Over the past six months or so, I've seen the (wildly unreliable and self-contradictory, I know) stats on this blog bloat stupendously in the 'bot department, and I lulled for a long time in promoting it (mostly on Twitter). So it became a regular pattern to see 500 hits a day from Russia and like 38 from the United States. France became highly occupied with me during this period--enough that I could not consider it genuine traffic, and asked myself the occasional "So, France--new spam capitol of the world? Huh" and got so I hated seeing my daily traffic.
I also was looking at the hard times in my family, dealing with big events at work, traveling on my own, and even occasionally trying to WRITE (theoretically what I do and the core reason this blog exists). So Twitter looked like too much of a time suck, and I wasn't in a shilling mood.
Lately, logging on more regularly again, and talking with my Twitter pals, not only has my following there seen a little increase, the stats here have begun looking less discouraging. Interestingly, bots are DOWN; which, with more activity, seems to my wee and paltry brain counter-intuitive, but it's certainly gratifying. They're still around in abundance, but more and more my legitimate travel gives them a run for their money, and even wins not-rarely.
Given there was a time I never got any real hits here at all other than randomly, or the roughly three people who put up with my poorly organized word-dumps, it's comforting to see sustained actual readership, even if the particulars are still murky given Blogger's curious algorithms.
As with Blogger, so with the actual work of writing. The WIP is still early going, but it's not an inviable embryo anymore, and its development is really exciting. I may be embarking on that hushed-taboo I've never indulged: writing a frankly and in detail about sex, in a work I intend for publication.
Mom won't read the work anyway, but it's still always been my standard not to humiliate her nor anyone I loved with work much too far to the outre' side.
I know we're not supposed to write for an audience; but with Ax it was pretty easy not to peel back the sheets on a couple comprised of a Catholic saint and the guy who wielded a pretty lethal ax and so on in order to gain his domains. (One could divert, here, into a discussion of the relative moral horror of gruesome battles and executions versus the objectionability of loving sex, but that is another post, and indeed one I probably don't need to even write at all).
But I want to contemplate sex and its role in a world so very different from "our own" (as if today's world is all one nice and convenient, homogenized experience ...). I want to give full life and beating hearts to characters of more variety and differing stations than Ax required me to consider. Maybe I want to work out issues of my own; storytelling is important, but let's not pretend my heart doesn't beat, and that has no influence. Maybe I just want to be a wayward little scamp and scandalize my family; it wouldn't be my first time. My instinct is, though, this story just calls for an entirely different look at relationships (and transactions) than Ax had the room for. The shift into multiple POV and third person creates (demands?) more perspective than the first-person narrative of a single, biased voice.
And sex is an un-ignorable part of human experience. Our expectations surrounding it certainly change, our attitudes toward it are formed by amazingly powerful and multifarious influences. It's strong stuff, with or without the framework of morality; and usually with ... though morality is slippery stuff.
Growing up, it wasn't so at my house. But growing up, there never was any pretense sex didn't EXIST. My mom and dad were very much into each other; my brother and I dutifully made fun of them for it. Its very undeniability underscored its dominating importance, and both mom and dad had their own clear ideas on the sanctity of Correct sexual behavior.
In a novel populated by women who facilitate birth, give birth, trade (and are traded) on marital alliances, and at one point even endure that sexy little malady, "hysteria" (go ahead, ask me what the curative was!): you cannot get the story done without a bit of sex here and there.
For those readers I know don't get into sex scenes; maybe I'll have to put one up here, just for a test ride. I don't write erotica, though I think it's not true that what I write has no appeal. For one character, there is tragedy inextricably attached. For another ... the motives are less clear, though is many ways the connection itself is unadorned and straightforward. When it comes to marriages, sex must be had, and heirs underlie any "lying" (with) that gets done.
Fecundity is always present, too. Sex did not exist only unto itself, and this is a dynamic many today have never honestly grappled with. I knew people long ago whose "accidental" pregnancies were intentional "traps" in actuality (the success rate there was not necessarily encouraging). I knew people, too, for whom it was always recreational.
This latter dynamic? Not as easily achievable - not for women - in Late Antiquity.
Yet even that needs attention.
It is perhaps in order to apologize to my readership, that sex has so dominated my posts of late. But I find it hard to feel repentance.
Not because I'm a slut, but because: this is where the writing happens to be right now. And this blog exists because of my writing.
If it's better I lay off, don't hesitate to ask me to stifle it.
Or if you have questions about the politics and mechanics of ancient sexual practice - comment away with that. It's not merely interesting to research and consider, it's been a stimulating (har) subject, creatively. I'm both challenged and energized, and it's got me thinking - which usually gets me blogging away.
If I need to shut up, say so. Because after this, we get into all the other research (archaeology and Procopius - how I love you!). It could get less sexy, but it won't be diminished for self-indulgence as I geek out on studying.