SAD OLD PORN

I’m working on my fourth novel and I’ve been researching pornography on the Internet, because in my book – believe it or not – there might be a scene where a character participates in a jolly romp with several other willing people. I have no idea how to write sex with some sense of authenticity. I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey, or as they call it my neck of the woods, Fifty Shades of Sheep and I haven’t ever felt the need to type the word ‘porn’ into google, although I’m sure others have. I’ve lived a peaceful life, so far. My research started by sipping a glass of wine and explaining to my man I was to be left undisturbed for an hour as I was working on the plot of the new book. Busy watching the rugby on TV, he nodded and reached for the extra-large bag of cheese and onion crisps. He’s okay, I thought. I didn’t consider I might not be.

It took about half a second to track the stuff down. After ten minutes of staring at the screen with my mouth open, I felt as if I was in a war zone. I have never seen so much bare flesh and blushing orifices since I was encouraged to look in a mirror in the delivery room so I could see one of my kids emerging into the world. Seriously, I couldn’t make out what bit was attached to which, or if they were they actually human beings? I decided to plough on. The second site was geared to women. Described as ‘arty’ porn, it was marginally better, as the couples did seem to be looking at each other…

After awhile, I became seriously bored. One tumescent appendage is much like another. They may vary in size, speed of action and colour, but seen one, seen ’em all.  And as for the lady’s under carriages, now I know how my gynecologist feels when he’s waiting to see woman patient number 100 for an examination on her front bottom. My nether-land looks nothing like those working out in the movie, with either a pretend willy that wiggles like a demented snake or a chap who needs to see a surgeon pronto, as there is something definitely amiss with his wedding tackle – have you ever seen a set of testicles that look like over-ripe aubergines? Moussaka will never taste the same again.

Porn on the net is not very gripping – sorry about the pun – although millions tune in every day. It has a mechanical edge to it, like watching old tractors ploughing weedy fields. And the facial expression, the grunts and groans; all a bit over-done, if you ask me. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to perform in one of those movies.

My third attempt was much more disturbing. Easily accessible with one click of the mouse, I was faced with a bevy of girls who looked young, and I mean very young. I was so shocked. If you have teen-age daughters, seeing that stuff would make you furious. It certainly had that reaction on me. Society is full of hypocrisy, and never more so when it comes to sex and porn. But now, it’s out there. Anything you want, 24/7. It’s truly scary.

So who are these people who are happy to strip off in front of a camera and have sex with strangers? I guess they are ordinary people, like you and me? I suspect the women show up in the morning, wearing jeans and t-shirt, and after a nice hot cuppa, strip down to their M&S underwear. The male or female co-stars saunter in, looking like over-developed navvies with tattoos all over their arms and hair on their bums or more perfect size 8 models.  They probably shake hands or say hi while the director places the flesh in the right alignment and adjusts the lighting in case any spots or pustules, floppy bits or greenish sheens show up. Can she look him in the eye? Can he perform the wicked deed as nonchalantly if he were planting cabbages or drilling for oil? I guess so, if a big fat cheque is the outcome.

Another issue that gets to me is the way the women have no hair anywhere and not a single stretch mark AND they have perfect nails and feet! How do they do it? We’ve all have a few corns on our toes, a couple of warts and a tide mark here and there. I certainly was never shaven from top to – bottom. I always thought pubic hair made men happy and got women singing : “You Make Me Feel Like A Nat-u-ral WOOMAAN”  after an eye-full. Not so, these days.

I live in the country and today, walking my dog, I stopped by three very pink lady pigs that live happily in the mud of a farm pigsty. I don’t know how they do it, but they always look quite clean and they look vaguely familiar. Something about the way the only visible hair you could see was up their snouts, the fact they were so smooth and pink, with their little bottoms and their curly tails available to any old bore…

The people who work in porn get paid, and it must be lucrative, for I’m sure that cash is the driving force in all this. Are they totally detached from what they are doing? Unless you looked for specifics, the participants are usually young and resemble models and so do the blokes. Your man in the street has a hard time matching an ordinary women to the picture he will hold in his mind after watching this type of porn. Nothing less that perfection will do, I guess?

