When I was first learning to write, I’d hear over and over again: write what you know! That would stump me because, at the time, after studying sacred sexuality for a year while combatting PTSD, I figured what I knew best was crying and orgasm . . . But somewhere along the line, I had adopted the belief that the heroine of a good story never cries. Never. Heroines are always strong and independent, tearless and stalwart, cheerful even, in the face of crisis—not a puddling mess of vulnerability and emotions. Which left writing about orgasm, but I was too much of an upstanding citizen to deign to writing Porno.
Still, my mascara-streaked, tear-stained, moaning face was right in front of me. I knew it well. Then Fifty Shades of Grey hit the bookstands. And I got it: juicy is what the world wants—and crying and orgasm are both juicy. So I began rereading my journals where I had documented the intricacies of crying—the taste, smell, and texture of sadness. I began, too, to pay attention to the moments leading up to letting go in orgasm. Essentially, I began looking closely at what it feels like to move from composure to surrender, from control to abandon. In doing so, I discovered an honesty and strength in my writing that had been missing before. As much as I had wanted to be Pollyanna, that had not been my life’s path. Pollyanna was not what I knew best. Eventually, I wrote an entire memoir—at the heart of which is a whole lot of crying and orgasm—and discovered the experts were right: Write what you know.
And my additional advice? Make it a little naughty. We could all use more juicy.