One of my favourite ways to write is ‘not in my bloody flat.’ In the flat, I get distracted by the washing up, the vacuuming, the million other things I feel I ought to be doing. When I wrote full-time, I would write at home until the middle of the day, then take my laptop to a nearby cafe, order a hot chocolate and write until half an hour before Mr. Temple was due home from work, then I would walk back home to be there when he got in.
I can’t do that so easily now, because I live in a small neighbourhood (in a big city) and I am . . . of not undistinctive appearance, so I don’t fancy being pegged as ‘that girl from the cafe who writes dirty stuff on her laptop. In public.’ (Fearing this kind of low-level shame comes as naturally to the Irish as breathing, and avoiding it is part of why I don’t ever plan to live in a proper small town again. At least in Dublin the people judging me don’t know my name).
But something happened last week. I was on the train for a couple of hours and found myself with nothing useful to do, so I opened up my laptop and worked for a while on a piece of utterly filthy writing. As ways to kill time on public transport go, this is unrivalled, and I was quite happily typing away until a cluster of loud drunk guys got on and took the bank of seats directly behind me.
They were wearing Christmas jumpers and Santa hats and antlers that lit up. All at the same time. Even over the sound of my headphones I could hear the hiss of cans opening and the clink of bottlecaps falling to the floor.
They sounded pretty harmless but they were loud. And bolshy. And determined to ensure that the entire carriage knew just how much they’d had to drink and how mad they intended going once they got to their destination, and that they had the biggest balls on the entire train.
They were sitting right behind me and I was working on one of the most explicit scenes between two women that I’ve ever written. If they’d glanced over and seen my screen, read even a line of what I was working on, I would have been (at best) slagged for a few dozen kilometres.
I didn’t give a flying fuck. I felt utterly invincible.
(Aside: what does a flying fuck look like? I’m picturing an unclothed tandem parachute jump with some sex added, and wishing I could draw, so that I could draw one and give it to my best friend for Christmas, with a card assuring her that I give a flying fuck. This is the kind of thing we find hilarious, which is why it’s lucky we met each other and don’t inflict our humour on the masses.
Oh, wait, this blog is public. Feck).
There is something about writing something taboo, something that blasts everything you were ever taught about being ‘good’ out of the water, that feels powerful. Guess what? I’m writing about sex workers. I’m writing about women. I’m writing erotica. I’m writing to self-publish. None of this was in the plan, and none of this is sanctioned by the Gods of Appropriate Behaviour that live in my brain (I can’t get rid of them – how do you evict a god who doesn’t want to go?). None of this will impress the literary establishment I’ve longed to impress since I was old enough to know one existed.
I’m writing this because I want to, and if one of the drunk guys on the train had started reading my work and slagged me about it, I would have said ‘Yes, I write porn. What do you do?’