FernWithy (fernwithy) wrote,

Adult writing


A few raised eyebrows, I'm guessing. FernWithy, doing "Adult writing"?

Confession time: I haven't written an explicit sex scene since I was a sophomore in college. That was when I was nineteen, so that's fifteen years. And I'm not going to do it now. I won't say I'll never do one--someday, a story may well call for one. It's not a moral stance, just an aesthetic one. I haven't found it necessary for any of my stories.

I've considered making myself write such a scene, to practice, like I do now and then with other kinds of action scenes. But unlike, say, a battle, I haven't found a place where an explicit sex scene was necessary to a plot I've been writing, and I really don't foresee a time when it will be. Romance doesn't interest me as a plot in and of itself, and that's really the only sort of plot where sex would be the climatic action scene of a piece.

And yet, I consider myself a fully "adult" writer. Lines of Descent goes into some pretty heavy thematic material about guilt and responsibility, and about the complex relationship between two good people who have caused one another pain. Father's Heart is about fighting inner darkness, and (again) about a complex relationship between two people who recognize the best and worst of themselves in one another. "The Doll Army" and "Your Very Own Dora" are about finding a sphere of power in a world of powerlessness, and making a peaceful sanctuary in a world of conflict. Family Portrait--as the title suggests--is about the nature of family, and the obligations and pleasures that come along with it. The Lady Vader stories are deeply political as well as concerned with the nature and power of love. I think that most of these could be read by children (I'd question chapter four of Lines of Descent, though as a child, I loved gory horror stories, so I shouldn't talk), but they are adult stories about adult concerns. A child reading them may read a somewhat different story than an adult, perhaps reading only the top level, or perhaps identifying with a different character. They may zero in on totally different scenes. That's okay--once it's out there in the world, people can take what they need from it, as far as I'm concerned. I know I do, with the books I read.

Some of what's taken may be sexual in nature. That's fine.

Where I get very irritated is in the near-exclusive meaning of the word "adult" to mean "sexual in nature." There's so much more to adulthood than that! The implication that anything not containing sex is somehow not really "adult" drives me to distraction. What about stories of the wisdom that comes with maturity? The transition from hero to mentor? Regrets? What about simply deeper layers of meaning than a child might ascribe to a piece? What about themes like duty and responsibility (concepts I always come back to in my own fiction), or the struggle between free will and destiny? These aren't things that most children have enough experience thinking about to really explore, and I think of them as the essence of fiction suitable for adults as well as children. And the best books are suitable for both.

I'm glad, actually, that fanfic doesn't use the "adult" euphemism quite as often as the rest of the world, often cheerfully identifying such stories as "smut." But I still see a tendency to say, "These aren't children's books... look at all the smut people make up from them!" And that bugs me. Harry Potter is a book series suitable for adults and children, not because everyone is shagging in the broom cupboard, but because it has depth. It has more to itself than meets the eye, and it can be delved more and more deeply as we gain insights into the world. Ergo, it's a perfectly suitable adult book. Star Wars is the same.

Can't "adult" be reclaimed to mean something more than, "Hey... there's gonna be sex"?

For today's fic rec, a rather adult piece -- :p. A Classic trilogy era "epilogue" to Father's Heart, in which Leia and Vader meet face to face for the last time, in Cloud City.

The Only Question
(Cover from TFN)

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