September 22, 2005

Sex Writing

sex writing

This is the most unscrupulous thing I’ve done as a writer. Violet Blue, sex editor/educator, made a comment on one of Shirley Shave's very first posts asking if she wanted to be included in an anthology of sex essays, a collection of non-fiction. At the time, I thought it was a cool and funny thing to do. The blog was just starting out and I didn't think it would take off like it did. Shirley Shave had her own email address so I wrote back--as Shirley--Great, thanks. I wrote to some other people as well which is how the site started getting a lot of traffic. Someone called it a form of performance art, which is a generous way of putting it. I tried not to write so much in the emails. The more I wrote, the more I was crossing a line.

I struggled with getting published in the book. I was being dishonest. It could compromise the book. But I wanted readers, or else I wouldn’t have started the blog in the first place. People who have been reading this blog for a while know that I haven’t had the greatest luck as a writer: read The Opportunist. That’s why I went through with it. I can’t say that I’m not proud that it’s out. The book looks great. It’s the first thing I’ve had published in book form since my first novel. Shirley has a chapter called "A Beginning: from ‘God’s Wife.’" I don’t think revealing this will make people doubt that the other pieces in the book are non-fiction. The writing is strong, it more than makes up for Shirley. I hope it will be an interesting footnote to a great collection.

Having Shirley in a collection of non-fiction actually makes some twisted sense. The book is written like a non-fictional memoir in the first person which is why it worked well as a blog. While I was writing the novel, I had the idea of crediting it to "Shirley Shave with Henry Baum" like a fake autobiography. I think that would only work if I was already a successful writer. Otherwise, it would confuse people. This also wouldn’t entirely have made sense given the third part of the book. After L.A. she moves to New York and falls apart. The book then takes a new direction when she joins a religious cult. I don’t think people would have liked, or believed, seeing her go in this direction. It’s partly why I stopped the blog. Readers seemed to like the blog most when she was confident and in control of things. At the end of the book she becomes a kind of sex Goddess with a commune of her own.

Either this is a great literary swindle or I’m going to hell. Whichever, please check out the Best Sex Writing 2005.


Joseph K said...

When did you tell Violet Blue (assuming you did)?

Henry Baum said...

A couple months ago. She was understandably pissed. She was worried that this would overshadow the book. I don't exactly see that. The other pieces are obviously non-fiction. Justification, maybe. Losing my job made me want to reveal it. I've got a kid to support and all that. I'd like to finally get some credit for God's Wife.

Henry Baum said...

I’m being disingenuous. I’d also like to get some credit for being published in this book, but I don’t think it’s going to devalue the book to do that. It could even get some attention for the book.

Joseph K said...

God's Wife is terrific. You should get credit for it. I am, uh, not a, uh, expert in, uh, supposedly real internet sex writing, but I gotta imagine, uh, that a lot of it is fictionalized. Uh.

Natalia said...

Oh dear, I just hope there is no lawsuit.

Besides that, you definitely deserve credit for God's Wife.

tequilita said...

something weird. violet asked me if she could use some stuff from my blog too (at the old address). i was a little confused, b/c i don't really ever write about sex. i was curious what she could possibly want to use.

apparently she didn't want to use anything too badly because she never followed up or answered my questions about the book.

Empty Drum said...

Dear Best Sex Writing 2005,

Like most healthy guys my age, I am consumed by an obsession with the erotic potential of Mah-Jong tournaments. And I used to think that all the "Mah-Jong Orgy" letters you printed were fictional -- until it happened to me....

RuKsaK said...

Pretending to be a whore to get something published has a gorgeous amount of irony in it. You should write a book about that- which is the more despicable/lovable whore?

Well, I dunno, maybe.

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