Longtime readers of Governing Ana will remember that I am working toward some long-cherished but rather daunting career goals. After some false starts, challenges, and soul-searching I have found a new direction for my work. It’s not the place that I intended to be when I began this journey, but I hope that it will be an even more fulfilling path that better fits my needs and abilities. (No, this career path doesn’t come with an on-the-job disciplinarian. Stop fantasizing. You already got to do that with Minelle’s story. :P)
Despite the years of hard work necessary to get to this place, it was the past two weeks that meant the most difficult work of all. A year ago I was working 15 or 18 hour days, even staying at the office overnight to frantically produce research that I later realized had to be re-purposed.
Today, I’ve come to rest for a moment on (rather tiny) laurels. It’s been a heck of a few weeks and months getting to this point, but the sense of accomplishment is worth it.
Ironically (or perhaps it should not be ironic), the single most helpful force in the past few months has been my spanky writing. I’ve become better at my job, yes at my grown-up real job, by writing these stories that I can never share with my family or most of my real-life friends. I put together a few nuggets of spanky-writing wisdom I’ve acquired over the past few months, and I hope that you will enjoy them.
Conflict makes things better.
When I first began writing the Kat and Natalie stories last summer (or began writing them again after ten years of letting them lie fallow), I focused solely on Kat’s internal journey. Conflict happened, sure, but it was the quiet, understated conflict of multiple irreconcilable wants and needs. Conflict meant internal indecision, not external action. In Kat and Natalie’s world, I was sure, external conflict would mean the end of the relationship.
When I was working on Daughter of Discipline (the sequel to The Vengeance of Mrs. Claus), I wanted Minelle to throw a book at Matthew’s head because she was angry. I shied away from the kind of punishment such misbehavior would necessitate–until a friend said that it would actually soften the scene to show that Minelle was comfortable enough in her relationship to display that kind of behavior. I re-wrote the scene to include the book-throwing, and my friend was right. The conflict brought out previously unspoken dynamics to their relationship.
Encouraged, I went back to Kat and Natalie. After months of pondering how to respond to criticism that Natalie was too heavy-handed and that some readers were disturbed that Kat blamed herself for everything in their relationship, I wrote a scene where Kat throws her anger at Natalie. Natalie responds in kind, and suddenly the story became real in a whole new way. That scene became the foundation for “Tomorrow”, (aka Kat 1.5) the short story that will be part of the anthology Coming to Terms on May 15th.
The scary conflicts in our real lives can actually become something productive and meaningful in opening new directions.
Bad things happen. Life is unfair, yet it still manages to be beautiful.
The Way Home (Kat and Natalie, Volume One), is a story of how two best friends struggle to get past a terrible event in their lives. One of the most controversial rules that Natalie has for Kat is that Kat is not allowed to say that her discipline is unfair. Natalie never directly explains why she has imposed this rule (though she makes it very clear that she expects the rule to be followed!). Enough readers have objected to this rule, however, that I have found myself explaining Natalie’s reasoning again and again. Rarely do my answers satisfy.
The closest that I can come to is this: Bad things happen. Life is unfair, yet it still manages to be beautiful.
Within the DD world we have quite a lot of discussion whether punishments are unfair, whether the HoH is allowed to be unfair, and whether the entire underlying premise of DD is unfair.
I suggest the radical notion that life itself is unfair, and that pretending otherwise only does ourselves a disservice. The difficult things that happen in our life are not fair. The punishments imposed by one DD partner on the other can sometimes be unfair.
If we only dwell on the unfairness, we miss the beauty.
We rarely know where we are going until we get there.
I hope it’s not too much of a spoiler if I tell you that, at the end of The Way Home, Kat and Natalie are still together. (Sorry. I’ll refund your admission price to today’s show.) Yet when I first began writing their stories again last summer, I had no intention that Kat would ever see or hear from Natalie again. (Long story. Read the book. :P) I wrote each chapter as if Natalie would never come back.
Three-quarters of the way into what would become The Way Home (the second half of the stories became re-written as Kat 2, tentatively titled Welcome Home), I realized that this was not a story about dealing with loss. It was a story of redemption, reconciliation, and love triumphing in spite of loss. (To spite loss, perhaps.)
The Way Home began as a story of a spanking. It became so much more…and I never could have dreamed that when I wrote my first page.
As I twist and turn through various false starts and find myself in places I had never anticipated, I find my own life journey mirroring that of my stories. Where I am now is not where I had intended to be, but it is wonderful in its own way.
The myth of perfect resolution hurts our relationships.
I love being right. Who doesn’t? I love my spreadsheets and record-keeping and detailed, thorough worklists. When someone violates my boundaries or backs me into a corner, my aversion to conflict (see above) tends to not make things pretty.
The fantasy of DD, for most of us, is the fantasy of resolution. To say “I’m sorry” in order to receive punishment, forgiveness, and absolution is the most enduring appeal of the DD relationship. When the relationship doesn’t operate according to the rules of most DD stories, in real life we can become frustrated and angry. We press for resolution, we push for talking things over, and in trying to make our life fit this ideal expectation we end up alienating the ones who love us the most.
DD at its best, and spanking at its best, is an amazing tool for catharsis, reconnection, intimacy, and restoration. But it is only a tool. A spanking can not cure depression (even if it can reinforce behaviors that help to mitigate depression), nor can it change core values and experiences of people.
In The Way Home, Kat and Natalie get a lot of things wrong. Natalie spanks for everything and nothing, and Kat shuts down. What begins as innocent schoolgirl fun and mentoring eventually paralyzes Kat and Natalie into roles that no longer allow them to grow.
Yet the resolution, when it came, was easier than I had ever thought it could be. Because it wasn’t about forcing one person or the other to change or to say the correct DD formula that some proponents espouse. It was about Kat and Natalie letting go of the myth that DD could fix things. Letting go of the expectation that they could talk through things and come to an agreement. Letting go of the need for the other person to be what she wanted.
Letting go of the need for someone else to do or be something in order that we can become all right with ourselves.
Natalie is still bossy and controlling. Kat is still shy and unable to speak up when she needs to, but they find a way to be together without hitting each other. (Well, except for Natalie hitting Kat’s bottom…)
Do you read spanking fiction? Do you write spanking fiction (published or unpublished)? Why or why not? How has doing so influenced your “real life”?
Like what you read here today? Come back on Tuesdays in March for more discussion of how reading and writing spanking fiction can be helpful in real life.
Join us for discussion by leaving a comment, writing a response post of your own (be sure to send me your link so I can give you credit!), emailing me, or simply reflecting on your own!
All perspectives welcome, whether you are a reader, author, blogger, publisher, reviewer, or even a lurker.