Sharing My Writing Process

I don’t normally participate in blog hops. But when Janie Emaus invited me to share my writing process with you I couldn’t say no.

1. Why do I write what I do? The answer to why I write what I write might change on any given day. I’ve been writing since I first copied poems from A Child’s Garden of Verses into my handmade book. Through the years I journaled and wrote copious letters before settling into writing more ‘legitimate’ works. I process my feelings through writing–it’s on the page that I find answers and create new paths to awareness or ways to move forward. I can’t imagine not having access to pen and paper at all times. I keep a notepad in the bathroom, in my bedside table drawer, in my dressing room, the car, and at my desk. I’m more likely to jot down things on paper than on the various note apps on my devices.

2. What am I working on? I’m working on two projects right now, though honestly the memoir is languishing in a pile of assorted notebooks and documents. As I began to write about sexuality and aging here and for clients I began to develop the idea of a simple guide for midlife women on reconnecting with their sexual desire. That book is my prime focus right now. The other is alive in my mind, changing and growing with the passage of time. I scribble bits and pieces here and there as I can no longer count on my memory to retrieve those thoughts among all the other things crowding my mind.

3. How does my work differ from others of its genre? I don’t really know how to answer this one. The world of sex writing is broad. There is erotica, with many sub-genres, the ‘how-to’ category, the boastful Better Sex in 5 Days stuff, and all other matters of writing to stimulate, tease and educate. There is no rhyme or reason to what makes the cut. 50 Shades of Grey was a wildly successful e-book that is widely considered to be poorly written–and it’s heading to the movies! Anais Nin’s works are being republished. In between? Anything you can imagine and more. I fall into the educational section, at least for now. 

4. How does your writing process work? My freelance writing is very different from my personal writing. When I sit down to write for a client I have a topic and an angle. If the work is not about sexuality I’m typically writing from research notes, finding the points that enhance the story while trying to write in the style that suits my client’s needs.

When I write about sexuality, whether it is for my newest column as the Sexual Health Columnist for Midlife Boulevard or my previous gig with Better After 50, or one of the other places I write, often the words just flow. With research and references interspersed. The topic excites me, it inspires that part of me that wants to help women find their desires and passion, to live a healthier and sexier life. It’s really just that simple.

I write in the morning, when I feel more focused and productive. I write a quick first draft, edit, and then walk away or shift to another project. My next round of editing comes some hours later, maybe even the next day. It depends on the work. My computer in my kitchen, looking out over the back yard. I’m distractible and often find myself watching the birds, squirrels or deer meandering around in the yard. By  10 am the sun is streaming in over my right shoulder, making the computer screen difficult to see and beckoning me to abandon the work. When free writing or journaling, I sit in a chair overlooking the back yard with my notebook and bright red pen in hand; a cup of coffee near by.

My writing process differs from yours. Every writer has her quirks, her favorite seat, her rituals. We write with different motivations, a varied sense of urgency, moving towards individual goals. A good writing day for me is measured by that moment of inspiration–when the words flow and I get that sense of having “nailed it”. They don’t come often enough.

I was invited to join the #mywritingprocess project by Janie Emaus, a talented writer who has written in all sorts of venues during her career. You can find her work here. The assignment included sending you off to read another writer’s take on her process.

I want to introduce you to Lisa Froman, the author of Tao Flashes, A Woman’s Way to Navigating the Midlife Journey with Integrity, Harmony and Grace. A writer and poet, she has worked as a communications professional for more than 30 years. Lisa has received numerous honors and awards for her advertising, public relations and copy writing skills, and currently works as a senior writer for a Louisiana-based corporation.
In her free time, she blogs on inspirational and spiritual topics to support women, particularly those on the midlife journey. You can read Lisa’s blog here.
Her most recent essay, “When Shift Happens at Midlife,” was recently published in the book, The Zen of Midlife Mothering.

Q&A-How to Rekindle Sexual Desire

In my last article I spoke to a reader’s question about how to rekindle her sexual desire. I talked about steps she could take, on her own, to feel more interested in sex. Hopefully she’s tried some of my suggestions or, at the very least, thought about ways to reengage her mind and body sexually.

The mental component of feeling sexy, or sexual, is essential for women. Men too. We have to get beyond the automatic response of “I don’t want sex anymore” and find a way to build interest, and then desire. You do it as a solitary practice and you do it with a partner. 

