Latest posts for tag writing

Recently, I've been stressing out that I've been spending a significant chunk of my personal time writing fiction. I feel like I am wasting time. Instead, I reason that I could be working on classes (either about relationships or kink), personal open source projects, or taking steps to publish the fiction I've already written. Underlying this is the idea that fiction writing is frivolous/escapist and doesn't contribute to the spiritual work I'm trying to accomplish.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who experiences regular doubts and insecurities about the work they are doing. For me these insecurities are a natural part of being vulnerable. I have high hopes for all of my love and intimacy projects. I hope that I'll help people think more intentionally about love and intimacy. I hope to show it's not just something that happens, where we follow society's expectations. Instead, we can choose our own path, and can learn and teach the skills that make intimacy successful.

Doubts are easy. Who am I to believe I can help people see the world differently? Even if I can possibly do that one-on-one when I'm talking to someone, where do I get the idea that fiction can cause people to think differently?

That's all a bunch of bunk of course. I can point back to plenty of fiction that has influenced how I think about the world. Even in my spiritual work, fictional representations of the divine have been critical in helping me find my own connection to the gods I work with. I can even point to cases where readers have talked about how stuff I wrote helped them at a time when that was important to them and other cases where I did cause people to think differently in exactly the ways that are important to me. But none of that matters to the little voices of doubt.

And of course we do our best work when we believe in ourselves. If you live in a world of magic, that's only natural: it is easiest to focus your intent when things are clear in your own mind. And so the little doubts get in the way and turn us aside from being our best and being productive. It's crazy. I've been on a tear lately. Since December 18 I've managed to write 35,000 words. This is some of the best quality story I've ever written. Rather than celebrating that and taking the time to write more, I'm sitting here doubting whether I am being indulgent.

I'm sharing my struggle in that hopes that the next time you doubt yourself, you tell the doubts to get lost just like I'm trying to do.

Of course there is a balance here. The doubts, at least in my experience, have a grain of truth. I absolutely should spend some energy getting existing writing published. I've actually been working on that. Similarly, it's been a while since I have been working on classes. It's coming up on time to do that. But what's really going on in my mind is that I'm afraid to believe in myself. If I put myself out there, I'm vulnerable. It's hard work after all. Especially for creative projects, many people will not see things the same way I do; they may not see the value I'm hoping they do. But ah, the rewards when they do. When something you do manages to connect with someone else, that's one of the best feelings ever.

So I'm going to try to squish the doubts and enjoy this surge of creativity. It's helping me explore power exchange and what I value in relationship. Besides, I'm finding my world building and characters more compelling than a lot of what I'm reading lately. That's a great feeling. For so much of my creative journey, I've been embarrassed by my own art. But in the last few years I've reached a place where I can be proud of it, at least when the little doubts are silenced. So I'm going to try to enjoy that. And I wish you success when your own self doubts stand in your way.

As a postscript, somewhere between writing this and publishing it, I had an opportunity to put together some class proposals and have them seriously considered. I also found time to work on thoughts about a class I hope to present this fall. I also had a great conversation about book covers for existing fiction. So, by defeating the voices of doubt (at least for the moment) and believing in myself , I managed to find the time and will to move all the projects forward. The magic really does come when we are in the right frame of mind to manifest.

We're going on an adventure to figure out where we need to be and to find our tribe and family. The first stage is to go to Hawaii. I was doing ritual work that I thought was focused on whether I should bring my Venus idol with me. Of course she will be there in Spirit. The question was whether she should make the trip.

The ritual had other ideas. My plan was a celebratory dance/playlist divination ritual. By playlist divination, I mean I put together some set of music—hopefully long enough ago that I don't remember what I have—and play it on shuffle. Sometimes i ask specific questions before a song transition, sometimes I just let it all flow. The celebration of course was to give gratitude and thanks.

The dance ended up being fast paced and ecstatic. In the early part of the ritual, I stumbled into the altar. Every male symbol on the altar fell over; the candle was extinguished. Shortly there after, Rabbit's Song began to play.

Oh, right, Hermes! Oops, yeah, I guess that's a question that needs more consideration than Venus. As part of establishing Lovers Grove I started work with Hermes in his role as messenger. Chuck was the one who had the connection to Hermes. I was hoping to learn through Chuck how to establish my own connection. Before I gained comfort with that connection, Chuck and I parted ways.

