Being a writer is not without its perks. I can’t exactly name one at the moment, but I’m certain they exist. Hold it, here’s one. Starting sentences with “Being a writer…” Oh, and receiving gay erotic fiction from a guy who wants feedback on his work.
This morning as I chomped down my Raisin Bran Crunch, I opened email from an aspiring writer and read his gay sex story called “Jason’s Awakening.” The title has kind of a grand sweep, don’t you think? Very English Patient. Or The Sheltering Sky.
Anyway, Jason is 25 and textbook hot, if textbooks gauged such things, and happily engages in his first homo experience in the gym sauna with another muscled hottie. Everything goes along swimmingly, so they do it again in the gym shower. And then again twenty minutes later back at the house. I kept hoping they would grab some bottled water to stay hydrated. Our characters are both frighteningly endowed and no one complains about rectal spasms or asks the guy to please slow down for one damn minute, for God’s sake. But I’m projecting.
I had hoped to be transported, as good writing often does. But my critical eye kept getting in the way.
What kind of gym was this, anyway? Certainly not LA Fitness. That sauna has more of a Jewish deli flavor, with older men wearing ill-considered briefs and complaining about the poor selection at the juice bar.
This Jason fellow was mighty accommodating during his “awakening” in the dry sauna, I must say. Why was it that now, at his age, he was just waking up? From the descriptions of his maiden sexual voyage he looked wide awake to me. Maybe it simply took the right sauna. The wooden planks at LA Fitness are murder.
Reviewing porn over breakfast was crushing to my perceived position in the literary universe, I will admit. I would have preferred, say, examining a potential submission to OUT Traveler on the rustic beaches of Croatia. Hell, they could be nude beaches, I wouldn’t mind. Instead I get enthusiastic Jason, with orgasms launched with such range they confound physics as we know it.
Worse yet was writing my response. Aside from the existential crisis I endured over morning coffee, wondering how it had come to this and ruefully damning my life choices, there was the matter of deciding what to say in my role as the experienced wordsmith. First, deconstructing porn takes all the fun out of it. And once engaged in the task, using standard literary analysis felt like watching a skin flick and wondering if the wooden floors they’re flailing around on are bamboo.
I tried to be helpful in my email to the fledgling writer, pointing out the lack of backstory for Jason and actually using phrases, so help me, like “character flaw” and “conflict.” He also had the irksome habit of using language that “removes the reader from the scene at hand,” as I dutifully explained. You know, like mentioning the many flavorful selections provided by the Keurig gourmet coffeemaker on the kitchen counter, which I suppose you might spy if you looked just over the shoulder of the man getting boinked against the sink.
There are also words that are a smidgen overused in writing for this particular milieu. (Yes. I said milieu. Allow me to exercise my vocabulary after the soul crushing morning I’ve had.) Words like “engorged,” for example. There are others, and they are probably crossing your mind about now. Sorry about that.
Some words seem to exist almost solely in the context of porn. Case in point: I defy you to find the word “perineum” outside The Physician’s Desk Reference. And yet there it was, nestled in the text of Jason’s adventures, a ten dollar word stranded amidst sticky loose change.
Go ahead, Google the word. I got all day. It’s not like I have stacks of porn to wade through. Nope. I only had the one.
With my literary critique complete, I charged on through lunch with other vital business, like finding pictures online of my friends to attach to their names on my phone. I love to see their happy faces appear when they call, all of them smiling reassuringly, as if to say they believe in me, they applaud my brave and transformative work, that I couldn’t possibly be sipping coffee and bemoaning the lack of synonyms for “scrotum.”
I will trust those happy faces. They needn’t know of my morning reading. I will simply consider it an exercise in “expanding my skill set” and “pushing the envelope.” Yes. I like the sound of that.
And now I have some further work to do on my phone’s contact list. I need to assign a photo to the author of today’s reading, and it may take some time to find an image of a perineum.
This article first appeared on My Fabulous Disease, Mark S. King’s regular – and fabulous - blog.