Posts Tagged ‘writing’
During the month of November, in celebration of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), author (and my good buddy) Amy Butcher is giving away ebook copies of her award-winning Nanowrimo novel Paws for Consideration.
Of course, if you get the ebook version, you will miss out on the awesome flip book—illustrated by Amy—in the upper corner of the book, which features Daisy the person zooming around in her wheelchair while Skittles the dog pees on the page numbers.
“Paws for Consideration won the Gay Category at the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival. That now makes Paws for Considerationan “award-winning novel” . . . who knew?
It’s also National Novel Writing Month. Another cause for celebration not only for all the crazy writing happening but also because that’s where Paws for Consideration got it’s start.
So throughout November, you can download a free copy of Pawsthrough Smashwords. Enter your email in the form [on Amybutcher.com] and we’ll send you the download code. And if you enjoy, please give a shout out on Goodreads.”
Paws is an easy fun read, full of jaunts all over the Mission and Castro in San Francisco. I read it on a plane in basically one sitting last year when it came out, and I laughed out loud and cried when Skittles was found and was moved as the neighborhood characters found a way to come together and puzzle through someone’s death. I like how Daisy navigates through the heretofore unexplored world of BDSM in the Castro, the perspective is sweet and curious and accepting.
Oh yeah, there are play parties and sex and masturbation and flogging scenes and leather dungeons in this book too. And also lots of dogs.
It starts like this:
The voice of Daisy-the-person carried way beyond the dog in front of her. She was the morning wake-up call for her neighbors, as regular as the bells ringing out from the steeple of Mission Dolores, only higher pitched. She patted her generous lap again, encouraging Daisy-the-dog to come closer.
To the canine, it wasn’t clear where chair began and person ended. The way this creature moved, the wheels and the whir, were disconcerting. But she smelled good—of oily chicken scents and warm lint—and she wasn’t moving now. Daisy-the-dog decided to take a chance.
Now, don’t you want to read the whole thing? Go download it now.
If you’re a fan of reading erotica—and chances are high that you are, if you’re following Sugarbutch—you probably know Rachel Kramer Bussel‘s work. She’s one of the most prolific erotica editors and writers currently curating and creating dirty books and stories for us to read and explore, and I’m a huge fan of her work.
She’s included stories of mine in a variety of her anthologies, and I’m in a brand new book of hers called The Big Book of Orgasms: 69 Sexy Stories which also features many of my favorite queer erotica writers, including BD Swain and Xan West.
The Big Book of Orgasms joins a few other “big book” anthologies of short-short dirty stories, including Girl Fever and Gotta Have It and Frenzy (the latter two I have stories in), and they continue to be some of my most favorite anthologies. They’re so easy to read. It’s like the “good parts” version of other erotica anthologies, where in this one, the writers only have a couple of pages to give you the point of the story, which is usually the hottest part of the story.
The hottest part of the story isn’t always the orgasm part (very often the tease is what does it for me, for example), but it’s definitely one of the hottest parts. So basically what I’m saying is, this book is the hottest parts of the hottest parts of stories. Amazing.
So next week, on Wednesday November 6th, I’ll be reading at the Polk Street Good Vibrations toy store in San Francisco, along with a handful of other contributors to the book, to celebrate the release of The Big Book of Orgasms!
The Big Book of Orgasms: 69 Sexy Stories (Cleis Press) is editor Rachel Kramer Bussel’s latest and greatest erotica anthology. This climactic collection of pansexual short shorts are perfect for bedtime reading to a lover or on your own. Whether getting off from exhibitionism, voyeurism, hot wax, dirty talk or a very special pair of blue jeans, the characters in The Big Book of Orgasms go all out for the Big O. From vanilla to kinky, and everything in between, there’s something for all erotic readers here. At this special reading, Bussel will be joined by contributors Lily K. Cho, Malin James, Crystal Jordan, Donna George Storey, B.D. Swain, Virgie Tovar, Sinclair Sexsmith, Jade A. Waters and Xan West for an evening of steamy stories that’s sure to leave you hot and bothered.
Time: 6:30 – 7:30pm
Where: Good Vibrations Polk Street Good Vibrations Polk St. store 1620 Polk Street (at Sacramento Street), San Francisco, CA 94109
… The only problem is, I’m not entirely sure what to read. This book includes a story about Kristen, and traditionally, at book release parties, it’s customary to read the story that is included in the book. But I don’t think I can read a story about how good she is at sex and how much I loved fucking her, in public, right now. Maybe someday I can, maybe it’ll feel like fiction again, or like my own writing, but right now it just feels like ouch.
So what do I read?
Options are … well … I could read a different piece, something about rife or something more fictional. I could read someone else’s story from the book. I could write to Rachel and ask her what she recommends. I’m not sure what the best option is, for this one.
And while you’re at it, if you’re in or nearby to San Francisco, why don’t you come see me read, and get a copy of the book signed by some of the amazing contributors? It’s been a while since I’ve had an erotica reading, I’m looking forward to it.
Interview with Amber Dawn
Q: The format of How Poetry Saved My Life (prose pieces mixed with a variety of poetry forms) deviates from what readers might have come to expect from the literary memoir form. Sections “Outside,” “Inside” and “Inwards” hint at a narrative arc, though the overall structure remains more loose and thematic than chronological. Why did you choose to tell your story this way?
Amber Dawn: I have a great deal of admiration for authors—especially ex-sex workers—who write their memoir as a chronological journey. Some books I’ve had the pleasure of reading recently are Whip Smart, by Melissa Febos and Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper, by Diablo Cody. I doubt I’d have the wherewithal to sit down and write my own story in this manner. How Poetry Saved My Life encompasses nearly fifteen years of collected writing. I wrote each piece for different reasons. Some poems had more therapeutic or cathartic beginnings, harken to the book’s title. Some prose I wrote to present at sex worker conferences or forums. It took a while before I realized I had an entire book’s worth of writing, and a bit longer still before I felt brave enough to release these collected stories and poems publicly. I view the account of my experiences as more of an emotional journey, rather than a chronological one. Through this approach I hope readers will make there own personal connection to the book, even if they’re life experiences are different from my own.
Q: The book represents nearly fifteen years of collected writings. You’ve had a very diverse writing career—you’ve edited horror and porn anthologies and dipped into the magical realist genre with your first novel Sub Rosa. How did you come to write a non-fictionalized memoir?
A: I believe a voice is a powerful and privileged resource to possess, especially when it comes to something like sex work, which is constantly silenced and stigmatized. Through performing on both small and larger stages, I’ve found that in every audience there is at least one woman (or man) who not only relates to my story, but feels almost desperate to have silence around sex work and survivorship broken. I feel a duty to speak up.
Q: Is there a piece of prose or poetry in the collection that was particularly difficult for you to write or realize, and in turn share with readers?
A: “Lying is the Work” is a personal essay that juxtaposes a bad date I had during the last year of working in the sex trade with my grandfather’s story of joining the Navy at age 17 to fight in WW2. This is one of very few examples where I bring my family history into my work. I love my family and want to protect and spare them of triggers or “digging up dirt.” While I’m proud of who I am, I acutely understand that survivors and sex workers are stigmatized and that this stigma can impact families and loved ones.
Case in point, recently, my grandfather disowned me when I married my wife—a ceremony that everyone in my family attended but for him. Therefore, I feel I can tell a bit of the story between my grandfather and I—in a dignified and objective way—without worrying about him reading it. As an Italian-American immigrant and Navy veteran he has a tremendous story of survival. It’s bitter sweet that I relate to him as a survivor and yet we have no present-day relationship. This makes the personal essay very difficult for me.
Q: RADAR Productions recently awarded you the 2012 Eli Coppola Memorial Poetry Chapbook Prize for “How I got My Tattoo.” How does the title poem of that particular collection fit into your personal narrative in How Poetry Saved My Life?
A: What an honour to win the Eli Coppola Memorial Poetry Prize, and just before I launch How Poetry Saved My Life! I have a quite a few titles like How Poetry Saved My Life and “How I Got My Tattoo” that are posed like answers to questions. Sex workers and survivors get asked questions all the time. I could over-simplify all these questions to essentially, “How did this happen to you.” I hate that question—the question implies that being a survivor or being a sex worker is outside the norm and needs explanation—when in fact these experiences are very common. Nonetheless, I also sympathize that people need to ask questions and discuss. The titles that I’ve written as answers to questions are there to promote discussion in a proud and creative way.
Q: In the book you cite author Jeanette Winterson and “powerful women whose voices have been cut short” among your inspirations. Would you tell us more about how you have been influenced by literary and activist voices in your life?
A: I was in my teens and early 20s in the 1990s, and was gobsmacked by the Riot Grrl movement. My first serious girlfriend introduced me to the feminist music and zine culture and listing to Team Dresh and Bikini Kill gave me the idea that I too had something to say. Not only where these voices powerful, but they were accessible. I didn’t need education to understand the feminist politicking of Riot Grrl. But after being introduced to feminist art and literature, I wanted to learn more. This was probably the first time I ever wanted to learn or read anything. I began reading Jeanette Winterson, Beth Goobie, Larissa Lai, Evelyn Lau, Sharon Olds, Lucille Clifton, Michelle Tea, Sarah Schulman. Finally, I understood the comfort and solidarity that could be found through books.
Q: You’ve toured with the Sex Workers Art Show, created short films, as well as performed at a variety of venues including the Vancouver Art Gallery. How does your performance and film background compliment or deviate from your writing?
A: Performing at galleries or appearing in my own films has helped me get into my body. Like many survivors, I’m inclined to live in my head, my imagination is a real sanctuary. Performance art has allowed me to embody the themes and emotions of my work and connect more closely with audience. I really feel the work when I’m hurling my body around a stage. In turn, this has helped me sink into a deeper connectivity to my written work.
Q: You now teach creative writing classes—some to queer and at-risk youth. Can you say more about the potential of art to be a survival skill and lifeline to others?
A: Something very palpable occurs when a person writes their story. It doesn’t have to be for future publication, but simply to put memories on paper and/or to read them in a room full of safe, supportive listeners. It’s an investment in one’s self. It’s an act of acknowledging one’s worth. It’s making the unspoken, heard. This can have life-changing impacts on people who have been shut down or silenced. Each time I run a creative writing workshop I see a little bit of change happen. “Thank you for listening,” my students always say to me. They don’t need to thank me; they should thank themselves. They do transformative work when they use their voices.
We were together four years, and had sex six times in the last two years. Six times! I counted! I was going crazy, tearing my hair out with desire and want, getting off in secret and feeling guilty, feeling depressed and anxious and unmotivated. I wasn’t writing. I couldn’t write anything without writing I want out of this relationship but I wasn’t ready to face that. I couldn’t get sex off my mind. So I decided that anytime I wanted to have sex, I would either go to the gym, or I would write erotica.
… So of course I wrote a lot of erotica (and didn’t really go to the gym). At first, the writings were all what I wished we’d done, what I was daydreaming about.
“You did this little twist with your hips this morning that made me want to press you to the wall, hard, and take you right then.” … “Mouth open eyes closed, fingers pinching your nipples, working every lingering inch of me inside you. It didn’t really happen this way but it could have.” … “I can’t even hold a conversation with you anymore because every word in my mouth is clouded with why are we not kissing right now?”
I started writing things, sentences, syntax that I actually kind of liked. And as I started breaking through, I started discovering what was inside the block: a deep unknowing—on both of our parts.
I was struggling to become butch, but I was also struggling to become myself.
So I did what I knew to do with writing I kind of liked and was afraid to own: I put it online. I wanted to study myself, more than anything else: to study sexualities, genders, and relationships. To make a graduate study of these things, to read all the books and read all the blogs and listen to all the podcasts and ask all the facilitators I could find what their best philosophies are for these tricky topics. It became a sanctuary, a writing prompt every day, a practice, a deepening of what I knew about myself and how to be me in the world.
It has been a personal study. This place has been the place where I’ve become me.Of course, my college girlfriend (here known as “The Ex”) and I broke up. When I started writing and telling the truth to myself again, I couldn’t stay. It was a mess. I didn’t know how to leave. I didn’t know that not having good sex in a monogamous relationship was enough of a reason to leave, but I now do believe it is. I fell in love, hard, and got burned. I started healing, and grieving. I dated and explored and studied, I wrote and wrote, I started teaching. I fell in love again. There’s a lot more to all of those stories, but you can mostly read those for yourselves in the archives.
Somewhere along there, I started asking myself: “Now that I got everyone’s attention, what do I have to say?”
I’ve been puzzling through that, trying desperately to make a living to enable me to keep doing my work these past few years, which is part of why you haven’t heard as much from me. I’ve been trying to come into integrity, into integration, bringing who I am offline together with the vision of myself I came to know through words. I’ve been struggling to create myself a life I can settle into, one that is sustainable, that can last, that can feed me and carry me into the work that I know I have to do in the world.
I haven’t figured that out entirely, yet, but I am getting closer. My life has been radically restructured in the past year, and I need some retreat and some quiet and some inner work so I can feel into what the new mission of my work is here beyond my own personal liberation. Telling my own story has been and will continue to be an important part of it, but there is more to it than that. I seek structure and vision in a bigger way, and I don’t quite know what that means yet, but I can feel that I’ve been moving steadily toward it.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for all of your comments and support. Thank you for your emails (even when I don’t have time to write back as thoroughly as I’d like). Thank you for coming to my workshops and buying my books. Thank you.
I love my job.
Some of the other anniversary posts:
- Sixth Anniversary
- Fifth Anniversary
- Fourth Anniversary
- Third Anniversary
- Second Anniversary
- Bed Death, Standard Variety: the post that started it all.
(The anniversary of Sugarbutch starting was Monday, April 29th, but that was my first day after a long 6-day training and the day before I left for a two-day trip to Madison, Wisconsin, so it took me a few days to get to it. Now I’m hitting “publish” from an airplane 30,000 feet up, zooming back to the Bay Area. We live in the future.)
“Initially, I entered the field of writing through a desire to heal, but what’s been surprising is that while sowing my own transformation, my work seems to aid others’ healing,” Tara Hardy says in GO Magazine’s 100 Women We Love. “And what a privilege to be part of people healing themselves. Call me a zealot, but I believe this is a central opportunity offered by the act of creating something.”
Meditating on that today, sitting with it, swishing it around in my mouth to get every last flavor burst. I’m losing sight of my goal, my intentions, in doing this work a little bit these days. I struggle to find the right words. My life is so full, always so much going on … but I am so called to this, this writing, this way of working out my world, this way of making sense of what’s around me. The Internet and communities online are so rapidly changing, I can’t keep up, though I am trying. I’m moving toward more coaching and one-on-one work with people, and doing more workshops and teachings, but I want to keep up my writings here. I know—and Kristen is constantly reminding me—that the only way through is through, but still I struggle with being stuck.
So thanks, Tara, for that quote, and reminding me that there is a “central opportunity offered by the act of creating something”: that it aids others, as well as my own, healing.
I’m thrilled to see Amber Dawn, Miss Indigo Blue, Patricia Manuel, Jessica Halem, Sassafras Lowrey, and Shanna Katz—in addition to Tara Hardy—and other folks in my communities on the GO magazine hot 100 list this year. Congratulations.
Tara Hardy has been a mentor and influence of mine since I first saw her perform in Seattle in 2000. I then went on to be one of her students for about five years, studying at Bent: A Writing Institute for Queers, where I eventually became a volunteer and substitute teacher, and where I learned a ton about performing, chapbooks, writing, queerness, butchness, femmes, and all sorts of other life things.
Anything But God by Tara Hardy, one of my favorite pieces of hers:
Her new book, Bring Down the Chandeliers, is published on Write Bloody and is brilliant. I have many of her previous self-published chapbooks, so I recognized some of these poems, but even familiar with her work I was thrilled to see them re-made and re-imagined for this new collection. I love how she’s edited them.
I bought an extra copy of her new book just so I could give it away here on Sugarbutch. Want it? Leave a comment with your favorite poet or poem or book of poems, or something else entirely, and I’ll pick a winner at random next week Monday when I get back from Dark Odyssey.
One of her recent chapbooks, Shoulder Slip Strap (which she probably has copies of if you email her or find her on Facebook), has this short but amazing piece in it that I have been chewing on ever since I read it.
Isn’t that just oh so perfect? I love how much is encapsulated.
She’s going to be touring in the Northeast in September and October, so if she’s coming to a city near you, this is your chance to see her perform. Do it. From her Facebook note:
Tara Hardy on the loose for 20 days in the northeast: 18 performances, 8 workshops, 1 rental car, more shoes than she shoulda, and lots & lots-o-copies of Bring Down the Chandeliers (for sale!).
*Thursday, 9/15: Amherst, MA, Smith College
*Friday, 9/16: Somerville, MA, Poets Theater (Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Ave) 8pm
*Saturday, 9/17: Boston, MA, Jme Caroline’s kitchen, Time TBA
*Sunday, 9/18: Portland, ME, Rhythmic Cypher, Slainte Wine Bar (24 Preble St) 8pm
*Monday, 9/19: Portland, ME, workshop TBA, performance at Port Veritas (Local Sprouts, 649 Congress), Time TBA
*Tuesday, 9/20: Providence, RI, Providence Poetry Slam (AS220, 115 Empire Ave) 9pm
*Wednesday, 9/21: Day of rest, or rather, bookstore hop.
*Thursday, 9/22: Manchester, NH, Milly’s Tavern (500 Commercial Street) 8pm
*Friday, 9/23: New York, NY, Nuyorican Poetry Slam (Nuyorican Poets Café, 236 E Third St) 9pm
*Saturday, 9/24: Worcester, MA, Clark College Youth Performance, (location TBA) 7pm
*Sunday, 9/25: Worcester, MA, Clark College Workshop (location TBA) 2-4pm and Poets Asylum, (WCUW Front Room, 910 Main St) 7pm
*Monday, 9/26: New York, NY, LouderARTS (Bar 13, 35 East 13th Street) 7:30pm
*Tuesday, 9/27: Washington, D.C., Beltway Poetry Slam (The Fridge, 516 8th Street SE) 7:30pm
*Wednesday, 9/28: Washington, D.C., Busboys & Poets (5th & K Streets) 9pm
*Thursday, 9/29: Long Branch, NJ, Loser Slam (665 Second Avenue) workshop 8pm, performance, 9pm
*Friday, 9/30: Jersey City, NJ, JC Slam (location & time TBA)
*Saturday, 10/1: Richmond, VA, Richmond Slam (Artspace Art Gallery, 31 E 3rd St) workshop & performance, 5-7:30pm
*Sunday, 10/2: Day of rest, or rather, search for best vegan food in D.C.
*Monday, 10/3: Washington, D.C. Mothertongue (DC Center, 1318 U Street NW) workshop 6:30-8, performance, 9pm
*Tuesday, 10/4: New York, NY, Urbana Poetry Slam (Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery) 7pm
When Peace Comes by Tara Hardy
Thank you, Tara, for all that you’ve done and all you’ve taught and all you’ve shared with the world. You’ve been a huge influence, and I wouldn’t be where I am if I hadn’t had your guidance and brilliance along the way.