The playwright Bertolt Brecht couldn’t have known when he named a particular technique for actors – ‘alienation’ –  that it might be applied to porn acting. I can hear him spinning in his box. The Encyclopedia Britannica explains ‘alienation’ like this: 

“It involves the use of techniques designed to distance the audience from emotional involvement in the play through jolting reminders of the artificiality of the theatrical performance. 

Examples of such techniques include explanatory captions or illustrations projected on a screen; actors stepping out of character to lecture, summarize, or sing songs; and stage designs that do not represent any locality…”

Well, the first bit is right. There is certainly no emotional involvement when you watch porn. Artificiality is the name of the game, Bertolt.  A couple of verses of Don’t Put Your Daughter on the Stage, Mrs Worthington might brighten up your experience of watching Tatoo Man and Funny Fanny Lady going at it like a nodding donkey in an oil field. If one of them stopped for a moment to address the viewer, perhaps with a little recipe for Victoria Sponge Cake, or gave you a couple of tips on cleaning out your flue (pun? sorry) it might add a bit of sparkle to whole debacle.

Victoria Sponge cake with cream and a strawber...

As for me, in the spirit of truthful research, I spent a whole precious afternoon trawling through the world of Internet porn  and it felt like a chunk of my life had been stolen. I’m no prude, so why was I bored witless? Did I wonder why people part with their money to watch such appalling films, where the artistic merit and creative input is as innovative as watching jelly and bananas slide off a plate and hit the
linoleum in a slipperly, soggy mess? Yes, I did.  Would I do it again? No. Am I a compassionate and caring commentator when it comes to those poor suckers doing it to make a living? Well, I have to say, I am. It must be an awful job. After all, if you are a woman you are competing with a male fantasy you can never live up to and if you are a chap, God help you…

Ho Hum. I will have to draw on my imagination for the scene in my novel, which I can tell you, is a darn sight more exciting than watching Hot Bazookers, Tatoo Ted and Funny Fanny humping their way through a days’ hard graft.

THE WRITING GAME

THE BLOG RESTAURANT

The 6am desk The 6am desk

If you are a writer, like me the early mornings may be your best time to work. As it’s springtime, the light is switched on at about five-thirty and the bird chorus gets into gear outside my window. Getting up takes huge amounts of willpower; even more in the winter. At least in the spring, I can open the window without risking frostbite. The small room I use faces the wrong way. All the sunshine pours into the kitchen, leaving my study dismal and devoid of sunbeams. I combat this with lots of colour, but at six in the morning, that’s slow torture for eyes. Pink is particularly cruel.

Three cups of coffee later – and now it’s eight o’clock – I turn on the computer and stare at yesterdays’ words. They look like rubbish today. The grammar reads like a Janet and John book (for those…

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UNDERSTANDING DEPRESSION

cropped-cropped-img_21373.jpgDepression is an illness. How many times have I read that sentence or heard some pundit on the radio or TV earnestly proffering advice, prefaced by those words. If someone you know has this illness, there are times when no matter how much you chide yourself for such thoughts, the word ‘illness’ is bypassed and all you see is someone you care about running rings around you with their behaviour. They can be morose, angry, unwilling to communicate, passionless, miserable to a degree and often give the impression that they are locked in a prison and have deliberately thrown away the key.

Professionals offer you empathetic words and you are grateful, but when someone you love is depressed, your world grinds to a halt, because their illness controls everything and if you are that person’s carer, floods you with feelings of inadequacy because it seems nothing you can do eases their pain. You are full of questions and guilt. Is it me? Have I set something off by saying this or that? Have I been a bad mother, wife, partner? Am I being punished? Is this just abuse? When will he/she get better?

Depression can be infectious. If you start to haul yourself over the hot coals of retribution, or become desperate to find a way to change someone back to the person they were before they became ill; if you allow yourself to be drawn into the sabotage this illness can inflict on others, you will become ill yourself. There is no doubt about that.