Connecting with Hermes was a stretch. Looking back, part of it is that I had stories of Hermes but not any modern practice. It's unsurprising that I wouldn't connect with an ancient Greek view of theft and crime. Besides, let's face it Zeus is a thug and an ass; and I'm nervous approaching his right-hand enforcer when I don't have much connection with Zeus himself. Everyone thinks Hermes is a a natural fit. I mean messenger—you know, Internet and all that. Perhaps, although it seemed to me like if the Internet was going to have a goddess, she’d be new, not Mercury in his pumped up kicks.

Even so, I’ve continued to do messenger work. I’ve written around 380,000 words of fiction around exploring love, sexuality, in connection outside of the context of our fucked up world. I’ve continued to live my life as an example and to connect with people one-on-one. I continue to hear the shouting and yearn with all my heart for another way.

And I could use help in all that. Some of my fiction is really good, but I need help getting it out there. I know that I alone—even R and I together—aren’t going to be the messenger I hope to be. There are aspects of marketing, timing, and finding audiences that I’m just not good at. And perhaps that means I won’t be that kind of messenger. I know I don’t want to live my life at the social media pace. If that’s what it takes to reach people, then I won’t be the one doing it.

Gods can help. They can give us the courage to believe in ourselves. They can make connections between people. And they can help us explore who we want to be.

As I danced, I apologized for not thinking of Hermes and celebrated what work I’ve done as a Sacred Messenger of the Grove. I celebrated the people I’ve connected with, and the fiction I’ve written. I received an acceptance from Hermes I don’t think I’ve gotten before. “I’m still here. We can work together; you don’t need anyone else to reach out to me.”

Then I thought about how there are things I still do every day that are tributes to Hermes. Whether it’s the importance of motion, the easy traveling food I always have, I do have a Hermes practice ready. I was just afraid to call it that and actually honor him in the practice.

The past few days since that ritual, I’ve been working on calling out to him explicitly. It feels good. I’ve already started to brainstorm ways I could reach out and move forward on messenger projects that have been blocked.

More than that, I need his advice on this adventure. I need to figure out what the role of messenger is in my life. That is part of figuring out where we need to be, just like my Venus work as lover.

Last December, I wrote a story for a Christmas contest based very loosly on the adventures of two people I know who defied custom to help people as they emerge from prison. Unlike a lot of my fiction, I was able to ((lg:Gift of Humanity (Expurgated)|produce a version)) without explicitly sexual content. I feel comfortable sharing that version with professional contacts who ask about my writing. I just got around to posting that version on my website and so I wanted to share it here. I didn't place in the contest, but I'm proud when I compare my work to the other entries.

It has been really wonderful to share this with coworkers and my parents and be able to say, “See, that’s what I’m about when I’m asking people to think more about love.” The story actually started great conversations with my parents. My father has been volunteering helping mentor prisoners, and the discussion created an opening for us to talk about the challenge of integrating people back into society.

Personal Impact

I may not have won the writing contest, but I won the contest of life with this story. Talking about it helped my fiancée and I grow closer. Then later, she borrowed from the main character in the story when it was time for her to let me know how serious the relationship had become.

The Expurgation Process

I knew when I finished the story that I could trim out a couple of scenes and make it something I would feel comfortable sharing more widely than some of my more explicit fiction. Actually performing that trimming was hard: I was worried that I would find the sex scenes I trimmed didn't affect the overall story. I don't see anything wrong with writing sex scenes to appeal to the prurient interest of the reader. However, I hoped I was doing something more. This was the first real test of whether that was the case.

As it turned out, my fears were groundless. I actually had to reshape the characters somewhat in order for the story to make sense with the sex scenes trimmed. The female lead needed to be less assertive and her boyfriend needed to be more confident in the relationship. I needed to appeal more to the reader's stereotypes of how relationships work for the story to flow.

The change is small but significant.

I hope you enjoy and would value any feedback you have.

As I left work Wednesday, my boss stopped to compliment me on starting posting Lover's Shadow. I panicked.

