You’re reading How To Get Off, our series celebrating bodies, pleasure and fantasy.
I’ve always had a limitless imagination. In school I wrote poetry, short stories, comics, essays, and more. I was a performer too and, by all accounts, fairly confident in my penchant for the odd and alternative. In short, I was a bona fide ‘weirdo’ – but a shy one at that.
I’m naturally soft-spoken, and it’s hindered me a great deal in life: whether it’s as simple as a flushed face over having to repeat myself multiple times, or, even worse, the assumption I’m being outright ignored, not realising that the person whose attention I was trying to get simply couldn’t hear me. Oftentimes I prefer to just keep to myself rather than make an awkward at best and humiliating at worst attempt to be heard.
By the age of eighteen, I’d naturally begun to develop a healthy interest in sex. And then, on the evening of my eighteenth birthday, my interest in the world of fetish and BDSM was piqued when I visited my first goth club. This – coupled with my activity in a midnight shadow cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show – was my gateway into the kink lifestyle.
“I knew I wanted to explore deeper into the world of sex and fetish and discovering my own sexuality but I didn’t know how to go about it. I didn’t know how to ask for what I wanted.”
But where to begin? How could I express my curiosities and my desires in a healthy and dignified way? I knew I wanted to explore deeper into the world of sex and fetish and discovering my own sexuality but I didn’t know how to go about it. I didn’t know how to ask for what I wanted. That first night at the club I had to make a friend come with me to help speak to a dom with whom I was interested in playing – I was simply too scared to speak up for myself.
As I began to get curious about pornography and erotica, I found that not everything out there suited my unique tastes. Like many others, I was frustrated by the lack of content that catered to my particular desires, fetishes, and interests. I had begun to learn what turned me on and realised I needed to learn how to experience and practice it properly. The loneliness of silence was both deafening and defeating, and so I fell back on a talent that I was confident in: writing. And I found putting what I wanted into words came easily to me. In writing I found not only solace, but I finally began to find my voice.
I started with pieces ranging from shorts to novellas, even picking up some meagre ghostwriting work along the way. Honing my craft as a writer gave me a new insight into my own mind. “Write what you know,” as the saying goes. And so I did. I wrote what I knew, what I liked, and what I was curious about. I’d blush as I wrote scenes that depicted hardcore BDSM and dominant/submissive dynamics – things I’d always wanted to explore first-hand but had only seen in adult video clips. I’d clam up over female-on-female pairings, sweating as I put myself in the shoes of the characters I created, wondering what it would really feel like to step into such a situation. I knew that, ultimately, I was writing more for myself than I was for anyone else. It’s just lucky that what I wrote happened to resonate with a wider audience.
More than that, writing erotica gave me the confidence and self-awareness to share my thoughts and feelings with others. Indeed, I credit my writing for playing a large part in my gaining an understanding of my evolving sexual identity as a queer femme as well as a BDSM lifestyler. Every time I would finish a story and go back over it to edit, I’d find myself titillated by the worlds and scenarios that I’d created. More than just my curiosity had been piqued, and I felt inspired to reach out to partners and put my fantasies into action – finding along the way that I’d truly made an amazing self-discovery. It was incredibly liberating to finally be my true sexual self. Though it took some stumbling, awkwardness, and initial discomfort at expressing myself, my putting my fantasies into words was what led to them becoming a reality.
In my youth, I was an award-winning poet. If there was one thing I was confident about, it was my writing skills; however, I still cringe – to this day, even – at the thought of getting up in front of strangers and reading my words. That’s why I try to do it every chance I get. In the words of my hero, the immortal Carrie Fisher, “stay afraid but do it anyway”. I started submitting my work to websites and publishers and, to my delight, I became a published erotica author, and have even had my stories put in print and made into audiobooks. It’s a welcome surprise to see where my skills as a writer have taken me professionally, but no more than where they have taken me personally. Writing has helped my relationships with sexual and romantic partners to blossom and grow. Being able to share myself through the medium of writing has assisted with having conversations from which I’d ordinarily shy away. It has opened both my mind and my heart.
“Writing has helped to break me out of my sexual shell and it has given me the strength and courage to be out and proud”
I still get tongue-tied and flustered, but writing has never failed to help me say what I want or need to say – in fact, I regularly write erotic stories for one of my partners at their request. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that not only am I doing something that excites them but, in turn, I’m also helping myself express ideas I might otherwise be nervous to initiate on my own.
I’ve had years of sexual experience at this point in my life, I have gained a healthy sense of confidence as well as a better understanding of who I am as a sexual individual. It’s an emboldening feeling to have found my voice. Writing has helped to break me out of my sexual shell and it has given me the strength and courage to be out and proud in all aspects of myself and my life. Without my writing, I’d be silenced entirely. Everyone’s communication styles and love languages are different and I’m so glad to have found mine.
I will always speak quietly, but I can most certainly write out loud.
Deb Kavis is a writer, poet and journalist from Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter at @DebKavis.
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How To Get Off is our answer to Valentine’s Day, celebrating bodies, pleasure and fantasy – whatever your relationship status. We’ll be exploring what really gets us off in 2020, looking at sexual awakenings, toys and erotica, and real-life experience.