The stigma that still surrounds all forms of mental illness burns as brightly today as it did a hundred years ago. While we pay lip service to understanding the symptoms – they are shown in soap operas, in documentaries and feature films – people shy away from mental ill health. It is tinged with negative mystery, with a sense that it is something uncontrollable, that the slightest thing will make that fragile piece of kit – the mind, react  unpredictably and the men in white coats will be powerless to stop it. The media whip us into a frenzy of fear in their portrayal of people who are mentally ill. There is either an overload of sentimental syrup surrounding some suffering celebrity, or stories that sound like the script of a horror movie. We closed the asylums years ago. People live with illness in our communities every single day! Mental illness is just that – an illness.

People do improve with a mix of talking therapy and drugs, but who do you believe when you are trying to research medications and their side-effects or the impact the illness will have on children in the family, the lasting damage done to relationships, the sadness and loneliness, the sense that you are trapped and manipulated by the symptoms that can appear to be uncontrollable and overwhelm everything?

For the person with depression, they are often unaware of anything outside themselves. They can come across as supremely selfish. Their focus is on their demons, rushing around inside their head. Demanding thoughts become like a stuck record, reworking pictures of past abuses, procrastination and ruminations; chaos.   Sounds become muffled, other people’s feelings non-existent, speech and communication impossible. Depression makes people unreasonable and unreachable, losing touch with the reality around them, living in a bubble with you looking in from the outside. For a family, watching this change in someone they love can be terrifying.

This illness can be devastating for a family.  If you try to reason with it – it seems as if the person becomes their illness – you will go round in circles for hours. There is no resolution – ever. Depression may come in waves or it may be all-encompassing, the sufferer so unwell they have to be hospitalised. But even then, how many people really understand? He\she is just playing up. He/she is being difficult, is spoilt, needs to snap out of it, is making a fuss over nothing, is a pain in the arse! Yes, all those things may apply to their intrinsic personality, but someone who is well, will likely have insight into their behaviour and hopefully, modify it, if confronted. With severe depression, there is no such insight, in my experience.

People caring for a loved one with this illness need serious support. They need recognition that their loved one is really  ill, that it’s not a made-up condition they can be shaken out of, made to face up to, forced to shape-up, grow-up, stop playing-up!  No one expects a cancer patient to shrug off cancer and get better simply by pulling their socks up.

Depression ruins lives. It destroys relationships and can, if not properly treated, lead to suicide with all the terrible repercussions that creates. So, why is it that mental health services in the UK are so badly funded. The statistics tell us that one in four of us will experience some form of mental illness in our lifetime. ONE IN FOUR!

MIND says it’s one in four in every year in the UK. That’s a lot of people.  This is from their website: http://www.mind.org.uk

Different types of mental health problem:
Every seven years a survey is done in England to measure the number of people who have different types of mental health problem each year[1]. It was last published in 2009 and reported these figures:

Depression 2.6 in 100 people
Anxiety 4.7 in 100 people
Mixed anxiety and depression 9.7 in 100 people

How many children of migrants and refugees, left to sleep in cold wet tents with little food, no prospects for real sanctuary and a settled life, how many of them will suffer from depression in their adult lives? While the politicians argue, lives are being ruined. While metal health services are being cut to the bone, mental illness will remain the poor relation in our beleaguered NHS. While children are suffering through financial austerity, however it comes, we are negating their mental health in the future.

 

THE LONG ROAD TO SELLING YOUR BOOK

I often wonder whether I will ever write another word.

It’s a horrible feeling that comes over me when I’ve just finished a book. In the past, when I was a theatre director and a tour was over and I was back home wondering if I’d done anything right, or if I should have taken up knitting instead, I had the support of my company of actors and crew.

When I’d finished a commissioned film and it was out there, in the community, being used to raise awareness about health and social issues, there was feed-back and discussion that continued long after the project had been completed. I had some tangible proof that my work was proving a useful resource within its field. Writing books is very different. If you are an Indie author, you can feel as if you are working in a vacuum,

Before I became one, I was unsure what being an Indie author actually meant. I’ve been very fortunate. My publisher www.Feedaread.com do not ask for a fee, but they do expect you to do your own editing and marketing outside of their website. If you have a contract from a publisher, you will have an editor, probably an agent and publicist – people whose job it is to make sure your book sells. As an Indie author, you have only yourself to rely on.

