I’d like to write another story for Best Women’s Erotica; I’d like to publish that story in another edition of Best Women’s Erotica. Over the years, editors for the annual erotica collection have rejected my work once, shortlisted my work once, and published my work twice. Marcy Sheiner and Violet Blue are incredible people. Female sexual activists are always incredible. I don’t think anyone knows how brave a sexual activist is, especially a female sexual activist.

Once a week, I read my friend Emerald’s blog and consider her a sexual activist coming into her own, how convicted she is about the rights of women, sex workers, human beings in general and I think, what a responsibility it is to take that stuff on, to vocalize your opinions regarding sexuality in face of a culture like ours: a mixed bag of prudes and perverts.

Americans are sexually dysfunctional. We loathe women comfortable in their own skins, the ones who open thier mouths, those who defy the Madonna/Whore complex. Meanwhile, no one will know the kind and generous friend Emerald is, how amazing it is she puts up with me, how she encourages me. Emerald encourages humanity as a whole, actually, although most would fail to recognize her advocacy. Most of us fail to acknowledge the selflessness of friends, let alone our sexual activists.

Thinking about Best Women’s Erotica the other day, I began to compose a letter to Keanu Reeves, with whom I had an encounter some years ago, which lead me to recall the steady flame of a man’s gaze and how then I existed.

Last night at the dinner table, as my son and I bantered back and forth in our usual manner I said, “When my novel comes out,” and then caught myself and said, “Hey, I said when not if.”  And felt delighted. I’ll publish my novel then I’ll exist.

What saves us?

I joined the Rumpus mailing list not too long ago and receive daily emails from site founder, Stephen Elliott. Over the last few weeks, he’s struck me as vain. Takes one to know one, doesn’t it? A lot of writers strike me that way. It’s a risk we take. Jesus was an empathetic, sensitive guy, but he was also full of himself; there’s no other way to bear the cross.

Consider what it takes to go stark naked. The point of writing about ourselves is to write from the inside out until we achieve a universal truth. I think Nick Flynn said that or Vivian Gornick. Or maybe it was my friend, Craig Sorensen.

My boss’s life coach addresses the destructiveness of vanity, and I know what he means, but he isn’t a writer.  This is an excuse or a  reason.  Writers say over dramatic things like, “If I wasn’t a writer, I’d kill myself.”  Except seventy-five percent of the time, I’m serious. Last night my son said, “Lots of religious people are too worried about what happens after they die instead of  paying attention right now.”  Writers are in the moment twenty-four-seven, which is why some of us are Atheist.

God doesn’t make you a good person. Get used to it. God is an asshole. Life is ambiguous.

I recalled a day recently when I walked home from a grocery store. I was nineteen and alone. At some point I registered a man tailing me. I wasn’t scared at first; then I was. When I arrived at the house I shared with two roommates, they weren’t home and I locked the door. Within a few seconds the guy tried the front door then the back one too. I heard him going around the house; I watched his shadow pass behind drawn curtains. I heard him trying this window then that one too.

Without second thought, I called my father. Imagine you’re Jesus and your father is God. Doesn’t matter if he’s God or not because our fathers always feel that way to us. I’m a perfectionist because I’m still trying to please him.

Within minutes that day he arrived and saved me. This was a joyous occasion. The bad guy had gone.

  • Alana…it took my breath away when I saw my name in this column. Of course I want to say thank you, so much I don’t even know how to. I am struck by your words, “how amazing it is she puts up with me” — when I see it so very differently. Always, I have found the very privilege of your contact with me and your existence in the world amazing. That perspective has never wavered.

  • “but he isn’t a writer.” – yeah. I’m constantly struggling against the voice that says that it’s wrong and bad to seek attention via writing. So, I let deadlines go by and then beat myself up about that. Geez. Congrats on the “Hey, I said when not if.” That’s pretty damn cool.

    And yeah, Emerald is awesome. She’s just as cool in person too – I love talking with her. Maybe the thing I love best about her is that she is just like us, with her own doubts and all that, but she fights against them, just like the rest of us that keep at it. Even if only intermittently (speaking for myself there).

    It’s a funny feeling, reading something like this (mentioning four people I’ve met in person, though I know Em the best), and I’ve not met you other than via the internet (yet). I’ve been thinking about how it is my writer friends (both virtual and “real”) who keep me going when I am close to throwing in the towel. Not by anything in particular they say to me, they may not know me other than by name really, but I can see that they struggle with the same demons, and they when they don’t give up, it gives me some strength to go on.

    Thanks for this post Alana. Hugs.

  • Pax Romano

    “God doesn’t make you a good person. Get used to it. God is an asshole. Life is ambiguous.”

    If I did not love and admire you enough, with that line you’ve gone and made me a life-long fan.

  • A wonderful post, Alana. I think I did say something like that about nudity and writing.

    Lots of religious people are too worried about what happens after they die instead of paying attention right now.

    Too true. Actually, lots of people in general are guilty of this, but the point regarding religiosity is a good one.

    Your story of being scared, and your father coming to your rescue is moving. This emotion, combined with the other complex aspects of your relationship with him tells so much.

    And I want to chime in with a “hear, hear” to your thoughts on Emerald, as well as Robin’s.

    And for the record, I still think you’re amazing, and I’m especially glad to hear that you are saying “when,” not “if” about your novel.


  • Judy s

    Excellent!! Remember, when your novel is
    finished, your are getting a tattoo and I’m
    taking you!!!