The second step—moving towards exploring sex with a husband, partner or lover can be a little more complicated. You want to be able to trust that your partner (fill in with the preferred term) is willing to let you lead. The last thing you want is for him/her to rush forward eagerly pursuing sex if you’re not ready. 

If you’re ready to experiment sexually, to see if you will feel some arousal, you can decide if you want to go for full sexual contact or something else. Maybe you’d like to receive a non-erotic massage or a full body embrace. Would you like to be caressed first and see how that feels?   

 You get to decide what you want to happen in this first encounter. And to communicate that, clearly and truthfully. For example, “I want to see what it feels like to have you touch me, but I’m not sure how far I want to go. So, I may ask you to stop if I change my mind.” 

Each of you may have different ideas about what you want to happen in this first encounter. Some therapists advise planning a romantic sexy interlude and going right into having sex. Others suggest more ‘neutral’ ways of connecting with a partner to gradually ease you back into intimacy. You are the only one who knows what might work for you.

However, there are a few things to consider as you talk with your partner about trying sex again: 

  • Have a positive attitude about this. You have to want to be intimate with your partner. Do not force yourself or feel pressured.
  • Take a little time to think yourself into sexy. Or as I wrote in an earlier post, step into your sexual desire
  • Take charge of your sexual desire. Don’t expect your partner to make it happen. Don’t assume that he or she will know what you need or know when to stop. You have to play the lead role and tell, or show, that person what you want. Your partner may be just as nervous about this as you are. This is where my earlier recommendations come into play. If you’ve taken the time to do some self-pleasuring and getting reacquainted with your body then you have a better idea of what will turn you on.  
  • Don’t set a goal or have unrealistic expectations. Your goal is to be present to the sensations in your body. Be open to whatever happens—orgasm or not. Each step forward is another step to creating the kind of sexual relationship you want to have.

 

These are my thoughts and recommendations based on personal experience and study.  I am not a sex therapist, so keep that in mind. But I do believe that we have the ability to think ourselves into pleasure. 

 Image from morgueFile

Q&A-Help, I’ve Lost My Sexual Desire

sexuality, loss of desire, medication, libidoI got a question today from a woman who is on a medication that has taken away her sexual desire. As she says, “zero, zip, nada, nothing.”

So, I’m going to tackle this topic delicately because I don’t want to diminish the validity of this woman’s feelings. And, let me acknowledge right now that I can’t put myself in her head or really know how my suggestions might work for her. But it’s worth a try if she’s willing to experiment and her husband understands that she gets to call a halt if it’s not working out.

Dear Reader,

It sounds like you and your husband are having an open conversation about your loss of interest in sex. That’s wonderful! You care about him and you want to satisfy him and that’s great. But, don’t do that if you’re going to resent him or find yourself growing more distant in the process (not that you’ve indicated anything like that). 

In my experience much of desire is a mental process. We have to think about sex and visualize our bodies being aroused. As with many things in life, the more we think positively about it, the more likely we are to genuinely slip into those feelings. Just like we force ourselves to get dressed on those days we’d rather stay in pjs. Or going to a party we’re dreading–we get all dolled up and put on our happy face and find that the party turns out to be a lot fun! We make an effort and give it a little time, knowing we can leave at any point.

I’m currently writing a book about finding and cultivating our desire, after hearing from so many women who feel disconnected from their bodies. One of my suggestions is to begin a sensuous self-care practice to awaken your body. You start by surrounding yourself with the little things that activate your senses-silky body creams, food that melts on the tongue, aromas… You practice creating and experiencing pleasure,  gradually expanding to the sexual. Caressing your own body in the shower, getting a massage, reading erotica. And, keep going. Get out the coconut oil and get to know your body all over again. Don’t expect to feel waves of desire, don’t push for the orgasm. Explore your genitals- get to know your clitoris, the feeling of fingers gliding across the delicate inner thighs, your labia. What feels nice? Do you like light pressure or a firmer touch. Is your skin tingling? Breathe deeply and relax. Enjoy this and consider it a form of meditation if you will. The goal is to strengthen the pathways that lead to sexual desire.  Three minutes, twenty minutes…whatever you can tolerate at first. No pressure, no expectations. 

