When I was living in Los Angeles and was desperately trying to figure out how to make my writing a more central part of my life, I decided I was going to write soft core porn and romance novels to publish on the internet. I thought there was always going to be a brisk market for these genres: it would be easier to publish dirty stories. I also recognized my weakness as a writer had consistently been constructing new and interesting plots, a skill which seemed less necessary in the romance/soft core genres than it might be in other literary realms.
When I sat down to write my first dirty story, I realized I was going to have the same problem with writing romances as I did my regular fiction writing: I was supposed to write what I knew. Or at least base my writings off of kernels of my actual experience. In my college creative writing classes I had been stymied by the recurring chant of “write what you know” only to have my creative writing professors tell me they were sick of reading about the same experiences and situations time and again. My range was limited because I had only been alive a limited amount of time. I was unsure how to fix this problem.
My sexual experiences up until this point were not something anyone would dare base a fantasy on. I sat at the keyboard in the front room of the Pasadena bungalow I shared with my two roommates at the time and considered what I had to draw from.
With the first few women I fooled around with as a lesbian, I mortified myself each time by having the tendency to get off too quickly: I would blow my wad just minutes into a hot and heavy make out session. Climax would overtake me so quickly I felt powerless to stop it, like an animal tied to the tracks in front of a bullet train: orgasms would rip through me despite my struggling to slow them down. I would do everything to hide this uh, shortcoming, from my partners, trying desperately to cloak all indications it had happened and also trying to remain focused on their pleasure.
I came “too early” one of the first times Joe and I fooled around in college. When I told him years later, he was shocked, “Why did you feel like you would need to hide something like that from me?” As I fumbled for an answer, Joe injected, “I think that’s hot.” I was surprised at this reaction. Instead of feeling like I had cheated my partner out of something, I should have considered how it might make them feel especially masterful and desired.
If I had realized at the time I was going to get to grow up and be a dude, I would also have felt a bit better about the whole situation: going off “half-cocked” (har har) is a problem society expects young men to have to deal with. It was not something I had been prepared to have happen to me.
My other Casanova-related issue was even more centrally related to my pre-transition sexual identity: I knew I was attracted to men just as well as women. I was frequently attracted to gay men. And not in the stupid way some people think: I wasn’t attracted to gay men because they were more sensitive than straight men or because they spent more time attaining perfect bodies: I was attracted to gay men because I wanted one to bend me over and fuck me like a man. And, particularly pre-transition, this was not a service most gay men I was attracted to were willing to provide.
And because gay men were not willing to provide this service, I would occasionally get drunk enough to try to fool around with a straight guy. This would end quickly when the straight guy would begin to touch my body like I was a straight woman: it felt ridiculously wrong. A few times, around the same moment I might have come too early with non-straight male partners, I would start to laugh. I was laughing at myself, at how impossible it was to figure out how sex was supposed to work, but as one might imagine, more than one man took it personally. These encounters would end quickly, both of us walking away confused, unsatisfied.
With these two main themes at my disposal, the goal of becoming a smut writer seemed impossible. Feeling defeated before I had even begun to compete, rested my head on the base of my keyboard, sighing into our cheap, plywood desk a sigh of repressed frustration.
James Siegel writes creative nonfiction about being queer, loving coffee, and family drama/trauma. He has a degree in English from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Rutgers University. He is a CPA by day, an aspiring writer by night, and always feels lucky to be able to share his writing.
This issue of Chelsea Station was co-edited by
Mitch Kellaway, AJ Sass, and Noah Grabeel.