Books, book events, authors and that little thing called jealousy

I’m going to the franschhoek literary festival this weekend. for the first time ever. i guess this year i don’t mind so much, since i’m actually writing my first book. the thing is, everybody always makes out like going to these booky affairs is what one does if one writes – writes words, writes books, writes writings that they want the world to see.

not me.

going to booky events was always a bit like walking into book stores: intimidating.

how i imagine everyone talking about books at these things

how i imagine everyone talking about books at these things

the masses of books, the sheer enormity of apparent accomplishment, is usually just too much of a mountain for my little ego and its molehill of stories started and mostly not completed.

book events? fuggedaboutit.

also. i’ve never found hearing about anyone’s opinion on how to write worthwhile (except stephen king’s on writing. that’s bloody life-changing stuff right there. thanks cindy.), and if the books intimidate me, the authors would infuriate me in their ‘oh, look, i have a book out now’, been-there-done-that kinda attitude of … of … well … brave non-procrastination.

damn them to hell.

just fuck you ok. fuck you  and your 'potential'

just fuck you ok. fuck you and your glamorous ‘potential’ come to life, ok

now here we are. it’s publish or perish time and i’m smashing out my word counts er’day er’day.

i’d like to say that i rose above my small petty jealousies of other people’s accomplishments to come to a place of peace and writerly wisdom.

but i didn’t. nope. not me.

all that energy tied up in feeling insecure and challenged, infuriated, jealous and aghast has come in very handy in getting me off my bottom and actually doing the work.

it all started two years ago with a visit to morla, as many of my revelations do.

i was on my way to her practice when i saw news of a local writer’s Next Big Thing. god i was mad. mad as hangry toddler. and about as composed.

i sat down with morla and laid it all on the table. i had these ‘bad’ feelings, i told her, and only bad people have bad feelings like this.

‘like what?’ she asked

like jealousy.

‘ah,’ she nodded. ‘and what does that look like to you?’

well blow me down if the image that came up wasn’t an old-school witchy, cackling hag. the kind that might dance around pots of boiling goo with her other witchy friends, scheming up fun spells and howling at the moon.

i quite liked it. because a witchy witch can stir up trouble – and magic up treasure.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 12.10.08 PM

you see, morla pointed out something very true. jealousy in and of itself is not a ‘bad’ feeling. it is simply a feeling that points you in the direction you should be going. especially when it comes to career/passion stuff. it’s a signpost, see? let me explain.

i’m surrounded by incredibly successful people, who bring in the big bucks, rub all the right shoulders and own their own businesses.

and i am super chilled about it and proud of them.

‘oh you became ceo?! well done you!’

‘you opened your own restaurant?! SO proud!’

‘you’re driving a new merc to your wonderful new penthouse in camps bay!? let’s party friend!’

‘oh you’re flying where and where now for six-month holiday? how awesome for you!’

none of their success gets up my nose. i’m not suddenly like ohemgee i wish i were a coms specialist or a chef or an advertising person.


oh, dot, did you see so and so brought out a new bo—



ha ha ha

luckily i’m over that now.

ha ha


for reals though. i went where my jealousy was pointing me and now i am writing my own book. which, i’ve found, is way more productive than screaming self-pity into the void.

it’s not that i don’t ever get pangs of ‘srsly guys wtf’ every now and then. it’s not that i don’t have to make a conscious effort to remember that writing and playing the publishing game are often confused for the same thing.

it’s just that every time that witchy woman comes calling i take it as a sign that i’m spending too much time trawling the interwebs and comparing instead of writing.

i’m hoping that this first excursion into where the booky people are doesn’t feel so alien that i could never find a comfortable resting place there.

wish me luck.

10 Sex Myths That Must Go

Dorothy Black takes issue with the old-world thinking that affects your sex life

let’s move on shall we?

1. Sex is between a man and a woman, with a penis in a vagina Where does that leave people who are intersex, homosexual or transgender? Or those who don’t like penetration? Or those who only practice anal or oral sex? Are lesbians not having sex when they get each other off? Think of ‘sex’ as an umbrella term for all the consensual sexy acts that get you hot and bothered with someone else – or yourself. Maybe people are uncomfortable thinking of ‘real sex’ as anything but PIV (penis in vagina) sex, because considering ‘sex’ as an inclusive term raises guilty feels about when you first experienced sex or lost your ‘virginity’. Which brings me to…

they're just exchanging friendly cuddles

they’re just exchanging friendly cuddles

2. Virginity is a thing Is virginity a conceptual or a physical actuality? If the latter, then anything can ‘take’ your virginity, including a tampon or a jump in the pool. Unless you have a very rare condition of an imperforate hymen, nothing ‘breaks’ your hymen (and if you do have an imperforate hymen you’ll probably need surgery to sort that out). In most cases, however, the little membrane doesn’t totally cover the entrance to your vagina. Your vagina isn’t a Pringles can. (Although once you pop, you might not want to stop… #badamtoosh)

