Wednesday, August 13, 2008

When your erotic imagination takes you somewhere you're ashamed to visit

I recently went to see the 100th Anniversary exhibition of the work of Balthus at Fondation Pierre Gianadda in Martigny in Switzerland. I always find that paintings have much more impact when you see the real thing than when you see the catalogue reproduction. This exhibition was beautifully mounted. It was possible to walk through a broad selection of Balthus' work at leisure. Even though the exhibition was very well attended there was time and space to take in the emotional impact of the paintings.

Two things were immediately apparent: Balthus was enormously talented and he was fascinated by images of young girls that convey a deep and passionate eroticism.

Although none of these images show anything as graphic as actual sex, they show clearly the sexual nature of these young (sometimes very young) girls.

It left me startled. I couldn't make up my mind whether I should be outraged, whether I should be ashamed of myself for feeling the power of these paintings or whether I was imagining things as everyone else seemed to be browsing the exhibition as if it was another viewing Monet's Water Lilies.

I think that their power shows them to be art. I feel like a Victorian wanting to add a fig leaf to the Michelangelo's David but I can't get over how disturbing I found the images and how easily those around me accepted them.

I finally realised that what disturbed me about these paintings is that Balthus makes me see little girls the way a child molester does. He does it subtly and with skill and his vision has a certain type of truth to it. The verb that comes to mind to describe this is corruption.

I know, I know, I'm reacting on a purely moral basis here.

I'm sure there are gay artists who could make me see men the way they see them. I would be fascinated but I wouldn't feel corrupted.

What makes Balthus different is that I think that what he sees (and what he makes me see) is not the truth about these girls but a projected fantasy of what he would like them to be.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Silver Linings –good news in getting stories published

It’s been a quiet year with my writing so far. I have a lot of stories part way through so I’m hoping for a burst of posts in the autumn. The good news is that the stories I have written are finding their way on to websites and anthologies.

One of this years stories, “Toying with Lily” has made it into Alison Tyler’s “Hurts So Good”

I’m pleased to see this story in print. I’m also proud to be in the company of the other authors in this collection:

The Sound of One Hand Clapping Nikki Magennis

Sting Jessica Lennox

No Substitute for Experience James Walton Langolf

Panty Lines Sommer Marsden

Lucky N. T. Morley

Testing the Water Teresa Noelle Roberts

Never a Rookie Craig J. Sorensen

Provocation Jay Lawrence

I Promise to Do My Best Teresa Joseph

Party Manners Morgan Aine

Trophy Buckle Rakelle Valencia

Toying with Lily Mike Kimera

Turnaround A. D. R. Forte

Flick Chicks Allison Wonderland

Equilibrium Anna Black

First Time Since Xan West

Omega to Alpha Diana St. John

Crossed Rachel Kramer Bussel

My Mainstream Girlfriend Stephen Elliott

Rock Paper Scissors Shanna Germain

All in the Wrist Alison Tyler

I also have a story in another anthology edited by Alison Tyler this year, “Open for Business – Tales of Office Sex”. Here’s a link to Gwen Masters Cleansheets Review of the anthology which says nice things about my story “Have A Nice Day”.

I know this all sounds terribly self-congratulatory and narcissistic. There’s certainly an element of that, but the excuse I make to myself is that while writing is a solitary pursuit that is really a struggle in which the writer tries to land the story that his imagination has hooked but which may still get away, publishing is a social activity where the writer gets to find out if the outcome of the struggle is enjoyed by other people.

This is a long winded way of saying that reading reviews of stuff that I put forward for publication helps maintain my motivation to write.

One of the questions I had in my mind was what motivates an editor to go through all the hassle needed to produce an anthology that all the rest of us benefit from but in which they get a maximum of one story of their own.

I found a good answer on Alison’s website Alison must be one of the most prolific erotica editor's around and I've often wondered where she gets the energy.

Take a look at her post on her latest book - a guide for couples illustrated with autobiography and favourite pieces of erotica called “Never Have The Same Sex Twice” – and you'll be infected by her passion for keeping that first time heat in (at least) the sex you write about.

Read her post entitled “Riven with Need” and you'll see how her fascination with passion is linked to an ability to feel the power of words the way most of us feel that it-always-makes-me-cry song.

I came away from her site thinking that my writing needs a shake up – I first started writing hot scenes I thought were stories. I want to find a way to use the technique I now have available to me to express the hot, sticky, risky but worth it, oh my god who'd have thought this was possible excitement I used to be able to produce.

Here’s the excerpt from “Toying with Lily”

Toying with Lily

© 2008 Mike Kimera. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without written permission from

The jeans are a deliberate act of provocation. Lily, my allegedly submissive “You can do anything to me. Anything at all. I’ll even call you, Daddy while you do it” mistress, likes to test my limits by defying me. She wants to see what I will put up with and what I will do to keep her in her place. She likes to be kept in her place.

