Sunday, 14 February 2010

Bad Sex for St Valentine's Day

It's St Valentine's Day and it was obvious that I should write something about writing about love. Only trouble was, it was like meeting a bloke your best friend insists is perfect for you: he looks all right, he sounds all right, but he doesn't do it for you. In fact, I don't really like writing about love at all. My characters fall in love, and out of love, but they do it as part of a 100,000 word novel. To write about love now, just because it's St Valentine's Day, feels a bit like being some poor chap at the IVF clinic being asked to provide a sample.

What I do like writing about at almost any time, however, is bad sex. (By this I mean the sex is bad, rather than the writing. I hope.) Good sex should be involving, happening entirely in the present, with no distance between mind and sensation and emotion. That makes it much harder to convey an individual experience in a way that is universal. Bad sex on the other hand...

Well, we've all been there, haven't we? Sex when you realise that you don't fancy them after all, sex where it goes wrong, sex when you'd rather read a novel. When the sex is bad, your brain doesn't engage, you become an observer. The characters can observe what's about to happen to them - Is he really going to do that? Oh God, yes he is. Wish he'd hurry up so I can get back to Chapter 4. You can make bad sex sad, or funny. You can make it slapstick - my favourite bad sex scene is in Another Woman's Husband when everything conspired against the would-be lovers. You can use metaphors in a way you'd never get away with if the sex was supposed to be good - take going round the golf course, him getting to the 18th while she's still stuck in a bunker over by the seventh, putters rattling in the golf bag, missing the shots, hole in one.

I hope in real life you're having a lovely romantic day. And if stuck alone with a laptop, I hope you're enjoying fantastic bad sex.

No comments: