I write a lot of short stories and I write a lot about sex, and mostly I like that my work isn't commercial. In soft world - the 'real' world outside my body and mind - I make commercially successful software. I make products all the time and I know that making a product is as much about compromise, targeting problems and solving them, and working with a team beyond yourself as it is about playing with your own good and bad ideas.
Appealing to a marketplace often involves trading a certain amount of idiosyncratic authenticity for wide scale relatability. That's not a value statement necessarily but I have been mostly really happy to write my not-products, to write just for me, to work out the strangeness of sex and gender and masochism and romance through fiction and art, to share it sometimes with my little corner for the world. I am satisfied. But I'm also not.
My whole life I wanted to make a book. I have made a lot of things. Paintings, cookies, photo editing apps, professional suites of software for films, cakes, thousands of portraits, a few porn films, a lot of mistakes, a lot of love. I love books and I wanted to make one. I wanted to try. Even though I know product isn't the end result of most of my writing I really wanted to know if I could make one.
I decided to keep it simple and write something I didn't often see - I wanted to write a novella about romance and romantic love and BDSM that also included the pain of masochism as actual pain, a romance that felt real to my experience of BDSM & kink, where cane strokes hurt ( because they hurt in real life ), and where the practise of kink was central to the experience of healthy romance, where sex was central to the plot and the writing as it was to the lives of the characters, where the characters were honest and unsure and trying their best.
I set out to write Anonymous Nude Photos so it felt really solid and grounded in reality - a healthy relationship between equals, a main character who was in charge of her life and her desires even if she was a submissive, even if she didn't quite know how to live it yet. The French author Catherine Millet wrote: "if you want to speak about sex in a novel or any "ambitious" writing, today, in the 21st century, you must be explicit. You cannot be metaphorical any longer." I'm not sure Anonymous Nude Photos is that ambitious but I think it's good and I understand the assignment about it not being metaphorical. I drew heavily on my own experiences, not just of masochistic pain but chronic pain, my love of self portrait photography, the struggle of integrating my kink relationships with my soft world life by intergeatinrg my romantic and creative selves into one beautiful life.
I'm beyond proud of the Anonymous Nude Photos. I'm so happy to have this Novella in the world, to hold in my hands. It's a remarkable thing to accomplish something you never thought you could. I really hope you read it, that you find something in it worthy of love.
anonymous nude photos: a love story