Bosses just aren't supposed to know about the erotica you write. My initial reaction was "How did he find out?" That's probably one of the stupidest things I've thought in a long time. I posted to Facebook and another social networking site. Because of a tangled confluence of events, I even pointed him at a couple of entries on my blog. My SOL author profile is easy to link back to my real identity. I'm trying to create a social media presence; people are supposed to be able to find out.

I have talked about the fear and embarrassment of my love work coming up in professional contexts. My boss's comment triggered that reaction. But as I examined my reaction, I realized that didn't make sense. We were alone in the building. He was careful to mention he was shifting into a personal context; I consider him a friend. I've talked about my love work before with him. As I dug deeper, I realized that I was reacting in fear to how open I had become. If my boss can find my work, so can anyone else. Others might not be as careful of my need for acceptance, respect, and to choose boundaries around how one part of my life impacts my professional work. It wasn't my boss at all: it was me facing the inevitable consequences of openness.

In a conversation discussing my reaction, my boss said that I did a great job of projecting openness and comfort. He implied that without that, he never would have approached me. It fills me with joy to hear that I've managed to create that climate. That's much of what I'm trying to do.

Finding Pride

I'm very glad that my boss did compliment my work. It means a lot that I can create something where the openness shines through enough that someone who takes a different approach can acknowledge the achievement. It was hard for him to bring up the subject; it would have been very easy to say nothing. The compliment was heart-felt.

Also, I found myself trying to dismiss his compliment. "It's just porn," I thought. As I thought that, I realized that I didn't believe that. Writing a hundred thousand well-crafted words about anything in the middle of moving, finding a new job, and struggling with a crisis of faith is something to be proud of.

And it's not "just porn." It's a narrative about openness and a commentary on shame and intent. I've focused as much on the world building, character development, and politics as any author. Yes, there's a lot of sex, but the sex is an important part of the character exploration as well as a challenge to the reader to think about intent. I think it's hot, but it's more than just hot.

So, being challenged in this way helped me find pride that I otherwise would not have done.

Living Openness

I do want to embody the openness I projected to my boss. I want to be the kind of person who can hear congratulations about my erotica with the same comfort I accept comments about my professional standards work or my contributions to Debian.

Apparently I'm not there. This conversation helped me confirm that's what I want and understand what I need to do in order to achieve that.

In a future post, I hope to come back to the challenge of maintaining appropriate professional boundaries while being open about my life. I know I'm not the only one struggling with that.

My first novel is now posting. Lover's Shadow returns to the universe of my previous novellas, a world in which openness, love and passion are necessary to survive the terrors of the night. I return to Lady Ashley six years after we last saw her. She has put her joy and insatiable sexuality to work guiding the surrounding communities to find the passion and connection they need to survive.

Watching the characters unfold on the page brings me joy. Everyone needs to be able to let down their guard and be as open and vulnerable as they can be. Few could do that all the time. So, I've spent a lot of time exploring how people find safety and a little bit of space between the openness. Late in the process, the nobles truly fell into place, balancing the formality and distance that allow them to make hard decisions of life and death against the moments of deep connection necessary to survive and teach. Finding that balance and the tricks of language and emotion to express it allowed me to grow as a writer.

The Light of Passion universe lets me write sex with confidence. At first the sex scenes might appear unrealistic. There's very little fumbling around trying to figure out what people want, and much less wondering about the results after. For a lot of people that would be unrealistic, but I'm writing about people who care about love and sex and who spend time learning to be good at it. These people exist in the real world: I meet plenty others at events focused on love and sexuality. My sex, and the sex I listen to or talk about at these events feels a lot like what happens in Lovers Shadow. People approach sex as a way to learn and teach as part of their connection. The sex may not work, but it is an opportunity to figure out what to do better next time. It's silly and messy and comfortable.

Sharing that is one of my biggest motivations for writing. I hope you'll walk away with a greater sense of how much power you have as a lover. You and those you join can decide how you'll approach the experience and what you'll take away. You can decide what's gross or what's fun. Together, You can decide whether doing something will grind you down or give you strength.

We spend a lot of effort today focused on the idea that you are never obligated to have sex. Consent matters. I believe that with all my heart. However, I also believe that if you want to, you can say yes. Lovers Shadow is a reminder that no matter how many times you say yes, no matter how often and with whom, your value is not reduced. There can be strength in saying no, but there need not be weakness in saying yes. It is your choice.

