Today I have another lovely interview for you, from the fascinating and frankly wonderful Girl on the Net. I met her at Eroticon this year and she’s not only super generous with sharing her knowledge and insights, she was also the first person to pay me to write about sex, when she accepted my pitch for a guest blog on her site earlier this year. I hope you enjoy this little insight into the woman behind one of the longest-standing and most awesome sex blogs.
Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?
Mostly I write porn – I love the written word, and I find well-turned phrases intensely arousing. Since 2011 I’ve been sex blogging – mostly true stories about things I’ve done with hot people in the past, or fantasies I have about what to do in the future. But within that I always try to mix a bit of politics – whether that’s urging people to avoid using big tube sites, tackling the UK government’s ridiculous ideas around age-verification and porn, or challenging sexism in various forms.
What first made you want to write about sex?
I had a lot of stories and I just really wanted to tell them. For a lot of my life I felt a bit like I was wrong or weird for enjoying sex as much as I do. I was always told that *men* like sex, whereas women simply use sex as a way to negotiate relationships with men. But that’s total bullshit. I think initially I started the blog because I wanted a way to communicate that desperate, urgent lust that has driven so many of my decisions (good and bad). Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve discovered one of the nicest feelings: that ‘me too!’ moment when commenters say ‘OMG I thought I was the only one!’ Talking about sex – however we do it – helps us all feel less alone.
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey into sex writing and how it went from being a hobby to being (I believe) your full-time job?
So back in 2013 I think it was, I was having a horrible time at work and I was also struggling a lot with anxiety. I have anxiety at a low-level all the time, but it comes in waves, and around that time I had a huge wave – partly due to work, and partly due to the stress of trying to keep my work life and my blog life separate. At the same time I’d done a couple of GOTN-related pieces of work, and I wondered if I could start doing this stuff full time.
I went to Eroticon in 2014, and met so many incredible sex bloggers and writers, and got some truly invaluable advice from the people I met there. I even got commissioned to start working with Pandora Blake, copywriting for her site Dreams of Spanking. At the time I’d quit my job, and expected to be able to live off savings/bits and pieces for perhaps six months before i had to find a new day job. But that conference gave me the confidence and knowledge to start finding freelance work and live full-time off what I’m doing as GOTN. I’m earning way less than I used to in the corporate world, but I don’t have to take rush-hour tubes any more, and I can spend more time focusing on the blog and doing the things I really love.
Did you always know you’d write a book (or several) one day, or did that spring from the blogging organically?
I “wrote” my first “book” when I was about 13 – and those scare-quotes are very important because it was an absolutely shit book. A kind of Point Horror rip-off in which this girl’s entire family gets killed one by one. It was so bad I can’t even remember who the killer was now. I only tell you that story because I knew I always wanted to write. I just didn’t know what I wanted to write about until I realised that you have to write what you love: and I love sex!
What does “a day in the life of You” look like?
Blimey, OK I’m going to give you today because it’s reasonably typical.
Wake up, check phone, see a tonne of emails and have a mini-panic that I will never get through them (narrator’s voice: she would never get through them). Then shower, coffee-and-check-twitter, then sit at my desk and bash out whatever copy I need to write to meet my deadlines today – it might be an article for a magazine or online, or a blog post for one of the sex toy companies I contract for, or if I’ve just had a book out it might be a couple of articles I’m writing to publicise the book.
Then lunch and Bargain Hunt. That is sacred. Every day I make lunch at 12:30 then sit down to eat it at 12:45, so I can see how much money people have lost in Bargain Hunt. It calms me down and reminds me that whatever I might have fucked up in the morning, at least I didn’t spend £150 on some hideous piece of silver that turns out to only be worth 20 quid.
After lunch I try to do more GOTN-related stuff: blog posts, recording audio porn for the new audio porn hub which I really want to grow. I also have a couple of projects I’m working on for GOTN that I’m not allowed to tell people about yet, so this is usually the time I’ll do them. Towards the end of the day I try to answer emails or catch up on admin – invoicing people, paying guest bloggers, that kind of thing.
I’ll also usually go and check the Eroticon accounts – see if we’ve had any new contact from sponsors or pitch to a few new sponsors, or write blog posts/emails for Eroticon, chat to Molly and Michael to plan things or contact new potential speakers.
All this interspersed with cigarette breaks, panics because I’m worried I’ve done/said the wrong thing, a lot of pissing about on Twitter, and occasional interruptions from my other half if he’s working from home offering to make me coffee and/or let me suck him off.
What’s the best thing about being a sex writer, in your opinion? The worst?
The best thing is that when I am in the flow, and writing about something that fascinates/excites/enrages me (basically anything that stirs emotions) it is like an actual high. If I write something I am proud of, I will glow for the rest of the day.
The worst thing, I think, is that I absolutely suck at the business side of sex blogging. Although this is my full time job, the majority of the stuff I do is either free or underpaid, because I do a lot of it out of love. I get incredibly good web traffic, but I suck at selling ad space, so as a result my blog makes way less money than it should (and, incidentally, I am a total BARGAIN if any companies are reading this). And there are lots of things I won’t do because I just don’t enjoy them: sponsored posts, for instance. I’m aware I could do way better at all this stuff, but I just don’t enjoy doing the sales and admin stuff.
What’s your favourite piece you’ve ever written?