Artists can suffer from a deep sense of inadequacy. You strive for perfection, but it’s always another book, film, painting, play away from your grasp. As a new author, I’m plagued with what I suspect anyone who has run naked across a busy street must feel – acute embarrassment. The sight of my face peering out at me from Amazon’s Author Page fills me with horror and then, there’s the fear and trepidation when I see my book in print for the first time and the nausea that sweeps over me when I know a close friend or family member is about to read my work; a stranger is fine because, hopefully, I will never meet them! I feel I have worked through my apprenticeship. I am aware that my books are unique. I wrote them; no-one else. In this second phase of becoming a writer, I have decided to see my work as a business and try hard to make strategic decisions

And so the circle continues. Eventually, you pluck up courage to read reviews. You disbelieve the good ones and spit feathers at the bad, because you’ve been rumbled. You really are useless. And, if you are an Indie author, your perceived narcissism knows no bounds. Members of your own family will accuse you of megalomania, when all you are trying to do is sell some books and make a living. That means using every possible way to publicize your book, so that readers will buy a copy.

You allow your photo to grace the pages of the online book stores, you attend special events in book shops and set up a webpage, you try everything you can, pushing yourself and your baby – the book – into the spotlight. As an Indie author, you have to do your own PR and hope your family and friends won’t think you are totally self-obsessed. You pray they will understand that you would like a small financial reward for all the hours of hard graft. Once a book sits on your bookshelf, the spine staring at you like a reproachful relative, it’s not a good idea to keep pulling it away from its companions, to take little peeks inside the covers. Every paragraph you read will be an indictment that you are a rubbish writer. Best to ignore the bugger and move on.

If you want people to discover your book among all the thousands out there, you have to brand yourself – a tough call for a person who spends hours tucked away in a tiny room, waiting for ideas to formulate into words the folks out there will want to read, as you stare at the screen with red eyes and lost hope.

So, putting that last full-stop on the last page is just the beginning of the trauma. If you Tweet the title of your book, within hours you an inundated with companies offering you marketing advice – for a fee, and your inbox is full of publishers who are more than willing to publish your next tome – for a fee. What you really want, is some respectable main-stream publisher to come across your book online, read it, see your genius and offer you a contract. Pie in the sky? Maybe, but hard work, persistence and the knowledge that your work is unique, can make up for the fact that you might not be a genius, just good enough.

As a fledgling author, you have a high mountain to climb if you want to improve your craft. Writing takes up hours of your life and you have to be obsessive about it to get anywhere. You write because you must, not because you want to write a best-seller and make millions. Yes, a few writers do cross the Rubicon into millionaire world, and then the pressure is on. They have to churn out the best-sellers to order and honour those contracts as if they were a matter of life and death, which often they are.

We need writers, because without books, without the chance to read and have our eyes opened, there would be nothing but an arid, cultural desert out there. Books are magical. They enhance your life, give you knowledge and pleasure. They are wonderful, available hand-crafted jewels that cost very little.

I want to write and I hope people can see how much when they read my books. Try me out, please, and let me know what you think. And if you are a new author like me, stick at it and believe in yourself. It’s the only way.

My latest book is called THE MAN WHO THOUGHT HE WAS HAPPY

Writing this book put me inside the head of my protagonist – a forty-year-old man. It was a fascinating journey.

REVIEWS:

“Couldn’t put it down. Got straight into it, right from the start. The struggle the main character has to make sense of his life, rang a few bells for me, as a mere man! The writing is pacy and at times poetic but never boring. An engrossing read, full of surprises.”

 

“Really enjoyed this book! The descriptions of places and people were wonderful, and the story line keeps you on your toes till the very end. Interesting to bring Italy into the story and mix it in.
Looking forward to her next book now.”

My latest book is published by www.feedaread.com and you can also buy copies at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk, as well as other online book shops.Cover for author

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lyn-Ferrand/e/B008QKT9SK   

The book is on Kindle, too.

Thank you –  and enjoy!