Friday, August 14, 2009

The Audience Is Listening

...and getting rightfully impatient. Sorry to keep you waiting for August's first post. It seems that every time I was going to sit down and write it, something unexpected came up that had to be taken care of first. And no, in case you are wondering: my newfound Klingon mate is not to blame for the delays (this time at least). I simply had a lot of job work to do.

However, speaking of Klingon mates, let's get to the title subject of today's little essay: I'm glad you all liked "Where No Man Has Spanked Before" from two weeks ago. At a whopping 3,400 words, it was hopefully nutritious enough to get most of you over the subsequent break without crippling withdrawal symptoms. And, needless to say, the post was unusual in other aspects, too! I certainly wrestled with it for a long time, even more than is reflected in the sheer size. I wanted to get it just right, just perfect. Mind you, I approach all my writing with a fair bit of perfectionism, even the n-th movie review. But I don't need to tell you that this was something else entirely. So, it was a very happy post to make, but also a somewhat daunting one.

I think that all of us who write, no matter how skilled, perceptive or eloquent we are, know these times only too well, when we feel unable to find the right words. It is a frequent struggle, and the closer a subject is to our heart, the more we struggle to describe it. How do you describe a person, anyway? What someone is like, your impressions, your feelings about them? Even when you are not dealing with loved ones, even when it concerns more mundane relationships, it's a pretty difficult task.

Let's say you are asked to describe a friend you know from your school days, to another friend of yours, and they've never met or heard anything about each other. What most of us do is, we resort to giving a series of adjectives. They might be physical attributes, personality traits, little biographical things... What someone does nowadays, where they came from, likes and dislikes they have, hobbies and quirks... Usually a combination of all that. Piece by piece, these attributes are supposed to form a picture of the person, like adding dots on a canvas. Or, you can look at it from the opposite angle, as a process of elimination: while each of these attributes is shared by countless people ("tall", "dark-haired", "grew up in Montana"...), you narrow the group down with each additional one, until you get a combination of attributes that really singles out this one particular individual. Not necessarily in the world, but probably among your acquaintances.

We don't usually do this consciously, of course, but I think it's a reasonably accurate description of what most of us tend to do in effect, in practice, most of the time. It just seems like the natural approach. I thought about it, too, while I was writing "Where No Man Has Spanked Before". After the opening and the buildup, how Kaelah and I first got in touch with each other, how we started writing mails et cetera, after I get past all that, how do I really describe her as a person? How do I introduce my girlfriend to you, what she's like, what I love about her, why she is special to me? I could have given you a whole string of attributes, and I did in fact give you quite a few over the course of the story: smart, courageous, thoughtful, witty, similar sense of humour to mine, similar likes and dislikes, her openness, her clarity of purpose, a certain shyness, an even greater, quiet confidence... Kaelah is all that and more. But can a list like that ever capture the essence of a person, or express the essence of your feelings towards that person? I don't think so.

So, instead of going overboard on adjectives, I decided to just describe the events, what happened, what we did, and let that speak for itself. I've done it before in my movie shoot reports. The subject matter may be totally, utterly different - you probably can't find two more disparate posts of mine, in terms of general vibe, than Kaelah's introduction on the one hand and Part IV of the Hostel Trilogy: Communion on the other! But the tactic behind the writing wasn't really fundamentally different. When you look at the four-part report on Mood, for instance, a lot of it is really just a series of anecdotes. Anecdotes which are, hopefully, interesting in their own right. But the real aim there is not just to tell a bunch of funny little stories, it is to try and capture, through them, the essence of the whole experience. For me, that works much better than writing "okay, I'll tell you how I felt". Or rather, it works best when I use the two in combination: the anecdotes, and the introspection.

That is why, among other things, I put in how I first thought, after the Global Day of Delurk, that "K'Ehleyr" is a German-Turkish guy. In one way, it's just an amusing detail and arguably doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. But in another, it expresses much more than that - capturing, at least in my mind, a bit of the essence of how Kaelah and I met, how we first became aware of each other's existence over the internet, the incredible luck, the beauty of it all. It also captures, along with the rest of the story, how your image of someone changes and evolves over time as you get closer and learn more about each other. How you are interested at first, then intrigued, then in love...

