Anybody who has ever had sex, and unless you’re Anne Widdecombe that’s pretty well all of you, will know that sometimes you go, ‘Hardly earth moving, was it?’ That’s life. When making love works, it’s a transcendent experience. Sometimes it hardly seemed worth the effort.
I was reminded of this because this week saw the Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award. It’s a simple concept. If you write badly about sex, you can expect a brickbat. You’ll be in good company. John Updike. Melvyn Bragg. Some big hitters will be your august company.
This year, there were two winners, in the same way there were four Turner winners. Didier Decoin (an unlikely name) and John Harvey shared the laurels.
The thing is this. It’s really really difficult to write convincingly about sex. Lady Chatterley’s Lover is absolutely excruciating. It’s terrible. You’re better off reading the I Confess readers’ letters in a softporn mag.
In the fiction I write, there’s a lot of sex, because sex is important. But I adhere to the idea that the best sex is in your mind. Not for me the pumping and thrusting and squelching and groaning. I let you know it’s happening, or going to happen, or has happened, and let you fill in the gaps.