferences were important in that regard, of course. But she charged us to think about what role sex — not our sex partners, sex itself — played in our lives. How did our own concepts of masculinity and femininity, in ourselves and in others, come together in our sex lives?

What role did our sexual selves play in our creative lives? How have those roles changed over time? How might they change in the future?

Have you ever looked at yourself? I mean, *really* looked at yourself?

Have you ever looked at yourself? I mean, *really* looked at yourself?

Deep, fascinating questions. I couldn’t answer any of them, but I look forward to trying. Not right here. I know I overshare, but I do occasionally keep stuff to myself, sometimes for hours at a time.

I have found at this early point in my writing career that the actual work — meeting deadlines and promoting my book and writing the next book and so on — is taking a lot of time away from my authentic sexual self. I imagine that’s true for a lot of people. God knows women have plenty of nonsexual things going on in their lives, as well as plenty of societal things preventing us from fully exploring our sexual selves. It worries me in particular because I think my writing would be better, that it would be fuller and richer, if I were more in touch with myself (ha ha, heyo!). I hope the process of self-discovery will also add depth to my work. I imagine that’s true for the non-writers among us, too β€” the merger of sexual energy with creative energy would lend depth to whatever we do in our daylight lives.

But now I’m really curious about how this will work out in my writing. What will happen when the Muse and my authentic sexual self start holding hands? (Yes, I’m in denial. They probably want to do more than hold hands, but that can wait until he puts a ring on her finger and I can take some time off.) Will my Muse need to drink less? Will I write faster?

And how are your authentic sexual selves moving through the everyday world? Nosy writers want to know.

Here’s what I already know. Your authentic sexual self is probably already following Lady Smut. You do want to be in sync with it, right?

11 Responses to “In the Mirror or Behind the Curtain — Where’s Your Authentic Sexual Self?”

  1. Madeline Iva April 20, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    I don’t know that I change my mind so much as I dither neurotically on a more or less continuing basis…but if that’s having an open mind, I’ll take it!

    Pretty profound questions, Ms. Day. I would like to suggest that the time spent on all things erotic romance-ish pays you back — not in dating time–but (if you’re anything like me) with a sense of pervading right-ness. Like something slots into place in terms of feeling yourself as the strong, sexy, brainy bad-ass you are….

    At least I *hope* that’s the payoff. πŸ™‚

    Like

    • Alexa Day April 20, 2014 at 11:23 pm #

      I hope that’s the payoff, too! I’ll let you know if that works out. πŸ™‚

      Like

  2. Liz Everly April 20, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    Great post, Alexa. I’m afraid I might change my mind TOO much. πŸ˜‰

    Like

    • Alexa Day April 20, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

      Well, flexibility is also key with regard to this particular topic. Heyo!

      Like

  3. Elizabeth Shore April 20, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

    “I think my writing would be better, that it would be fuller and richer, if I were more in touch with myself (ha ha, heyo!).” OMG, Alexa, I laughed out loud at that one!

    In terms of changing my mind, I think I’m with Madeline on that one. I think Professional Ditherer” is my full time job.

    You post a really interesting question about being in touch with our true sexual selves. It’s a lot of food for thought, although I do think that being an erotic romance writer means we must have some semblance of our sexual selves, or at the very least an inventive imagination on how we’d *like* our sexual selves to be.

    Like

    • Alexa Day April 20, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

      I hope being an erotic romance writer requires regular congress with our sexual selves, too. But I wonder. I think it’s easy to get distracted by the work part of the work, and then it’s easy to do what works because it’s working, not because it’s authentic or sexual. The whole thing is really interesting to think about, though. Good stuff for meditation and journaling and such.

      Like

  4. C. Margery Kempe April 21, 2014 at 3:31 am #

    Funny, I find writing to be the best way to delve into my true self and discover all the facets there. Of course then there’s the putting things into practice stage after that πŸ˜‰ but the writing is ideal for that. Then again I’ve just been through the arduous process of choosing stories for an anthology called Drag Noir.

    Like

    • Alexa Day April 23, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

      Someone’s got to do those tough jobs, right? πŸ˜‰

      Someday, when my schedule opens a little, I hope to give back 30 minutes a day to Evening Pages. There’s a surprising amount of clarity to be found in 3 pages of free-writing.

      Like

  5. August McLaughlin April 22, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    Yay! Our entire lives and worlds open up when we embrace our sexuality — mine sure did! Doing so allowed me to move fully past my eating disorder and into my what I believe to be my life’s purpose (writing, activism and more).

    I’m so excited for you and all that’ll likely unfold. Thanks for sharing your decision so that other might follow.

    Like

    • Alexa Day April 23, 2014 at 11:44 pm #

      I’m pretty excited, too! I read some of my own earlier work from when I was much more tuned in to myself but didn’t write as well. I hope to regain some of the heat (or all of it, if I’m lucky) and still be able to focus on mechanics and all the rest of it. And I definitely agree with you — the world does open up when we’re in tune with our sexuality. It’s such a powerful force, and yet it’s so easy to lose touch with it, inch by inch and day by day. My hope is that we’ll all take stock of that relationship with ourselves, as often as we have to.

      Here’s to increasing!

      Like

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