Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Poets

By Daniel Burnell

I don't blog or know how to blog and, much as I would like to, can't begin to know how to post something in this worthy venture. As far as contributing to Coming Together, I simply liked the idea that people of open and independent spirit wanted to link their creative explorations with worthy causes and that Alessia and other well meaning folks had created a real way for this to come about. It seemed that the personal and creative was also political and communal, an ideal of mine. It not only helped make the world more humane - but what fun! As a neophyte writer of erotica, I checked out Coming Together and saw some pictures of these folks and thought 'Sexy and cool, they're trying to live a life based imagination and freedom in oneself and from authority" and I wanted to contribute to that. My interest is in writing stories that are both artistic, turn people on and create more humanity in the world. I hope that my contribution to Coming Together: As One (a collection of stories about ménage) does that.

What follows is an interview I did about my story "Poets" which was originally published by Coming Together: As One and then subsequently expanded by me into a novella published by Naughty Nights Press. Coming Together was one of the first places that saw fit to publish my erotica. Perhaps this interview will serve to show how a writer for Coming Together goes about creating work that affords artistic and voyeuristic pleasure. It's the best I can do for you and I hope it serves.

NNP: What inspired you to write Poets?

DB: As I got into the writing, there was an interesting disconnect in the narrator between the repressed, conventional, well-meaning persona she presents to the world and her wild, wanton inner self straining to break free. I found this interesting and sexy and worth pursuing as a writer. She’s real and regular. She’s sitting next to you on the bus on the way home from work. As I got to know her and wrote in her voice, I was struck by the authenticity of her fierce wishes for a wilder life and how they powered her to go beyond wishing to actually acting out step by step her most sexy savage desires. Because she turned out to be a keen observer of the world, her close observation of the stripping away of her inhibitions with these two poets was a real turn on. Sometimes I write erotica without getting turned on. Not this time. It was the slow stripping of clothes and inhibitions that made her absolute nakedness so authentic and sexy.

Here’s something else: A version of “Poets” actually happened to me years ago but because I was, in the intro above called ‘the mysterious Daniel Burnell’, I’m not going to reveal who I was in the ménage, the woman, one of the men or the voyeur next door. It doesn’t matter. As a writer, you have to imagine characters and let them lead you. This time, unlike most of my stories, I used an actual event to help inspire me to create the voice and character of the woman and then just followed her.

NNP: Have you always wanted to be a writer, Daniel?

DB: Yes, absolutely, ever since I read and was carried away by great literary works as a teenager (among them in the beginning, “Huck Finn”, “Catcher In The Rye”, “Lolita”) I said to myself, ‘I want to be able to do that’ and set out to accomplish it. Nothing else seemed nearly as worthwhile. How else do we know we want to write except by our experiences in reading? Those great authors created worlds that were more real to me than my own world and characters more revealed to me than I was to myself. Writing fiction seemed to me to be a heroic quest. You set out all on your own into uncharted territory and come back, if you’re lucky, with a treasure to present to the world. It’s a true test of the whole self.

Let me say, right here, that I write all kinds of things, plays, literary fiction, reviews, under my real name. Writing erotica these last few years, I have had to bring all my skills to bear on the story telling and the writing has totally engaged me. It’s let me have a creative outlet for material that’s unacceptable to the literary world though the lines between the kinds of writing are getting more blurred (and that’s a good thing). Sometimes I get into a story and start to wonder, is this erotica or not? Several of the stories, I started out thinking were erotica, I wound up publishing under my real name. As a writer, you have to like being different people.

NNP: What comes first for you, the character or the setting when you begin writing?

DB: You know it varies and the process feels magical to me. It seems that my imagination is working on its own in private, that the various elements of story telling, character, setting, voice, dramatic action, come together organically without my participation until the story tears through into my awareness and must be written, almost like writing down a dream. That’s the kind of alchemy that has to go on for a story to catch me up. I hardly ever consciously say, I’m going to write about his person or this place. Something has to go on unconsciously for my imagination to be truly engaged. I do my best thinking in my sleep.

NNP: What is the main quality you like to see in your characters?

DB: First off, they have to be interesting. Really, interest is the only thing that matters and that usually comes down to the authenticity of the human truth being presented. Get your readers to believe in the truth of who they’re reading about and they’ll follow your characters anywhere. There are lots of ways to achieve this authenticity, voice, how the characters see and behave, the step by step truth in the rendering of their experience. But if characters don’t become ‘as if’ real, forget it. Erotic scenes, no matter how descriptive, are just plain boring, if the reader hasn’t been made to care about the people. It’s flat, cliched, formulaic, not sexy. Only believable characters can inspire voyeuristic pleasure in watching them behave.

NNP: What type of research do you do for your writing?

DB: Hate research. Never do it. I know a lot of writers thrive on it but I like to make everything up. I’d probably benefit from research and that I don’t like to do it has no doubt limited me as a writer. I can understand how research creates a treasure of authentic detail.

NNP: Do you have any type of ritual that you go through before you begin to write?

DB: When I feel a story is about ready to be started, I’ll clean up my workspace. As I straighten things out, it seems the elements of the story are being arranged by other hands.

NNP: Do you have any other books in the pipeline or due for release that our readers should keep an eye out for?

DB: There’s Marietta's Exorcism, a novella just out from Etopia Press,

Set in Liverpool in the 1870’s during a Halloween-like revel, it’s the story of a beautiful, aristocratic young woman’s night long debauch to avenge a betrayal. Hide this one from the children.

I also have stories in a few current or forthcoming anthologies Gotta Have It and One Night Only from Cleis Books and Lyrotica: An Anthology of Erotic Poetry and Prose from Vagabondage Press.

And here's an excerpt from Poets, for your delectation.

***

There was a point at the beginning of the proceedings in Vesuvio's Saloon when certain thoughts tried to undermine and stop me from doing what I was apparently determined to do that night: 'This isn't you. You don't do things like this. You're a responsible person who has to get up early tomorrow morning to teach your wonderful first graders. Why are you letting it happen?" But in almost no time at all, I had to admit that many things about my life were false and this crazy thing felt like one true thing at last.

I was sitting at a small, round table upstairs in Vesuvio's in the semi-dark sandwiched between two guys, both of them poets, good poets - I'd made sure of that - with one poet's hand on my left thigh and the other's hand on my right and both pretty far up there but neither touching anything private yet; and one poet's tongue in my mouth and the other poet's finger tracing my breast through my blouse, tentatively, as if it was wild, caged animal he wasn't quite sure of yet.

I liked it a lot, really a lot, the tentative, exploratory, poetic attentions of the breast-tracing poet. He was barely indenting my tit, being quite artistic about it, sensitive, bringing me to life gently, after my long sleep. His touch was of the nerves, flesh and skin and not of the nerves, flesh and skin, sensual and not sensual, electrical and not electrical, personal and impersonal, kinky behavior in a saloon and a new poem written into my flesh. I was becoming someone other than who I was and more completely myself at the same time, the truer version. And of course, the regular bodily reactions were happening down below, my pussy, hot and wet, and throbbing wildly with the beating of my heart but I didn't want the poets to kiss me or feel me up any harder or touch me anywhere else just yet, though I certainly would have permitted that and any other poetic or dirty thing these guys wanted to do to me. I wanted them to take me wherever they wanted to go but slowly, poetically and for a long time, just like they were doing.

My breasts felt like they were waking up after a long winter's nap and starting to realize just how hungry they were after their dormancy of not being touched by anyone for many months. Just keep doing it like that, poet, tracing and tracing my flesh, making me quiver and shiver just like that. At the spring rains you may switch to the other one, Sir, and when summer comes, after these delicate attentions, I grant you permission to feel me up like a fumbling teenager in the back of his car and then devour me whole.

I was in a trance, enchanted and patient rather than wildly lustful. I decided I liked that breast tracing poet best. If only I was sure of his name. I thought I knew it, I did know it, because I had heard him give a poetry reading some time back and was impressed with his writing but then his name slipped away somehow and I didn't want to say the wrong one so I was waiting for someone else to say it but no one ever did or would the entire long night.

Let's call him Anonymous.

The other poet, a busy bee, a hard worker, whose tongue was mopping mine and swabbing my palate and determinedly rounding my teeth and gums, his name was Tom. Tom, the name just stuck heavy and hard, like a mudball on the wall of my mind even as Anonymous' name kept slipping away. Strange.

It wasn't that I didn't like kissing Tom. I did, a lot. I slid further down in my chair and tilted my head back to give him better access while making sure Anonymous could still do whatever he wanted to my tits. I clasped my lips to Tom's and opened my mouth pretty wide. Tom tasted like the tequila he'd been drinking, woody, primeval, intimate. His moustache bristled animal-like against me as we breathed through each other. I got into the hot, fat, slow worminess of his tongue, into the strangeness of the feeling after such a long time of not being kissed, and really into Tom's determination to probe my mouth as if it and I must belong to him completely. The concentration of these poets' intentions and the way I was going sort of slack and open as they worked me was a real turn on, the abject surrender of me letting it happen.

All this attention, all these sensations, all this strangeness, I wanted to experience all of it as consciously as I could. That's why I wasn't drinking, because I wanted to go into this sober, with eyes wide open and all my wits about me. I didn't want to be physically overwhelmed and dominated, the cliché about when a woman takes on more than one guy. I'd never done anything like that before probably because I'd never had the opportunity or admitted to myself that I really wanted it. As I had already decided to that it would happen, I didn't want to be out of control but to go slow and feel everything intricately, in wonderful detail, sense detail as poets say. I didn't want to lose my mind, I wanted to gain it and be most poetically aware of what was happening to my body.

The truth was, I wanted to be a poet too but didn't have what it took or so I thought and so I taught first grade and went to poetry readings when I wasn't too worn out from work, looking for more mystery in my life. That night, I guess I was settling for poetic muse.

8 comments:

Garceus said...

Hi Daniel!

Just wanted to say thanks for your offering to Coming TOgether and a lot of what you say in your interview about being a writer rings true for me too.

Garce

Lisabet Sarai said...

Welcome to Beyond Romance, Daniel!

As you know (because I wrote you at the time and told you), "Poets" totally stunned me with its beauty and passion. I'm so glad I was able to convince you to join in sharing the love!

Suzanne Graham said...

Wow! Fantastic excerpt, such beautiful imagery and language. Thanks for sharing here today.

Suzanne

Alessia Brio said...

Thanks, Daniel!

Michelle said...

Thank you for the post and excerpt...

Michelle B. aka koshkalady

Annabeth Leong said...

"I was becoming someone other than who I was and more completely myself at the same time, the truer version."

Beautiful excerpt, and that sentence to me sums up what can be purest and clearest in sex and (by extension) erotica. It's dangerous because of this, but that same quality also makes it exhilarating.

Thank you!

joder said...

I LOVED learning about how your career evolved and enjoyed how lyrical your excerpt is. Thanks for being here and I'll be looking into more of your works.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

Daniel Burnell said...

Thanks for the kind words everyone. It's very nice to know I'm not out here on my own, that people who care are close at hand.
Daniel Burnell

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