Writing and BDSM have something in common.

“Through negotiated, temporary, outward vulnerability, I achieve a sense of control and power, both of myself and of my environment.” Nicole Guappone for The Rumpus. 


As a writer and a bottom, I find my strength through choice. I choose to be vulnerable, to let myself be so on my own terms. I make myself vulnerable when I share my writing and when I try those new toys. Through negotiated, temporary, outward vulnerability, I achieve a sense of control and power, both of myself and of my environment—whether that’s in the workshop or in the bedroom or in the dungeon. I put my naked self on the line. I am most in control of myself when I open myself to pain, when I am willing to accept pain and discomfort, be it figuratively or literally.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this past year, my most formative and productive year as a writer thus far, corresponded with the year I came to identify as a BDSM bottom. This was the year I started experimenting, with my words and my body, the year I started seeing pain as an essential part of my life, something I need in order to be the best me I can be. Of course, I can’t do this alone; I rely on my partner to top me, to provide me with this service. He uses bondage to secure me, to calm me. I ask for flogging—harder and harder—in order to see the stars that put me under, release me completely. “Real life” is but a distant memory, yet this pain and release imbues me with creative energy. I have my best weeks when they’ve been preceded by a cleansing Sunday evening at the dungeon.

[…]

Over the last year, I’ve spent many hours both in writing workshops and kink workshops. If, like me, you’ve been a student of creative writing, you’ve probably been in a traditional workshop—those places where you can be supported or broken. It goes without saying that choosing to be a writer is a difficult path—we commit to getting rejections and criticism along the way. If you write nonfiction, it can feel like it’s your own life experiences being pulled apart—but it’s often worth it for what you learn.

For me, bottoming and workshopping go hand in hand. Not because I’m “submitting” to my workshop, but because, while in writing workshop, I know how strong I am because I am a bottom. When my hands are tied, even if the rope is a little too rough and I want to say something, I won’t. I can take it, I think to myself. And in workshop, when my hands are figuratively tied and I can’t respond to anything because that’s not how traditional workshop works, I know that if I can take pain and humiliation from someone I love with grace and eagerness, sometimes in public, I can certainly take criticism from the round table of my peers. Even if someone resorts to a personal attack, I know in my bones that I can take it because I’ve been on my back, bound to a table, taking drumbeats from my partner with a crop on my tits. And it may leave me feeling raw and exposed and tired, but no more so than a writing workshop. The biggest difference is in the exhilaration—I’m more likely to be exhilarated after that scene than after critique.

The more I explore my kink, the stronger and more courageous I feel. I’m a masochist, but I’m also a writer (some might argue that writers are masochists). I’m a writer because I have to write, because I don’t feel whole if I don’t, and as a result, sometimes I get pretty brutal feedback. “I think you’ve experienced more personal attacks in workshops than anyone else in our cohort,” a peer once told me.

If only there was such a thing as a safeword during workshop! But safewords come into play beforehand (and they’re more hypothetical). I can’t safeword in workshop, but I can safeword during the writing process, in choosing and controlling how personal, how naked, I want to get on the page. I am in control of my limits.

Read the full article, originally published on 9th December 2016, at The Rumpus.

The post is part of the (K)ink: Writing While Deviant series at The Rumpus.

Featured Image: Liam Golden

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