So, in the end, I tried to treat "Where No Man Has Spanked Before" like any other post. Kaelah gave me much the same advice when I mentioned my struggles to her: "Just write down what happened." Don't worry too much about the elusive perfect wording or the elusive adjectives. It wasn't any other post, of course, but I could pretend that it was, and it worked surprisingly well. When I finally tackled it, the post basically wrote itself. Long and arduous gestation period, easy birth.

Considering the overwhelmingly positive response, all the "cute" and "sweet" and "aaaaww" comments, it seems that I didn't fail too badly at finding the right words after all. And yeah, I'm happy that the post shows a cuter side of me, one that had perhaps been getting obstructed a bit in recent months. Now, in addition to the sadistic Mood / Lupus top who loves nothing more than to see girls writhing under his cane, there is a glimpse of the other side again, and you have a more complete portrayal. If you happen to be wondering how the two fit together, though, I can't help you with that. I haven't figured that one out myself yet!

(Actually, I do have some pretty elaborate theories as usual, but they belong in a post of their own. Or a whole series of posts...)

As Karl Friedrich Gauss observed in his comment: "Looks like the start of a whole new era." I suppose it is, not just in terms of what is happening in my life, but also in terms of what I write about here. I'm still pondering how and where the two belong together, exactly. I mean, look, when I first started this blog in January 2008, my idea was to keep myself out of the picture as much as possible. I really saw myself as an observer rather than an actor, as someone who writes about others rather than himself. Those are my main strengths, I thought, writing and theorising. So I'll do philosophical ramblings, I'll do movie critiques... Things of that nature.

Of course, it wasn't going to work then just as it isn't going to work now, because this is a kinky blog where by definition, one is talking about highly personal, intimate things - even when it is supposedly "third person" content like movie reviews. And the brilliant original plan got diluted rather quickly by doing free video clips, doing a couple of professional shoots, doing public football bets... Before I know it, I'm a minor celebrity in my own right.

Flattering as that may be for my exhibitionist streak, which I suppose must exist somewhere (or I wouldn't be doing all this crap in the first place), there is also a part of me that remains quite uncomfortable about being in the spotlight like this. It isn't shyness as much as the fact that I just keep wondering: how interesting is it, really? My writing, my reviews and stuff, sure. The things I sometimes do, like going to a shoot, sure! But me, my personal life? Not at all. I'm basically a monk, I read books all day. And I'm happy like that. But the point is, there simply isn't much to report about it!

Or rather, there wasn't much to report - here's another thing Kaelah changed, as I suddenly find myself with an eventful personal life now. It's a weird feeling, I tell you. Especially as it makes me even happier than the cloister once did. So, now that she has wiped out the last main excuse I had for not writing about myself, I look forward to more interesting balancing issues between my exhibitionist streak and my guarded streak. And while I'm sorting that conundrum out, I'll continue to inadvertently drag this once innocent girl down into the glitzy depths of spanking porn stardom like a millstone around her neck (or like a boot on her back, if you want a kinkier metaphor). How fortunate for her that she met me.

But seriously, and obviously, I really am looking forward to having more about us on the blog. Of course, there will be some questions on my mind, especially in the beginning, about what to include, what not to include, what is interesting and what is perhaps less so from a kinky blogging perspective. Most of all, the question of finding the right words, again. I'll have a new challenge as a writer. At the same time, Kaelah is going to write her own monthly column, which will be another injection of new lifeblood. It'll be exciting for sure, and that's before telling you about the other pet projects we already have in the works...

For today, though, I'm looking back rather than forward. When I think about how I found Kaelah (how she found me, actually!) and about how I now write about it, I am reminded once again of this strange relationship we have among bloggers and readers, among all of us in this virtual kinky community. The dichotomy of it: here we are, sharing all these intimate, intensely private fantasies and fetishes. With many of us, it is stuff that even our closest (vanilla) friends and family don't know about. And yet, in another way, we are the proverbial perfect strangers. A few of us meet, once in a while, in the real world. But most of us don't. A few of us are reckless (or safe) enough to show our faces on the web. But most bloggers manifest themselves as disembodied voices - or rather, disembodied writing. The same goes for the readers, if they leave comments at all. Most of the 1,134 unique visitors I had on average, per day, over the last month remain just that, a statistic on the hit counter. And no real names ever, of course!

