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.