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Discretion in Writing Nonfiction Kink

When I started this blog I had two goals in mind, to talk about BDSM and to talk about writing. I've written a lot about BDSM here, but little about writing. I'm going to explore the later a bit in this post, but I'm going to start, and keep a grounded foot in, the other topic.

My life is dictated by many factors and necessities. Given that I spend much of it with with perverts, discretion is a big one. One of my personal favorite moments in Ignite35: My Life in the Sex Fetish Community is when I first meet D.C. and he explaines, "There are people in this community who, if their involvement were discovered, could lose their jobs, respect of peers, custody of their children... In highly extreme cases, they could face criminal investigation. We may call it 'play,' but this isn't a game." It's important to remember such things. In living this way, you have to keep a lot of secrets and you have to be careful of what you do share. I have long time, close friends that I don't even know their real names. Few of them know mine. And sometimes--like if we bump into each other in public--we have to pretend like we don't know each other at all. We owe it to each other to keep the vanillas in our lives out of our bedrooms...not to mention, dungeons.

Some of you may find this strange coming from yours truly. I mean, I did write, what is basically, an expose on the BDSM community, nonfiction about the people--the kinksters--closest to me. How can I preach discretion and still write about the people I'm supposed to protect?

There are ways. The first is where the story takes place. I looked up the most common and frequently used names for towns in the United States and used some of those. Clinton isn't really Clinton. Originally, the town I migrated from in the book, Chester, was called, Richmond because it's one of the most common city names. But my copy editor automatically assumed I meant Richmond, Virginia. I didn't, so I changed it to something more vague. The second is that I changed the way some people look. Another is that I took one person, with their personality and background and gave them someone else's story. Yet another was that I merged a couple of people together into one, giving them bits and peices of both of their stories, which also kept the book short. Even another was to mildly change some player's personalities so as to make them part plot device (one example: Tinkerbrat is nowhere near as pliable as she appears in the book. She hit D.C. regularly in real life, like punched him in the arm and stuff and was only intimidated by him if they were playing. Even then...not really. She did get upset when he confronted her about the problem between them that appears at the end of the book [no spoilers], but also talked back a lot during that debate. However the subitle changes to her made it an easier read and more "typical" of a D/s relationship). The result was that the people who needed to be protected are. What's weird is that I have recieved multiple messages asking if my book is about the people who sent them...the messages, that is. Long story short, many communities are so similar that the stories are basic. We all go through the same things. As a result, everyone gets anonymity by virture of being alike.

This translates into a few things. For one, sometimes discretion--which is vitale in the lifestyle--can be maintained by finding our similarities. Two, presenting people to your vanilla friends as more different than they really are isn't lying, it's protecting secret identities. Three, our differences can often be our strengths and keep us safe. Finally, our stories are simply that, stories. If you've ever retold something that happened to you and embelished it or told it wrong, that's not always bad. It can mean that you're just trying to remain safe.

And safe is the main thing we're all about, right?

Outside of that, discretion in the lifestyle is usually a series of basic steps that happen one at a time. You're talking with a fellow kinkster at a bar and a vanilla friends walks up. The other people ideally know to shut it all down and wait for an introduction and signal. They hear you introduce the new people as work friends and see you flash a "peace sign" with your fingers, they know to be careful and quiet and you don't introduce your kink friends as a polyamourous couple who host orgies in their basement-turned-home-dungeon. Still, sometimes it's even more complicated and a kink friend walks into where you work at a retail establishment and you defy company policy by quickly taking off your name tag. Even more still, sometimes you pass each other in the grocery store and you pretend each other don't exist, not even glancing into the other person's cart to see what their new diet is.

There is a small movement to bring all of this out of the closet and I'll say right now, I'm not a fan. I don't need plenty of people knowing that I'm Batman...or, maybe Nightwing. Ideally that movement can respect those of us who still want to walk in the shadows and share knowing glances with people who are having polite dinner with their in-laws at the next table in Panera. Regardless, most of us still whisper in certain circumstances, dress in ways that don't make us stick out more than the day-to-day weirdos and guard our friends from losing the things that are most important to them.

When I chose to write Ignite35, I wanted to spit in the face of the 50 Shades culture and I felt that, ultimately, my friends would be good with that. I doctored their apperances and personalities and tales just enough to protect them. ...But not too much. It's all still true. They just won't suffer and can't even be 100% certain that it's about them. That's the way it should always be when we share our kinks with those who haven't earned our trust. Keep them guessing.


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