So you can read my books

Sunday, November 6, 2011


"Sex without love is a meaningless experience,

but as far as meaningless experiences go, it's pretty damn good."

- Woody Allen

Sex does help. Just not the way we would think in our novels.
Jodi Henry once wrote an excellent post ( )

on the subject she thought I was going to discuss : sex in literature.

A squrim-worthy topic she calls it. It is that and more because :

Sex sells.

You roll your eyes and go, "Duh!"

Yes, sex sells ...

but not always for the reasons you might think.

Men, of course, are hard-wired to see a beautiful woman and have their hormones go into a conga line ( )

But we men are more complex than the cliches written in COSMOPILITAN.

Sex. Lust. Love.

The first two are primal instincts. The third gives birth to legend and magic.

Every writer is in much of his work. But it is not as straight-forward as that.

J.R.R. Toilken rarely, if ever, wrote love scenes. Instead, he wrote distantly of Love, the concept with which Tennyson teased but never consummated in THE IDYLLS OF THE KING.

He was a shy man, and it shows in what he chose NOT to write.

He reflected his times -- as we must reflect ours in what we write and for whom we write.

But for whom do we write? And what exactly are "our" times?

We live in a lonely age. From teenager on up, we feel outside, misunderstood, and alone -- the three labor pains that give birth to the possibility of love.

A reader is drawn to a novel by what is lacking in her/his life.

We've already touched on some of the things most people feel lacking in their lives. It can be summed up in one word : intimacy --

Sex is only the tip of that iceberg floating in the existential void of our modern times. There is much more beneath the murky surface.

How many of us feels valued, loved for who we truly are - bulges, skin blemishes, and other imperfections not withstanding?

Not many.

How many of us have such passion and fire in the night that we tingle in the morning light?

Even fewer.

Many of us settle for half-relationships, tepid gropings in the dark that leave us feeling empty, not full, the morning after.

Why is that?

In the process of love-making, we leave a bit of ourselves with the other. If we make love without feeling love, the other fails to leave a bit of themselves within us.

Inside we have become less ... not more. Do that enough times and a void is carved within us.

That is why we have become the Hollow People, seeking to fill that emptiness within with all the wrong things :

Sex without satisfaction.

Passion without permanence.

Lust wearing the mask of love.

Think of the words of John Masefield :

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

Why did I quote Masefield's poem?

We all long for that handsome, beautiful Other who will tenderly stroke our cheek,

fan the fires of our passions,

and fill our hearts and head with the laughter of two souls meant for each other.

Romance. Magic. Love.

Those are the stars a winning author steers by.

Fix them to your mast, and you will never go wrong.


  1. nice. love the John Masefield poem. I'd read it before in school but the last line particularly caught me:

    "And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over."

  2. This is one of my favorite poems and I think it sums up appropriately our eternal search for the Magic One. You could also say that writers write the kinds of stories they do the same way readers are drawn to read the books they do.

  3. mshatch :
    The last stanza is my favorite part of the poem as well, Roland

    Melissa :
    I think you are right about why we writers write the stories we do. Thanks for visiting and staying to chat during the busy NaMoWriMo month -- whose waste of creative time saddens me, Roland

  4. This is a really great post! Great quotes, great points, and great examples. Poignant vid with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, with lovely music. It's inspiring to think of love as something that (as you say) "gives birth to legend and magic." :)

    And EXCELLENT and intriguing point that a reader is drawn to a novel by what is lacking in his/her life. (Authors tend to write things into their novels for the very same reasons, I think.) It seems the lack of LOVE is a basic lack that can be a key concept to tap into, in a novel.

  5. The search for "the one" placed in novels is a difficult one to master. I like the ideas posted here--and happily not doing NaNo so that I can work on much more important things--I want my characters to "be in love" or think at least that they are.

    Having been married for 24 years to a man who I still am in love with and he me (and the mysteries of deep love still mystifies even me), I thought this was an excellent post, Roland. And the poem was a first for me.


  6. Hi,

    Potent words, potent thought-provoking post, R.

    I dare say there are writers and readers alike whom seek from novels an element of what may be missing from their lives. Hence novels are escapism from reality. But, if all that is sought is the "something that's missing" then there are vital questions begging to be asked: why do people read books that are scary or read books containing gross horror?

    I have no desire to experience an axeman murderer real-time, any more than I wish to encounter a beast with teeth and the power to crunch my bones and it's being out of a cage. Sci-fi is OK, it's make-believe. ;)

    As for romance! I found my prince. Enough said. :o


  7. ...kudos on the poem, my friend.

    Bottom line, sex sells, regardless of the industry one hopes to succeed in.

    As writers/readers, I've managed the best results in penning the anticipation of love...gearing up for the act, as opposed to simply tossing one's character's into the sac for a quick sell.

    It's all in the touch, soft lips, a fleeting glance, and details galore ;)

    Well done as always, Roland.


  8. Carol :
    Thanks for liking my post so. Yes, I do believe we as authors and as readers are drawn to books that have elements lacking at the moment in our lives. Even in long time relationships, or maybe especially in them, intimacy is something strangled by familiarity or by stress of living. Wasn't that vid moving?

    Lorelei :
    I'm so happy to be able to introduce you to Masefield's stirring poem for the first time.

    I am so glad your relationship with your husband is continuing to grow and deepen. So few do these days.

    NaNo saddens me. We should focus our efforts to write real novels not grind them out for word counts. And at this time of year when kids are out of school :

    "No, Johnny, mother doesn't have time for you. She has to churn out her nonsense novel."

    It is a group-hug way of following the semblence of your dream without running the risk of rejection by agent or editor. Sigh.

    Francine :
    Good questions. Stephen King says we are drawn to the horror novel as a way of sublimating our all too real fear of terrorism, cancer, economic and natural upheavals -- over which we have little control. In horror books, we have the semblance of control of associating ourselves with the survivors, saying to our anxieties, that we would survive those all too real things we fear.

    I am glad you found your prince and are happy. But for many who have found their prince or princess, the flush and blush of first love is long gone ... and mourned. Romance novels are a way of getting a ghost of it back.

    Hey, but if I'm so smart, how come I'm so poor? LOL. Thanks for visiting and staying to talk awhile! Roland

  9. Elliot :
    How true. It's the sizzle that sells the steak. The tease that heightens the enjoyment of the strip. That's why scantily clad lovelies always seem more enticing and sexy to me than simply clothing-challenged naked! LOL.

    Thanks for the kind words! I was feeling lonely there for awhile, Roland

  10. Great post on love and I love the theme from Somewhere in Time. I'll never forget reading Richard Matheson's excellent book called Bid time Return and being shocked at the way they changed some of the details for the movie. I read the book at least twice to make sure it was as deep as I thought it was....Back when I had no one to love and no one to caress my cheek.

  11. The Desert Rocks :
    I had no idea that the movie was based on a book by Richard Matheson! I'll have to read it now.

    Isn't the movie theme lovely? All of us have the basic need to be loved for who we are. I am a romantic at heart. Be here this Friday when I alone keep romance's torch held high with my own ghost story, Roland