♦ After a busy morning, lunch was quickly eaten with friends old and new, tweets were duly caught up on and retweeted and then it was on to the afternoon. Much as I think the speakers are fantastic, there was no way I was going to the talk about sex and spirituality. As an atheist and as someone who tries to be rational, spirituality of any kind is just not something that applies to me. Even the closest I’ve got to writing about a sexual and spiritual experience was definitely not a spiritual experience.
Instead I headed over to the Photography workshop, which was being run by Molly after the original speaker had come up against urgent family problems. I have to say, I was very impressed by Molly’s ability to pull a very good session out of thin air! Of course, when you know that much about your topic I suppose all you have to do is tell people it, but if you’d told me it had been planned all along, I wouldn’t have been surprised.
We got to see the impressive Lightroom program at work (I’m really going to have to get it), we learnt that essential self-photography items like tripods and triggers needn’t be expensive and I learnt perhaps my most valuable technical tip of the weekend: don’t upload photos bigger than 900 x 600 to WordPress and just use the WordPress photo percentages to resize them. Photos that big aren’t needed (for screen use, anyway) and using that method can make your site very slow indeed. It was sort of obvious once DomSigns said it, but it’d never occurred to me before and I do that all the time. Looks like I’m going to be going back through all my photos to resize them properly (and add watermarks) soon!
At the end of the session, Molly mentioned her photo idea of getting a bunch of attendees in a row, back to the camera and bare-arsed. The room figured now was as good a time as any to do it! I so, so, so nearly joined in, but nervousness just won out. It was a tough decision, on the one hand it would be an awesome, bond-forming and empowering thing to be part of and I’d get a great picture with me in for my efforts. On the other hand, I was shy and nervous and I felt it was a rare occasion that my arse looks good on camera. I didn’t want to hate the shot. Getting my bum out in a room full of people seemed scary but also thrilling, but there were so many people already volunteering and I took so long deciding that I chickened out despite geting myself 95% of the way to going “Fuck it!” and joining in.
It was probably a good decision, though, as I’d have had to have spent ages awkwardly easing up my tights way after everyone else had already re-robed and plus the final picture shows a lot more possibly-identifying clothes, body shape and back of head than I’d really be comfy with. Next year, though, if the opportunity arises, fuck it, I’m in. Someone make me if necessary.
The next session was a big toss up: do I indulge my tinkerer side and go for tech talk or my creative side and go for tension and conflict in erotica? Well, in the end I’d been to plenty of techy ones in previous years and conflict in writing is really something I’d like to get a better handle on, so I headed to Mirren Baxter and Judith Watts‘s Building tension: conflict and consent in erotic fiction.
I’m so glad I did, as it turned out to be my favourite session of the whole weekend. At first it was a little hard to see where the speakers were going. We were asked to list all of the reasons we could think of that someone, whether from this reality or another, might have sex. Here’s what we as a group got (click to embiggen):
I managed almost twenty myself and felt like I’d pretty much exhausted the options, so it was amazing to see another 30 or so ideas pop out of other people’s heads.
The bulk of erotica, we were told, tends to unfortunately focus on only the first two of these reasons: love and lust. How boring! Here’s where the session started to turn, for me, revolutionary and yet so simple. Pick something else. Anything else! Any of these other reasons to have sex is much more interesting than love or lust in terms of narrative and any of these other reasons comes prepacked with conflict, whether it’s against the self, another character, society or nature. Just try it and you’ll agree. This is the wonderful method I learned for this session: pick a reason for a character to have sex, ask yourself “What type of conflict can arise from that reason? What stands in this character’s way?”. Boom, instant conflict, instant tension, instant narrative.
And that is what I absolutely loved about the session. So simple, but so inspiring, such a new way of looking at how to create a narrative. And so creative. That room was abuzz with energy, you could tell. I was so impressed that I went straight down to the Eroticon bookstore and picked up their Mirren and Judith’s book Get Started in Writing Erotic Fiction (also available for Kindle), because frankly if the rest of the book has even anything like that in it, it’ll be worth it.
Finally for the day, we headed in to watch A Place of Power – the exquisite grace of deep surrender, a demonstration of ecstatic BDSM by London Faerie and his partner Marti. I won’t go into too much as my clarity of detail fades the further from it I get and as I feel you really had to be there for it to have the same meaning. Faerie and Marti, though, are captivating, both as individuals and as couples. And their play together was beautiful to watch. Although I understood the significance of the head-shaving, it didn’t really resonate with me and left me a little cold, but the rest of the session certainly connected. I find myself jealous of their wonderful skill and connection in BDSM! The majority of the session was breathtaking, beautiful and even made me a little shy in places. I dearly wished I’d got a chance to talk to them after the day ended, but they were rightly very popular and I was feeling a little too nervous to approach. Next time!
Speaking of next time, do “tune in” then to hear a little about Saturday night and a lot about Sunday’s great sessions! ♦