I could go on but this is enough to process for now.  The next steps involve bringing your husband into the practice with you. The two of you would plan to add in a little physical contact depending on what you’re up for. It might be as simple as cuddling on the sofa or something more intimate like lying in an embrace in bed. You might try taking a shower together and washing each other.  It will depend on your comfort level and how willing you are to be vulnerable. We’ll talk more about this in my next article. 

I want to applaud you for talking about this with me and for taking steps to recapture the sexual desire you experienced in the past.  

Dear Husband,

Accept that she’s trying and be open to exploring this slowly with her.   She cares about pleasing you and that’s a wonderful thing for your relationship.  It must be difficult for you to understand what’s happening; she feels the same way. As challenging as it is when you feel desire and she doesn’t, try to accept the level of intimacy that she can give now without expectations. If a foot massage is what she needs to feel connected, go with it. The bigger problems tend to arise when couples stop touching completely.

~

When sexual desire diminishes it affects both partners. It has an impact on our relationships, our energy, our sense of well-being and our femininity. I do believe it is possible to rekindle sexual desire, but I can’t promise that it’s as easy as I’ve made it sound. 

Take your time. Give yourself permission to feel uninterested if that feeling arises. Give yourself permission to play and explore. You are already open to the possibility of change and that’s the first step. Now go turn on some hip rocking music, close the curtains and let your body feel the music.

Walker 

Comments are welcome but please don’t “tell” her what she should do. We each have to find our own way-suggestions or tips that work for you are welcome. 

Aging and Sexuality-These Grannies Are Strutting Their Stuff

aging and sexuality, Edwin OlafThis series of mature women posing in classic pin-up shots from an earlier time popped up on Nerve.com recently. I posted it on my Facebook page and in a group composed of women around my age. It struck a nerve. 

Here’s what the introduction to the photos said, “Hoping to crush the stereotypical idea that sex appeal lies with youth, these 10 aging models took on classic pin-up poses for Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf‘s series, ‘Mature.’ Wearing skimpy lingerie, the septuagenarians truly embraced their age and owned their bodies’ matured sexuality by displaying the features they’re most fond of after all these years.”

As I see it, the photo shoot was as much about looking at society’s concept of sexuality as it was expressing the idea that we can continue to feel and be sexual beings despite our age. The comments I received ranged from enthusiastic support to disdain that we still connect ‘sexy’ with semi-naked bodies. Some of us focused on the ability to see and experience aging in all it’s glory-wrinkles, sags and all. Others pointed out that sexy isn’t about the body–it’s about who we are, our relationship to ourself and our partners. And, there was a bit of an “enough already” feeling in there as well. 

I see this photo shoot as a way of reminding us that the images we see today are not real. They are enhanced images of women that hold out some artificial notion of “sexy”. So much so we’ve come to associate the idea of being and looking sexy with perfectly round breasts and satiny smooth blemish free skin–with oh so delectable curves. Olaf, the photographer of this photo shoot, brought us real images of real women. Women displaying poise and guts.  Women who possess enough confidence and comfort with their bodies to pose in alluring, daring outfits. 

One woman, in my group, commented that as we age sexy becomes more about who we are rather than how we look. I see her point. But, shouldn’t sexy always be about who we are, how we feel and how we choose to act? If we hold to a notion that only the youthful and beautiful get to show off their sexiness it serves to negate the rest of us. Can we be 25 lbs overweight, saggy and not gorgeous and still be sexy? What about all the women who don’t get to be in the Sports Illustrated bathing suit edition? Or those of us classified as “Old”? Are they not sexy in their own right? The people in wheelchairs? Those with other disabilities-physical, emotional, intellectual. Do they have sexiness, or sexual desires?

We have to get past the sexy images and get to the essence of what makes a person feel sexy. Or feel sexual. It’s not about looks or red high heels and push up bras. It’s not about enhanced bustlines. And, maybe we need to drop the word ‘sexy’ all together. 

aging and sexuality

“I don’t see sexy as something to turn on or off. I see it as something that broadens in meaning.” From one of the women in the conversation.

 It’s clear to me that within a group of individuals there will always be a range of opinions. When the topic is SEX, personal feelings and experiences come into play and shape our responses. Sexy to me is going to be different from your definition and experiences. It’s that diversity that keeps the conversation going.

Do you see that photo shoot as being all about “sexy”?