At the moment, her place is standing in front of my chair with her hands behind her back and her head held high, waiting for me to flog, pinch, spank and fuck her to orgasm. We both know that by now she should be naked. Instead, she has chosen to present herself wearing tight-fitting jeans and a sly smile.

True, Lily is impressively naked above the waist. She is a fully fleshed woman, short without being in any way small. Her breasts are large and heavy, and when, as now, she holds her hands behind her back, they push out almost aggressively. Her stomach is soft and flows over the cruelly tight fastening of her spray-on jeans. At any other time, I might have relaxed back into my chair and considered whether to start by using the soft calf-leather hand-lash on her belly or by suspending weighted clamps from her nipples.

But now my focus is on her jeans and the smile that accompanies them.

I could just tell her to take them off.

Or I could throw her onto the bed, wrestle them from her, maybe even cut them off her, and then raise welts on her substantial buttocks with the crop.

But then I would be doing the obvious, which means I would lose the initiative and, if that were to happen often enough, I would lose Lily.

I don’t want to lose Lily. She makes me feel alive in a way that no one else does.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Death Grief Guilt and Getting Over It

My dog died. He was a yellow Labrador who had been part of my life for fourteen and a half years. I loved him more deeply than most of the people in my life and this month grief has had me in its grip.

I’ve been through grief before; my father, my mother, my mother in law, my nephew. It never gets any better.

If you live long enough, everyone and everything you love will die and every time grief will ride you, wrenching bone deep sobs from you that strip you of all dignity. Letting you recover and then doing it again and again; triggering a renewed sense of loss each time you come across some small reminder of the life you shared. Grief multiplies death. It takes away everything that makes life bearable and leaves only pain.

My dog didn’t die in his sleep. He ate some wood that obstructed his bowels. It took a week of probing and x-rays and ultrasounds and eventually an operation before we finally had to have him put down. That week is etched into my memory. Why is it that the nasty, gut-wrenching things in life are so easy to recall while happiness fades like an old photograph?

I cried over my dog’s death. Cried. That doesn’t describe it. Crying sounds polite and controlled. I would stand with my eyes closed, my mouth stretched open obscenely wide, my hands by my side, my head thrown back, as great gouts of sobs forced their way out of me, taking my breath, shaking my whole body, filling my mind with nothing more or less that a howl of anger and pain and loss that, if it had words, would fire them like bullets, like grenades, like napalm at a universe that has this death in it.

You’re body won’t let you cry like that for long. It makes you rest and go through the motions of eating in between bouts of soul-crushing grief. And in those gaps when the parasite grief lets its host recover,guilt wormed its way into my mind. It became crystal clear that my selfishness, my unwillingness to accept that some things can’t be fixed, my endless ability to make facts fit my aspirations, had led to my dog spending the last days of his life in a cage in the ICU of animal hospital, in the company of strangers, combating pain until his heart could not stand it.

Guilt curled around my pain and squeezed until my previous sobs seemed mild.

My wife and I come from Irish families and so we did what we always do when grief rides us, we held a wake, just the two of us, a cluster of photo albums and bottle of Rijoa. With each sip of wine we took turns telling stories of our dog and why we loved him and what made him special. We laughed and we cried – just tears not sobs – and we let the memory of him fill us for a while.

It is a month since he died. I was scheduled for leave so I didn’t have to try and work in the immediate life-sucking period after his death. I got support, wonderful, heart-warming support, from the folks on ERWA. The periods of doing other things than grieve are getting longer. Life will return to normal soon.

Except that it won’t. The grief will visit less often. But each bout of grief leaves a scar on the heart. Our dog, who has been with us almost every day since 1993 will never be with us again. There is nothing normal about that.

Enough of sorrow. Let me spend a moment on love. Why should this dog mean so much to me?

Every morning he would wake and face the day as if it was going to be the best day he’d had so far. He was wilful and stubborn and persistent but never mean spirited or violent. He would respond to complex verbal commands but never admitted to knowing the meaning of “Bad Dog”. When my wife and I hugged he would wag his tail. If one of us was ill or sad he would lay beside us until we felt better. He loved unconditionally but was never obsequious or needy. He had a cartoon dog look that made strangers smile. He would walk into a room and expect everyone to admire him. He was everything a Labrador should be. He made me more human than I would otherwise have been. You can’t bullshit a dog. You have to be yourself and deal with what that means.

I miss him so much it hurts. It will always hurt. That seems to be the price the world extracts for letting yourself love deeply.

It may sound morbid but one impact of his death is to remind me of the reality of my own. He was with us fourteen years and yet, in retrospect, it seems like almost no time at all. In fourteen years I will be sixty five. Few of the people in my family have made it to seventy. Perhaps my dog’s last gift to me is to make me raise my head from the ruts habit and convenience and compromise have worn into my life and ask myself how I will make the next fourteen years worth living.

I don’t have the answer yet. I’m still at the point were getting through the day feels like an achievement. But I know it’s the most important question in front of me and I know that writing will be part of the solution. I’ll keep you posted.