The world building has been fun. The population is low; resources like land and raw materials are abundant if you have the means to exploit them. Technology that lets the low population go further is highly valued. How does that affect things? How does war and conflict work in a world where at least within a community, connection and love are essential?

Writing Process

I had no idea how much work would be involved. The first draft came together fairly quickly. Since then, there has been a huge process of improvement and revision. Back in July, I thought I was ready for beta readers. However, one of the first comments I got from an experienced writer was that my characters were all flat. I was horrified, because most of the point of the story is to explore how the characters change. It turned out that the section he was reviewing was particularly bad, but there were situations where feelings were not adequately explored throughout the work. I ended up restructuring the story, starting at a different point. I think it is much improved.

The detailed revision process has also been interesting. I learned a lot more about grammar and style. I spent a lot of time working to tighten the language and improve wording. That's particularly true of the introduction.

I'm releasing the story serially. Even now, I'm making one last fine tuning pass over the parts not yet released.

Response So Far

So far people seem to like it. A lot of readers who start go on past the first chapter. I've seen a lot of interest in earlier stories in the series, even though Lovers Shadow stands on its own. I'd love to hear what people think.

As always, pointers to my stories are here.

The last month has been very full, and I wanted to write about all the things going on in the background.

First, a correction to my last blog post. A Reader pointed out that my closing could be read to imply that I took it hard when someone declined to use BDSM as a path to growth. I've tried to correct the text as I see where that reading came from. My disappointment is when people choose not to find some path to growth, whatever path is right for them. It's also true that I do yearn to find people to more closely share parts of the journey with, but typically my reaction to seeing someone find a path to growth different than mine is joy and happiness.

Five Years around the Fire

This June, I was dancing around the fire and realized I had been dancing for 5 years, since June of 2011. I stood by the same lake where it all started, home in my community--my tribe. There was a break in the drumming and I began to speak. I told about how I came to that first fire those years ago. I felt at home; I felt like I had done this before. I wanted to dance; I asked if I could. It was "not recommended." I kept edging closer to the sand where the dancers danced. Soon, I found myself dancing, doing what I needed to do rather than what others told me I should do. I told how I found my goddess, my community, and how it changed my life.

Apparently that was what several people needed to hear. They came up after, and shared their stories of growth. It was good to hear that I had made a difference--that I had helped people.


The healing at Beltane was an important step, but I continue to struggle, filled with self doubt. I've been asked to help someone do some ritual work, asking Venus to help approach new skills of love. Approaching that has been hard: connecting with myself and connecting with Venus have all been difficult. Even preparing ritual space in my new apartment has been a challenge.

Finally, a few days ago, I tried to open myself. I'd dance, my mind drifting. I'd clear it, and some worry would re-enter. I'd clear again, and once more, some form of stress would intrude. Then, I began to be worried about being stressed. It's almost impossible to clear your mind when you're doubting even your ability to clear it.

I decided to grab a snack, return and see if I had more luck. I stood, a peach in my hand, prepared to bite into it. I remember at my second Fires of Venus asking someone who worked with Aphrodite how to offer to her. He talked about how she valued offerings of pleasure; even the pleasure of eating a peach can be offered to Aphrodite. So, rather than the three bites I planned, I slowly began to eat the peach, appreciating the juice, the flavor, and the texture between my teeth. I offered this to Venus.

"Ah! Finally," she said. "You're so stressed, so busy, that you don't even take the time to be happy."

As usual in such things, she was right. There are lots of wonderful things in my life right now; without a doubt I'm building my best of all possible worlds. However, I'm not there right now, and I'm frustrated at how slow I'm moving in some ways. She was right: even in my spiritual work, even when doing things I'm really proud of, the hustle, the struggle to do as much as I could got in the way of pleasure and happiness. It also gets in the way of being open to myself and open to connection.

"You're going to have to do ritual work to get to a place where you can plan the ritual."


She didn't bother to answer. By this point I ought to be able to put together such a ritual to help myself. After a few false starts, I had some ideas.

Since then I have gotten better at opening to pleasure, opening to her.