This is the HARDEST question and not just because I don’t want to be arrogant – it’s also because once I’ve written something I am very much done with it, and I don’t tend to think about it any more unless it pops up in my archive auto-tweet.
I guess my first book. Because I was so determined to write a book before I was thirty, and to be able to have done it made me incredibly happy at the time. My second book, too, of course, because I got the thrill of actually seeing it in book shops!
In terms of blog posts, because it’s easier to link to a blog post than a book, I really enjoy writing about sex robots and this post is one I’m particularly proud of because it’s whimsical and philosophical and is crammed with robots. I was also really pleased with a sex positions article I wrote for The Debrief a while ago – there are no gendered pronouns and all the positions can be done no matter what your genital configuration: at the time it was my ambition to get a sex tips article that was entirely gender-neutral onto a mainstream site, so I was delighted that they didn’t edit a word.
You share a LOT of personal stuff, which is awesome. Can you talk about how you decide what to share in your work and what to leave out?
Ha! Well there are two things primarily that affect what I write about: first one is, of course, consideration for my partners. while there are some ex-partners that don’t know they’re being written about (ones from long long ago or one-night stands), most of the people I talk about on my blog know that they’re there – the ‘significant’ guys (my ex and my current partner, mostly) know that I write about them and both have had input into whether there are particular things they don’t want me to talk about. It can be tricky avoiding those things sometimes but I think I’ve managed it!
The other thing is less exciting: it’s about anonymity. So a lot of my stories will have details changed, or timelines fudged a bit, to try and avoid anyone finding out who I actually am. And then I guess on top of that there’s the matter of whether I’m ready to write about something yet: I have a series of cool sex things that happened over the last year, involving some friends of mine and lots of hot sex together. I’m not ready to write about those yet though because I don’t think I can do them justice. They’ll go up as a series, probably, when I’ve taken a lot of time to write and consult with the people who feature.
If you were stuck on a desert island (sorry, sorry, I HAD to do a ‘desert island’ question) and could take three sex toys, which would you pick and why?
Assuming I have a generator I can use to charge them, I would pick the Doxy, because it is the greatest sex toy of all time and the one thing that can get me off even when I’m anxious/in a slump. I would also take a decent dildo – my favourite at the moment is the Godemiche Ambit – because that would give me a bit of variety/G-spot love. And for my third, could I take another Doxy? If I’m going to be stuck on that island for a while, being very bored and doing a lot of wanking, I want to make sure I’ve got a spare for when I inevitably fuck the first one into an early grave.
What’s something you used to believe about sex/relationships but don’t believe any more, and what changed your mind?
I used to think that break-ups amounted to failure. That my goal should be to find someone I really like and then cling to them until the day I die, because successful relationships last forever. That’s bollocks, though: you can have remarkably successful, fulfilling relationships that only last a short while, and you can have successful, worthwhile long-term relationships that inevitably end. I wish I’d known this sooner and been able to embrace it. I think knowing that relationships don’t have to fit this template has made me more comfortable thinking about what I actually want rather than what I think I ‘should’ be doing.
What’s the best sex advice you ever got?
I’ve had TONNES of great sex advice, but honestly I think the most useful is less individual advice and more a general philosophy. Meg-John Barker + Justin Hancock’s book Enjoy Sex: How, When And If You Want To really inspired me. It’s not about positions or tips or assumptions about what will and won’t guarantee you pleasure – it basically encourages you to ask questions of yourself – what do I like? What am I like? Why do I enjoy this or that thing?
So I guess the best sex advice I got was a whole book’s worth of it, and the knowledge that it is far more valuable to explore your own desires and communicate with partners about them than it is to try and tick boxes based on what Cosmo says is the position of the month. Like, I knew this already, but the book really helped me work through the detail of it. It’s a brilliant book, everyone who’s interested in sex should have a copy!
What do you think is the most toxic myth that our society perpetuates about sex/relationships?
That everyone should have one, and if you aren’t in one then you have somehow ‘failed.’ I have single friends who are incredibly happy, and single friends who are miserable: all of them repeatedly bashing their head against other people’s pity and assumption that their lives would be better if they’d only ‘settle down.’
To expand on this, I think the idea that romantic/sexual relationships should always follow a natural path of progression (first base, second base, third. Mortgage, marriage, babies, etc) is really toxic. It pushes people to autopilot onto what they think the next ‘step’ should be, rather than focusing on what they actually want. And it makes those who choose different paths feel like they are weird or wrong, when actually they may well have it more sorted than those who have just autopiloted into marriage. That’s not to say that choosing this traditional path is wrong, of course: it may be the right decision for many people. It’s just that it is absolutely, definitely, 100% NOT the right idea for everyone, and we should encourage people to make conscious choices about what they want, rather than pressure them into doing what others expect.
What’s one question that you wish people would stop asking you?
“Is that your real name?” The answer is always ‘no’ swiftly followed by me being uncomfortable and leaving the conversation. People get really hung up on names, and can’t quite cope with the idea that the person they’re speaking to is using a pseudonym. But I’m comfortable with my pseudonyms (I have a few, and I give people different ones depending on how much I trust them – thus if I am outed as ‘Kate Bloggs’ [not one I actually use] I will probably know who outed me, because I’ll only have given that name to one or two people.)
And just for fun, because it is “Coffee and Kink”: do you like coffee and how do you take it?
Milk, two sugars and as cheap as it comes. I’ll drink a latte if I really fucking *have* to, but I prefer instant because I am a devastatingly cheap date.