This post was first published at Erotica For All. I believe it communicates some of the many reasons why Anais Nin has been so important to my development as a sex writer:
When I’d first started writing erotica I thought there was something wrong with me. I’d been raised to believe sex was sinful, yet here I was in my early thirties entranced by explicit intimacy, and the more I read and wrote, the happier I felt. So why was I still ashamed?
Enter: Anais Nin.
Back then, I didn’t realise the author of Delta of Venus had written diaries – in fact she kept them for most of her life and many of the volumes deal with sex and writing. When I discovered these, I was particularly engrossed by the entries from 1932-1934, which are grouped together in the volume now published as Incest – here, Nin describes how she felt about her extramarital affairs, her creative process and the father who had left when she was a girl. As a woman in her thirties, she grew infatuated with her father, and when he proclaimed his ardour, she confessed her own. As I read Nin’s descriptions of their incestuous lovemaking, I was horrified and aroused. She seemed panicked by her father’s embraces, yet also intensely desirous.
What follows is an excerpt from Nin’s daring entries about the heated nights she spent with her father. As you’ll see, Nin’s diary was a place where she accepted herself entirely – such is the power of sexual introspection, I believe, if we’re bold enough to go there.
“‘Let me kiss your mouth.’ He put his arms around me. I hesitated. I was tortured by a complexity of feelings, wanting his mouth, yet afraid, feeling I was to kiss a brother, yet tempted—terrified and desirous. I was taut. He smiled and opened his mouth. We kissed, and that kiss unleashed a wave of desire. I was lying across his body and with my breast I felt his desire. I was lying across his body and with my breast I felt his desire, hard palpitating…” From Anais Nin’s Incest: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin 1932-34.
As many readers will know, Nin wrote essays and fiction too. In fact, the more I began to read, the more I fell in love. She saw life as a “creative work” – a story we can actively craft in order to free ourselves from society’s constraints. She reminds us that through art we transform ourselves while also connecting powerfully with others; and she saw desire and arousal as an important part of that. What a gutsy woman!
Not long after I’d discovered Nin’s Incest, I was invited to read my work at a literary event. I’d never shared my erotica in public before (and this was quite an edgy piece) but when people told me they’d been moved by my work, I began to understand: That’s what we do when we write honestly about sex – we learn to love our vulnerabilities, our longings, our needs, while helping others to love theirs. And we turn people on! What could be more giving?
To find out more about Anais Nin, check out the Anais Nin Blog published by Sky Blue Press.