If it’s a concept, then when do you ‘lose’ your virginity? The dictionary will say something like: you lose your virginity when you practise sexual intercourse for the first time. If sex is an umbrella term and/or you don’t practice PIV sex, do you remain a virgin regardless of all the crazy kinky sex shit you get up to? Are you still a virgin if you’ve only ever practised mutual masturbation and anal or oral sex?

an approximate equivalent of your vagina not ready for sex

an approximate equivalent of your vagina not ready for sex

3. First time sex hurts Any penetrative sex hurts whenever you’re not ready and you’re expecting the worst. Your body clams up, your vagina clams up, in many cases your vaginal lubrication will dry up and the friction will hurt. But it doesn’t have to hurt. I’m not saying it won’t maybe be weird and uncomfortable, but pain doesn’t have to happen. It’s not an inherent feature in your first penetrative experience.

If you want to talk about foreplay, then talk about the chemistry you and your guy have

4. There is foreplay (for her) and then there is sex The shtick we’re told over and over again is that women need more foreplay than men and men are always ready. If you’re going to accept that ‘sex’ is a bunch of different sexual acts, what is foreplay? The story we’re told about foreplay is: To ‘get her ready for sex’ practice some oral sex or lick her nipples … then when she is ready for penetration you can have sex with her. There is foreplay and then there is sex.’

But all that ‘foreplay’ stuff is really just sex and you’re either ready for it or you’re not. You either need slow sex and a longer build up or you can get off on a quickie. And that goes for her and him. Men are not always ‘on’.

If you want to talk about foreplay, then talk about the chemistry you and your guy have and work on as part of your relationship culture – the intimacy you generate throughout the day in your conversations, your displays of affection and how you invest time in each other.

it's not really SEX sex

it’s not really SEX sex

5. Men want sex, women want emotional connection This is an incredibly old model, one that is sexist, old-fashioned and stupid. It’s the Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus paradigm. My paradigm is: Humans are from Earth. They like to socialize, generally like to copulate, want to be accepted and have feelings. We have been socialized to believe that men and women are so fundamentally different that we forget the humanity underpinning it all.

…our experience is of chomping on a plain apple when we were expecting the French apple tart

6. Great sex comes naturally Great sex is like learning how to cook. Everyone can eat food, just like everyone can bump genitals together. But while some people will be content to eat an apple, others will learn how to make the finest French apple tart and serve it with dollops of clotted cream and sugared strawberries.

Being a good lover depends mostly on stuff that has nothing to do with your genitals, including self-knowledge, being able to communicate clearly, being open to exploring and being generous with your time and attention – and learning some skills.

Unfortunately, when most of us are presented with our first lovers (usually at a very young age, see above ‘Sex is between a vagina and penis’) our experience is of chomping on a plain apple when we were expecting the French apple tart. Sadly, this can easily colour one’s experience of sex and desire, and label the whole fiasco as less than satisfactory fact forever and always.

one learns to ride it...

one learns to ride it…

7. Everybody likes sex, right? Well no. Some people really don’t. Maybe it’s due to some trauma or bad early experiences with intimacy and sex. Maybe sex just isn’t that much of a priority. But there are also asexual people who just literally do not feel sexual attraction or desire. It doesn’t mean they don’t fall in love, need or want physical tenderness or have successful relationships; they just don’t feel the lusty pull of desire on their loins.

8. Your number matters. No it doesn’t. Simple as that. Quantity means as little to your morality as it does to your prowess as a lover. The only purpose someone’s judgement and shaming serves around the number of men and women I’ve been with, is as an accurate measure of their friend and/or partner viability in my life. Save yourself a lot of time by not taking responsibility for someone else’s issues when they have a problem with your ‘number’.

how are you supposed to know if you don't taste

how are you supposed to know if you don’t taste

9. Sex is about orgasm Another product of the goal-driven society. Orgasm is great, no one is denying that. But it is not the only pleasure we derive from physical intimacy with each other. Loving and/or enjoyable skin-to-skin interaction sets off a chemical reaction in the body that releases a lot of happy hormones that go a long way to build affection and bonding.

‘Female desire can be peaking all along, ebbing and flowing throughout the life course’

10. Men reach their sexual prime when they’re 18, women when they’re 35. I’m going use the scientific term for this: Rubbish. This myth unfolded from very old, socially dated research from the Kinsey data. What is now being posited is genital prime and sexual prime. The former is driven by biological factors (hormones, health and so on) and the latter social factors (your experience, maturity and general joie de vivre). Sexual anthropologist Bella Ellwood-Clayton writes about this in her book ‘Sex Drive’ and says: ‘Female desire can be peaking all along, ebbing and flowing throughout the life course.’

This column was first published on Women24…