I'm at a point of transition. I'm starting to realize some important lacks in where I am. The love work is more important than ever. Every day, I learn of new incidents of hate, fear and disconnection. I don't know if my love work can make a difference, but it's the thing I have to give. Love is needed in the world like at no point previously in my life. I listen and it feels like I'm trying to sell last century's fashion as I strugle to find a way to interest a world ever-more-fixed-on-hate in the power of love. Yet, I know I've made differences to individuals, made differences in small communities. I know those differences ripple, and those differences are what I have to offer until I find some better approach.

So, I began to gain clarity in what I'm missing, or at least what I hope for. Soon, I suspect I will begin to approach how I would manifest those hopes.


I've finished a first draft of Lover's Shadow, my first novel-length fiction. I think there's a lot to be proud of in what I've written. I think it is more accessible than my writing hear, but explores important messages about how we might approach each other with love and openness across gulfs of disagreement and fear.


I've even found an editor to help me edit it. He's new to editing just as I'm new to writing. However, he has promise and dedication. He has the kind of detail focus I need. He started by jumping into working with me to revise my most challenging story, a monologue filled with idiom, some of it fabricated from my imagination. His approach is effective, and while I'm smarting from some of the criticism, it's exactly what I need to hear in order to grow.

I think I will have things to offer myself. In my own way I'm good at grammar, usage and language, and it helps to have a community one can trust for those discussions. Also, just as he's giving me new things to think about, I think I've challenged him to think about new dimensions in writing.

Give Thanks; for there is much of joy afoot!

Life has been rough, but I'm doing better. A significant part of that was a healing ritual that happened at Beltane. I've written a narrative of that experience to share with the world. It's not really fiction: I've tried to capture as much of the experience as I could and share what I could within the limitations of memory and respect for the privacy of others.

I've written a lot about the vulnerability of being open. In writing about experimentation with water sports, BDSM and writing fiction, I've experienced that vulnerability most acutely, sharing that vulnerability as part of the experience.

While this was easier to write than those earlier posts, the vulnerability is deeper. When writing about water sports, the topic was so taboo that I kind of hid behind it. In talking about healing through BDSM, I never talked about what needed healing. The fiction, well, that was close to this level of vulnerability, but because it is fiction, I had some distance.

Here though, I try to invite the reader into my experience as deeply as I can. I do so at a time when I'm filled with doubt, when I'm being asked serious questions by those I care about. I hope to show how spirituality and BDSM can make a difference. I hope to also show the power of a community like Beltane and the primal arts tribe.

I expose a lot of myself. There's a lot that someone could use to try and hurt me.

More deeply, this all matters to me. I hope for understanding. "Hmm, let's talk about something else," is about as painful a response as a directed attack.

As I say, I hope people find whatever path is right for them. It's painful when people look and say effectively "yeah, I'm good thanks; that self growth and introspection sounds hard." Of course I honor that choice, but when the people near me choose not to find some path to growth, it is hard.

Finally, I do hope that others will join me. I hope out there, there will be people who find they wish to walk a similar path. Telling my story gives that wish teeth--both good and bad.

The story is titled Singing of the Chalice and the Lash. There's no sexual content, although there is explicit description of nudity and BDSM scenes.

For me, December is a time to contemplate sacrifice, the flip-side of love. "Demon Bride," my second story, is this year's offering in that contemplation.

I'm quite proud of my work. The erotic and narrative elements intertwine nicely. When I first read Passionate marriage, I remember feeling a little uncomfortable at the description of the "oral sex night." Dr. Schnarch described a moment where trying oral sex for the first time ended up being a pivotal moment in the relationship of a couple. At the time, I wondered why he needed to focus so much on a sexual event, scattering references to that experience throughout the rest of the book.

The answer is that sometimes a sexual interaction just is that important. The following summer, I masturbated for the first time in front of a large group--not coincidentally in a Venus ritual space. That erotic moment is also one of the key moments in the narrative of my life: I'm a person who has the self-confidence, courage, and comfort to do that kind of thing. I am able to step into a situation where that sexual openness is both welcome and sacred. Having faced the fear of doing that, many things seem insignificant in comparison. I still find myself referring to "the masturbation ritual."

I think my characters have found that. The narrative comes to a crux at the erotic moments. They will look back on their sexual experiences and see how in those few moments they grew and changed. I'm glad: venerating sexual expression as a first-class tool along our life journeys is an important goal I have.

