So you can read my books

Thursday, July 19, 2012


"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!"

I mean, just look at the skyrocket sales of 50 SHADES OF GRAY and its two sequels!

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. Hi Roland. Very sensitively written. So true. I love the poem. Does good things to the spirit.


  2. ...thought provoking post, my friend. Regardless of our personal lives, those muffled happenings taking place behind closed doors, I figure we're all paddling about in shades of grey. A few of us perhaps a bit deeper than others, but nonetheless, mired in doldrums.

    For that's who we've become.

    Big fan of the poem ;)


  3. Great and thought-provoking post. These subjects have been on my mind lately. I appreciate the idea of ourselves being reflected in our work by what we don't write...hmmm...l'amour...

  4. Denise:
    I thought that you, being a world traveler, might enjoy that poem. :-) Lately, I have seen several butcher their personal lives by trying to deny the erosion of ignoring the physics of consequences. Thanks for liking my post, Roland

    You are right there are definitely shades of gray.

    Shades of gray happen in the dusk ... the twilight of conscience, the even tide of human loneliness, and the sunset of responsibility.

    As I drive the night, I often look at the cars streaking by me and ponder about the drama happening within the hearts and minds of those drivers, speeding on their unknown journeys. I wish them Godspeed.

    The painter is revealed as much by the colors and subjects that he does not use as by those he does, isn't he? I'm happy you enjoyed my musings, Roland

  5. So true. While sex sells, it's actually the passion that comes from love that makes for a good story.

    It's also the difference between taste and sensationalism. Enduring stories and passing fads.

  6. Misha:
    So true. Sex flares. Love endures. I want a steady light on this journey we call life. Thanks for visiting and staying to talk things over, Roland

  7. Okay, if you have NOT watched the Ellen video reading 50 Shades, go back now and do so. Here, I'm going to watch again...

  8. I'm back, still giggling. If I could wear Ellen in my pocket all day, I'd never stop laughing.

    In all seriousness now, you're right sex sells, but I for one, would have to side with Ellen. Spatulas should be kept in the kitchen, flipping pancakes!!

    I don't mind reading sex scenes, I'm attempting to write a few myself. Sex is difficult to write, I think. However, I adore reading scenes leading up to the bedroom or couch or floor or front seat of pick-up truck. It's the anticipation, the foreplay (if you'll allow me to say) that escalates one's imagination. In my wip, the bedroom door always closes at the right moment. That's not to say everyone should close the door on their character's sex scenes. It's a preference and we're all entitled, right?

    Sorry to ramble, Roland. :)

  9. Candilynn:
    Thanks for pointing my readers to Ellen's hilarious video, reading 50 Shades. Sometimes I think very few watch the videos I tag to the end of my posts.

    Yes! If Ellen could ride shotgun on my blood runs, they would be so much more enjoyable!

    And you weren't rambling. You were caught up in enthusiasm.

    Sex is hard to write, you're right. :-) How much to detail. How much to leave to the imagination. I believe love scenes have something in common with horror scenes.

    No, I have not been smoking Crack. What is left to the imagination makes the moment more heightened not less so.

    Again, you're right: it is author preference. Still, we write for readers unknown, their age, their sensibilities unknown. Why not try to make our novels accessible to the widest market possible.

    CASABLANCA is still romantic even filmed with the strict limitations of the time period. (The implications that Rick and Ilsa had sex together in Paris was edited out of the finished film.) Yet, CASABLANCA goes down in cinematic history as one of the most romantic movies filmed.

    Whew~! Now, it was me that rambled!

  10. This is the most well-written post on this topic. Better than any sermon or lecture from a parent. It's so true. The Hollow People - what a spot-on description.

  11. Mary:
    Your compliment made my weary morning so much better (I was up half the night, driving rare blood down lonely rural roads!)

    I see so many Hollow People who have no idea how they came to be that way. If I tried to tell them, I would be like a mime playing to the blind. Sigh. Thank you again, Roland

  12. Very thought-provoking post, thanks Roland!

  13. Lydia:
    Have a great, productive day, today! I'm happy you liked my post. I liked yours as well! :-)

  14. Great post! Sex scenes are fun to write (and read, of course). But I'm one of those people who feel they need to be done tastefully. Like, I have no desire to read Fifty Shades of Grey. Because like Candilynn said, it's almost the foreplay that gets my heart pounding. Sex is sex. But intimacy and the revelation of true love...that's what makes me yearn for more.

  15. I think sometimes it is best inferred because it leaves the reader open to their own imagination

  16. Hi Roland,
    I think you made some good points here. Personally, I've always preferred what authors don't directly tell us. If two characters are having sex, the author doesn't have to go in that great of detail about what the characters are doing, but rather maybe talk about their emotions. Let the readers feel with them, help the readers imagine it without making it too over-the-top.

    Hope all is well! Know we haven't talked in a while, but great work on all of your books. My book will be releasing this fall!


  17. Thank you, Vicki:
    I think sex scenes are best to participate in actually! LOL.

    You and Candilynn are right, intimacy and revelation of your innermost heart makes life worth living.

    The reader's imagination is our best friend in writing our prose, and that is for sure.

    Thank you for your kind words on my books. I believe they have all been written. No more. Well, one more. Just like a man, right?

    I will be looking forward to reading your book in the fall, Roland

  18. Worlds change roland. Not saying it always changes for the better; but I see a lot of "it happens" in my world.

    Perhaps if the advertising world would recognize that there is more to human sensuality and attraction than pure sex; maybe perceptions will change.

    There are no simple answers.


  19. I think this is why I enjoy writing romance - I love exploring that slow build up of connection between two people as they come to know one another.