on writing sex scenes

When I mention I wrote a novel, it’s amazing how many people ask if it has sex scenes. It’s a fair question. Sex intrigues. Sex sells. But honestly, while there’s implied sex and the hint of sexual activity, a go for broke sex scene just didn’t fit. (Yes, I am aware of how many copies the Fifty Shades series sold.) In my pages, you won’t find ripping bodices, pulsing anything or turgidity, except a little bit in one self-love scene that may or may not make the cut as the story moves through the process.

Frankly, it’s a little intimidating to write a sex scene (unless your name is Pavarti K. Tyler, my erotica writing friend). For starters, you have to use the right vocabulary, and that’s hard to do without blushing or giggling. I recently read an article written by a poet who was trying her hand at prose. The one aspect in the conversion she found most difficult was sex. In poetry, fruit can serve as a metaphor for sex acts and body parts. But “he cupped her ripe mangos” isn’t exactly going to fly, even in chick lit.

Seriously, the synonyms for the real words are worse than the words they are meant to replace.

But it wasn’t the difficulty of writing sex scenes that kept book number one on the dirty side of chaste. I just wanted to emphasize the other ways my main characters bond.

But gird your loins for my second book. It’s going to be steamy.

 

and now the waiting

94,400 words, two professional rounds of edits and an uncountable number of marks with my dying red pen later, I’ve started pitching agents.

The first experience was only made tolerable by the help I got from my dad, who it turns out is an ace at writing proposals. On Facebook, I compared sending the first query to the first time having sex. It was dreadful. Uncomfortable. I was full of self doubt, but experienced a sense of relief when it was done. Six hours later, the agent in question rejected me (another parallel to my first sexual encounter) but each query I’ve made since has been easier. Better. And on the plus side, it only took two hours and four minutes for an agent in my top three to request my full manuscript.

Yes, as I described a few months ago, the agent pitching process is a lot like online dating. But worse in a way because you can’t tell whether someone peeked at your profile, and it could take four to six weeks to get a wink. Or you might not get a wink at all, as the downside to electronic submissions is that many agents only respond if they are interested. So at some point in the average response window, if you haven’t heard anything, you have to reach your own conclusion that s/he is just not that into you(r writing). I’m not good at reaching that conclusion in my dating life, so this part is going to be particularly tough for your favorite debut novelist wannabe.

In the meantime, while I wait to either hear back (or not) from the remaining 24 agents I’ve queried, I don’t really know how to channel my creative energy. Do I start writing the second book? Enter some writing contests? Revamp my Modern Love essay that was rejected? Reconnect with the real world, which I’ve more or less disappeared from since the  beginning of the new year? Recommit to finding a new client? Bask at the pool and read?

Or maybe, while I’m steeled for rejection, I’ll try online dating.