Ultimately this is a story about trying to meet in the strength of love when our needs cannot be met. What do we do when we understand our lovers, they understand us, but there is no way we can meet our needs while helping them meet the needs they have conveyed. Do we turn away from each other with respect, honoring what we had as we go our separate ways? Do we find some way to change and grow honoring who we were while becoming someone who has different needs? Do we deny our own integrity or that of our lovers, turning away from our own needs or asking them to turn away from themselves?

It's also a story about sacrifice. The Lady Lucinda, Demon's Shadow (the title character) owes a lot to C.S. Friedman's Coldfire Trilogy. The magic and world are very different. However, like Friedman's Hunter, she is haunted by the choices she makes, facing the world across a chasm of understanding. As I've discussed when exploring love, sacrifice seems a necessary consequence of love. What is the right answer when we face the costs of our love? It's rarely obvious.

This is also a story about embracing our primal nature. I've taken joy around the ritual fire connecting with my animal nature, with fear, with the struggle to live, even with the darker aspects of the cycle of life. I'm pleased that I've found a way to bring that forward and share it. I think I've even learned and grown from the experience of that sharing.

At another level, I'm happy because writing is fun. I'm improving my verbal facility and wit. I'm enjoying greater facility as I drop myself into the minds of complex characters, watching them grow, change and sacrifice as words scrawl across the page. I'm finding that I have greater clarity in approaching empathy with unusual situations. One of the best parts is that embracing creativity breeds greater creative ability. I haven't found so much joy inside myself since I moved away from my parents' house and evenings jumping on a trampoline, lost in the meditation of physical movement while my mind wandered its inner scapes.

Give Thanks!

My skin feels flayed, and part of my soul has opened to the world. It's done, or at least started: I'm an author. Saturday, I pressed the submit for public reading button on my first story. A few hundred people have taken me up on the offer to read my work.

The vulnerability is intense: this compares to agreeding to lead the last Fires of Venus ritual, to accepting the mantle of priest, or to taking up the offices of Sacred Lover and Sacred Messenger.

The story is an erotic exploration of what it means to reject shame and embrace sexuality. It's my attempt to reclaim slut as a joyful openness to the moment rather than as a shameful brand condemning an openness to pleasure.

I do think I wrote some hot sex scenes, and I'm proud of that. However, one way I feel vulnerable is that to me, this is not "just erotica," whatever that might mean. The work I'm trying to do hear is as important to me as any writer opening themselves in hope that readers will find a slightly different, slightly broader way to see the world. So, I'm vulnerable to the work being dismissed as just porn.

I'm also nervous looking within the erotica community. Reading over the list of things that volunteer editors won't edit, I'm reminded how uncomfortable male homosexuality, the exploration of the taboo, the exploration of the very kinky, and the exploration of power dynamics make many people. I struggled trying to figure out whether to change the story and make it more accessible.

For me, this is much more than writing. I've had vivid worlds running around in my head, exploring other ways we might relate, and celebrating sexuality and our primal nature. I've always been afraid to share these. What if those I loved turned from me in fear and disgust? What if my fantasies became public and the reaction damaged my ability to be taken seriously as a priest working to learn and teach love. I remember after starting to do public Venus work telling a friend that while I sort of wanted to write porn, I never would because I had enough of an image problem without kinky things I had written getting out.

That was before Lovers Grove. How can I work with our clients and help them to take joy in whatever fantasies, they have no matter how dark, acknowledging their desires without shame? First I must face my own shame and proudly own my inner fantasies, even the parts that I acknowledge need to stay in the realm of the imaginary. Earlier when writing about the taboo I talked about how an experience can become a magical lever for self transformation. This story is such for me: by choosing to write it without holding back, I've chosen to be the Sacred Lover who can face his inner landscape with confidence and without shame. I can gain the strength to meet others and help them work past their shame. So, I have chosen to open myself and face all that. For me this story is no trivial matter.

On another level this is an offering to my gods. There's sure things to face both internally and externally with the idea that erotica can be a sacred offering. It can though, at least in my little corner. Venus at least has begun to show her hand and show the role she'd like to take in future writing.

The Lady Riding Atop is fully written and the first two chapters are available. The third chapter is ready to go. Chuck and I are exploring an interesting dialectic challenge in the fourth chapter. Once that is approached, I expect the final two chapters to be smoothe sailing. If you're interested in taking a look, there's a pointer here.