I'm not saying that this is a sad state of affairs. That is not my point at all. No, it's great to have this virtual community, and I certainly can't complain about a lack of communication. If anything, I have trouble keeping up with all the blogs I like, and even with "only" a few dozen among my readers ever making themselves heard, my mailbox frequently fills up to the brim. But it is quite an intriguing combination, the intimacy and the semi-anonymous distance of it all. Moreover, there is a romanticism in all the pseudonyms and the "dressing up".

Remember the illustration of the Venetian mask ball I used last year on delurk day? That is exactly what I'm talking about. And now look at what came out of that day for Kaelah and me. I can't think of a more striking illustration of what can happen when you take the plunge, take off the mask and reveal yourself to someone. When you write a blog, or a forum post, or an email. You might not meet your future girlfriend or boyfriend. But what about friends for life, or what about good penpals? Personally, I've met all three through this community. And I wasn't even looking, really. I just did my own bit of delurking one day, not many years ago, and everything that followed was a series of unplanned happy accidents. Not utterly improbable accidents, though. They do happen.

If I wanted to convey anything with "Where No Man Has Spanked Before", it was this. Sure, I was excited to share the news with you, and I appreciate the comments wishing Kaelah and me well. But beyond the purely selfish indulgence, I hoped that the post would send, in its own small way, a more general, reassuring reminder: sometimes, good things happen. Even to solitary monks and geeky Klingon warriors - and therefore, potentially to everyone.


Jealous Ex said...

Oh Ludwig, Sweet Ludwig,
You're back!
Your prose warms my jealous heart.
In the world of BDSM blog writers- you are truly a pearl among swine. Your writing is simply the best there is!(albeit a tad loquacious at times!:)
I guess many of us are really addicted.
I would love to read more on your theories of the origins of the BDSM impulse in otherwise healthy, compassionate people like many of us.
Thanks again for everything.
-Jealous Ex

PS I presume you saw the intended irony and humour in my previous snippy posts.

Karl Friedrich Gauss said...


Nice followup post. Perhaps Abelard also liked to read books all day until Heloise came into his life.

! said...

I agree with Karl Friedrich Gauss, that this was a very nice follow-up post. Certainly enough to keep me going until the end of August; however, another post in mid-August would be nice =P

I DO think that your relationship with Kaelah is a small symbol of the good things that can come out of internet communities and blogging. I just wish it could happen more often. In any case, the two of you have something good going here.

Keep up the blogging!

urs0us said...

Intresting to read about your thoughts when you wrote what is for me one of the best (or the best?) of your posts. A very good follow up indeed.

As for me "Where No Man Has Spanked Before" encouraged me to delurk myself and to leave comments on blogs and participate on forums and spanking groups. Thank you for that too!

Ludwig said...

Jealous Ex: Cheers. I don't think that my writing is the best there is in the world of BDSM blogs - there are plenty of better candidates for that distinction, like Pandora Blake, Abel and Haron from The Spanking Writers, and others. I do agree that it's pretty damn good, though, and it sure is nice of you to say so!

And yes, of course I saw the humour in your previous comments, and I assume you saw the one in my reply. You housefly, you!

"I would love to read more on your theories of the origins of the BDSM impulse in otherwise healthy, compassionate people like many of us."

I have a follow-up to my two "Mark of Cain" posts from last year in the works, and have had it in the works for ages. But it's a complex subject and I simply haven't been able to finish it so far. Once I get the Lupus behind-the-scenes report and other current topics out of the way, though, "Mark III" is definitely on the top of my list.

I know what you mean by it, but I think "otherwise healthy people" is a somewhat unfortunate choice of words, because it implies that the kinky impulse is in some way unhealthy - and I really think it isn't, at all. This, the question "Is sadism / masochism a disorder?", will be a subject of the post(s) I'm planning, by the way.

Karl Friedrich Gauss: I haven't thought about Kaelah's and my relationship in terms of Abelard and Heloise yet. It certainly is an interesting analogy, but hopefully not a harbinger of things to come - I don't have a castration fetish, and I don't think Kaelah is keen on becoming a nun, either!

Rachel: Worry not, there will be more posts before the end of August. I still plan to meet my usual quota for a month, actually, so there will be some rather quick ones now.

urs0us: You're welcome indeed. If "Where No Man Has Spanked Before" helped to encourage you to delurk, then that in itself means the post was worth writing. So, I'm the one who should be thankful, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Your blog expands and your writing too. I tend not to comment, the occasional well done, but not because I want to hide an interest.