Draft — Zora, Dreaming

In her dream, standing at the bottom of those winding, endless stairs, Zora frowned and muttered under her breath.  It was always this way:  the white marble stairs, the door locked behind her, the balcony looking out over the cliffs and then, below, the crashing sea.  In the past, she’d always stayed in this hallway, standing by the French doors watching the waves grow higher and fiercer, watching the sun fall and the clouds move in to cover the dark spread of sky.  When the rain came, she’d go out onto the balcony and stand against the rail, tipping her head back and letting the wind tangle her chestnut hair.  The rain would blow into her, beat down against her until her long white nightgown was soaked through and plastered against her.  Her nipples would tighten under the icy drops, pressing hard and sensitive against the stretch lace bodice.  Cold rivers ran down her stomach and slid between her thighs.  She would awaken when the thunder crashed overhead, her breath coming in gasps, her fingers scrabbling for purchase against the damp heat of her yearning.

This time, wet between her legs before the sun was even down, she frowned and muttered under her breath.  Then she began to climb.



I keep thinking about the quote I posted the other day.  This one:

“There is a strong difference between desire and the actual act of sex.”  Terry Cyr

It’s really clarified things for me, that quote.

I love almost everything connected with sex.  I love touching, and being touched.  I love mysterious, romantic, barely there just a whisper of sensation.  I love rough and fast and nasty.  I love bruises that linger for days, as a reminder.  I love sensual and erotic and hard core.  I love sweet nothings and I love talk dirty.  What I love most of all, I’ve come to realize, is desire.

I love wanting.  I love the catch of breath, the heart pounding, the moans.  I love hair falling across my skin, falling around my face like a curtain.

So hm.  What does one do with this?

And now, for a little romance…

Tell people you’re writing romance, and a good number of them roll their eyes.  We all know why; but in case anyone’s forgotten, here’s a list:

  • Romance novels are vapid
  • It’s just a formula.  That is, anyone could do it.
  • Despite that, they’re badly written
  • It doesn’t explore worthwhile themes
  • It gives women unrealistic expectations of relationships
  • It’s full of cliche – the moon is always full, the members are always throbbing, the bosoms are always heaving, etc.
  • The characters are shallow
  • And this

In his article, Mr. Elsner states:

I have nothing against such escapist fiction in principle. And I guess that women have as much right to enjoy pornography packaged to their liking as men. But I simply don’t find these books romantic.

He then goes on to compare modern romance novels with Pride and Prejudice.  Hm.  Well, here’s what I’ll say.  I seriously doubt that most authors of contemporary romance novels are trying to be Jane Austen.  That is, we know it’s not “literature,” and we don’t care.

Are there many, many very badly written romance novels?  Yes.
Are they all badly written?  No.
Are a huge number of romance novels vapid?  Yes.
Are they all vapid?  No.
Is there a formula?  Well, yes, inasmuch as any genre has a formula.
Can anyone write one?  No.
Is writing a good one easy?  No.
Do they give women unrealistic expectations of relationships?  You know, I really don’t think so.  No more, anyway, than romantic comedies do.  Is When Harry Met Sally realistic?  I don’t think so.  Does that make it less enjoyable?  No, it makes it more enjoyable.

Which brings me to my actual point.  When I’m reading, or writing, a romance, I’m not looking for realism.  The whole thing is about escapism.  I work a stressful, many hour a week job.  Other women are busy, raising families, taking care of elderly parents, serving on the City Council, running companies … when they read, at least sometimes, they don’t always want to have to think about it so much.  They just want something light and entertaining that will most likely have a happy ending.  We all know that isn’t life – that’s what’s so great about it. Life is many things, but it isn’t usually light, overall.

Now, ideally, a good romance will have a bit of depth to it:  characters who are more than one dimensional, a realistic conflict that involves more than “but I thought you hated me,” and a relationship that’s about more than “I thought you hated me, let’s jump into bed.  Holy shit, that was awesome!  I must love you!”

Added to all of that, despite the escapist elements of romance, some of us do actually have good relationships – as good as the relationships in good romances.  So it’s not, in the end, all that unrealistic, though the paths we travel to get to the good relationships might be less straightforward, or less fraught, or less condensed.  But who cares?

Not me!  I love romance novels – easy to read, happy ending … and if there’s some porn thrown in the mix, well, so much the better.

To Be Laid Bare

To be laid bare, to surrender
between the lines
like sunlight through glass, like
flickering streetlights or
chanted prayer –
to wear midnight like a cloak,
collar drawn close to fend off
meaning; to drown by
moonlight, in reflection…
It’s this goddamned voice
in my head,
this yearning to confess
to let go
to offer myself up baptized in flame
to speak in tongues…
It’s that heartbeat, that
solitary throbbing
to the bone, all strings quivering,
the moment suspended to the end
of breathing, beyond sanctuary,
the lines so fine, so gently
drawn, so lightly marked:
there are no stones written on,

Things I find erotic

The word “succulent”
Boots of almost any description
Flannel shirts
Things that are round
Masquerade masks
Silk scarves
The click of heels on a tile floor
Vintage porn
That spot just above the collarbone right at the curve of the neck
A certain type of uncertainty
Lace, stretchy or not
Stained glass
Things that tie or lace up
Confidence without arrogance
The word “mystery”
Nail polish
Intelligent conversation
Words well used