Bras don’t work in the dark. That’s a fact. Well it is from the perspective of a very particular if not peculiar, male demographic. Lingerie is designed with multi-purpose; to I assume offer some comfort and support, as well as offering the wearer a certain sense of self-confidence and thus creating a positive self-image. In addition to this there is the effect it can have on the male of the species, in that it can arouse the ardour in a man, hence my opening statement that a bra doesn’t work in the dark, at least from one perspective.
It’s a simple, perhaps uniquely male perspective I suppose, but let me elaborate. Imagine if you will that you are a man, (unless you are, then just put yourself into the scene- or indeed if you are a woman attracted to women – same applies) you have arrived at that point in the proceedings, where your lover has reached that stage of undress and she presents you with her near naked form, save for some expensive, perhaps highly suggestive and attractive, undergarments.
If the lady in question has chosen wisely, the revelation of her beautiful form in pretty lingerie, will only add fuel to the fire, at which stage we can safely assume the brassiere is working. Even in its removal, there is a sensual, indeed sexual development to the plot of your night, again a good indication that the item in question has function and value.
Now roll back the clock, turn out the light and all we are left with is the rustle of undress and a clumsy fumble in the dark, while you try to locate the unyielding clasp. You see nothing that adds to the moment, indeed all you have is an awkward obstacle to negotiate. You see from that particular perspective it’s true, bras don’t work in the dark.
Now hold on you might be thinking or less polite words to that effect, that’s a pile of something unpleasant. Of course you may well be right but that depends on who you are, what sex you are, what your sexual orientation is, if you in fact even find lingerie attractive, from which side of the interaction you find yourself and what your history, morals and experience tells you.
Think back to the opening line. If you understood what I meant immediately and whether you agree or disagree, all help categorise you to some degree in terms of that I have just said. From a writer’s perspective, that very thing ‘perspective’ is all important.
In a recent review for Little Big Boy, the reviewer mentioned how difficult it can be for a writer to put themselves into the shoes of someone of the opposite sex or in the case of Little Big Boy, to write from a child’s perspective. It is so true and it is the hurdle that trips up many a writer. There is no magic button that puts you into the head of someone of the opposite sex for example. Men and women despite assertions made by some, are very different in how they think and feel.
I have read some awful tripe, only recently in fact from a book I planned to review but simply couldn’t, where the so called erotic scenes were farcical because the writer who was a woman, really had no clue what goes on in a man’s mind and clearly made assumptions, based either on porn or some half-arsed creation from what she assumed might go on in the heads of men. That is not a pop at female writers and I have equally read male authors guilty of the same crime.
It should leave me with a dilemma, because I write from some peculiar points of view. Little Big Boy is a first person perspective of a very small boy and while I was one once, it was a long time ago. Larry Flynn tells the story of an old vengeful man and one of the main characters is a young American woman with whom I have little in common. In Bad Blood I have created some terrible monsters of men and switch between two countries, Ireland and the USA for significant portions of the story. There are a multitude of diverse characters, an angry young black man from the ghetto, a disillusioned somewhat messed up Irish priest, a female lawyer struggling with a glass ceiling and the misogyny that surrounds her, as well as a racist family from Alabama and the central serial killing, Death Row inmate, James Delaney.
Of course, every writer faces the same challenge as every character in fiction is just that fictional. However, when I write I can’t make it seem like I think that bras don’t work in the dark. On its own it can sound crass or stupid. It is used here as an analogy for this problem. When I write from a different perspective, it needs to feel right from the reader’s point of view.
I am in the late stage of my first draft for Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes and in writing this and its predecessor Darkly Wood, I was never more confronted with the problem of writing from a different perspective. Both books have female protagonists at their heart, indeed in Daisy May, I have written about a young girl falling in love for the first time, faced with a frightening dilemma and a crisis of sanity to some degree.
I could have tried in all cases mentioned here, to imagine what it is like to be a teenage girl in love for the first time, a murdering, racist Alabama psychopath, an abused 8 year old boy, a country girl in 1940’s Ireland being forced to deal with her neighbour raping her, or a perverted, vile, angry old man dying of cancer, still trying to get revenge on a family he holds responsible for the death of his brother when he was still a young man. It would never have worked for me. I chose another path.
In previous blogs, I have explained that I am an emotional writer and that is the key for me. You must I believe, get to the truth of the moment, immerse yourself and exist in that moment, to make it work. Nothing else matters. I don’t pretend. I never try to be that which I am not. Instead I look to the story for guidance.
One of my favourite passages or scenes is the opening of Larry Flynn. He mounts the step of a bus, clearly old, weak, ill and wet from a shower of rain, not circumstances that would put anyone in a good mood. I needed to feel Larry, to make what happens next on the bus feel real. I made him cough, I allowed him to be pissed off, I stepped up the steps of the bus, feeling his every ache and when I knew I would have to sit on the bench seat behind the driver, because I wouldn’t make it down to the back of the bus where the seats were more comfortable, I shuffled in his shoes. I had to commit to the moment as I wrote. We have little in common Larry and I, but that’s the point. I cant pretend to be something I am not but by giving myself to the story, allowing Larry in and leaving my moral compass and logical thinking aside, I was able to be someone else for a while, albeit a sometimes unpleasant place to be.
I was Larry in that moment and when the driver annoyed me and I sat down opposite the two young ‘slappers’ across the way from me, I knew what Larry was thinking. I felt his contempt for them. I understood his resentment for his own impotence in that moment and I was able to write a scene that I couldn’t have written, if I simply imagined what it might be like to be an old man in those circumstances. To imagine what he might think would make him wooden. To think like him makes him real. I was Larry when he wet himself later in the book. I was sitting in his chair, feeling as miserable as he was and I felt his shame and his anger. His self-loathing sometimes overwhelmed me but in committing to Larry every so briefly every day, he leapt of the page for me.
The problem of course is that this style of writing takes a lot out of me, it truly does. Little Big Boy took more than most because I put him through so much. It is not for everyone but if as a writer, you can at the very least draw on some emotion from your own life to spark off the fire in the belly of your character, then you can avoid the pitfall of dodgy perspective.
When I write from Daisy May’s perspective I am not trying to be a girl in my head, I am just dealing with what’s in front of me or the consequences of what I have just done. I live in the moment for each character and let the moment carry me. She holds a special place in my heart because we shared some special moments as I drew her out in the story, and I am so glad that those feelings returned to me in writing the sequel.
As I wrap up Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes I realise that in the world of Darkly Wood, I have been a hooker, a vicar, a swashbuckler, soldier, lover, policeman, father, mother, daughter and son. I have been more than one monster of differing kinds, and I have killed and felt the hand of death. I have climbed trees, fought battles, wined and dined, been a lesbian pained by unrequited love, a farmer, a doctor, a rich man, a poor man, a family man and a loner. That is just the half of it and in truth nothing invigorates me more than writing this series.
All through it and in every case, I have been me looking through their eyes, feeling their joy, their pain and their sorrow, and it has been a most marvellous adventure. I am still on first draft stage of Darkly Wood II, but already I have sneaked into the head of the characters in my next two books, excited and filled by the trepidation of what has yet to come. That’s what I want the reader of a Max Power book to feel. That’s what I feel and I hope that in my books, readers get to see even just a little of what I see and feel some of what touches me, as I put pen to paper.
That’s my perspective. Bras do work in the dark but only depending on whose point of view you take. I always remember that readers like to inhabit the world of my characters and regardless of whether they think the underwear is working or not, I want them to feel that the protagonist thinks that they do, or indeed that they don’t and for it all to make perfect sense. Making sense is good. I hope I made some here. A final random aside… someone I know well always refers to lingerie as undercrackers … great word … had to share.
Now what are you waiting for? Go find your first or your next Max Power book.
Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : – http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower