Draft 1/Draft 5

I write creative nonfiction, and that means that I lay in your arms and think about how I would describe it, our bodies next to each other in the dark while it storms outside, how I ask you to leave the fan off so we can hear it.

Draft 1/Draft 5
Photo by Jp Valery / Unsplash

by Skylar Camp

Draft 1

What it's like to be a cnf writer means I lay in your arms and think about how to write what it feels like, your body pressed against mine, the small push up against my ass. The way I lay afterwards not touching but close, vagina slightly sore and I don't tell you, wondering if this is a moment I'll look back on And think ah, there it is, foreboding, but how it's really nothing, just a mundane night of falling asleep after amazing sex with a man I love, in our bed in the home that we share. Except that I roll over and wake myself up to tyoe this. Your breathing changes and you fall asleep. I think I'm done writing for the night.

Draft 5

I write creative nonfiction, and that means that I lay in your arms and think about how I would describe it, our bodies next to each other in the dark while it storms outside, how I ask you to leave the fan off so we can hear it. How can I write about your hand reaching up to cup my breast, the way your hips subtly push up against my ass, the way you moan almost imperceptibly when I push back against you, in a way that an editor would deem publishable? How do I capture the depth of love and passion between us, how no one else has ever loved me like you do, how every day with you is a joy, how you’re the kindest, most gentle person I’ve ever known, but how you can hold me down hard while your body moves above me in the dark and I stifle my moans so I don’t wake the kids? How do I present this moment, these feelings? My love for you, my love for us, how my body wants you and needs you. You collapse on top of me, gasping, and I think about what words I can use to describe the feeling of total satisfaction and contentment. I go to the bathroom after and notice there’s a burning sensation, and I worry about it, but I don’t want to worry you, because the sex was rougher than it usually is and maybe it’s just sensitive, but I think about how I’m glad I have a routine STD testing appointment scheduled this week because we did have a scare six months ago, and even though the results were negative, what if it was a false negative and something’s just been dormant since then? I brush my teeth and wash the makeup off my face as I wonder how I can explain the complexities of polyamory in a flash piece, because it’s supposed to be short, but I don’t want readers to think either of us cheated. How do I explain that we have other partners, how we navigate safe sex, and will that sort of ruin the romance of the piece, because then readers might get judgmental or say things like, “I can barely manage one relationship; I don’t know how anyone could do more than that.” Then I’d feel the need to write about mutual trust and lots of communication and scheduling and how it’s actually not that big of a deal and that they’re probably missing the point of my story, which is actually very sensual and sweet. I turn off the bathroom light and slide back into bed next to you. We kiss tenderly, say goodnight, and roll away. We usually touch butts while we sleep, but since you had that cold, you started sleeping more on your back, and tonight we don’t touch. I wonder if this is a moment I’ll look back on, if I should feel a sense of foreboding right now because this moment is the beginning of the end, when we stop touching butts at night and I don’t tell you about the burning sensation yet because I don’t want to ruin this peaceful moment, if someday I’ll look back on this and say, “Ah, yes, that’s where things started to go wrong.” But, I remind myself, this is not the plot of a story; this is just a prosaic night and I’m falling asleep next to someone I love after amazing sex, in the home that we share, in the life we’re living together. I relax. Your breathing next to me changes, deepens, as you fall into sleep. I roll over suddenly and grab my phone, open my Docs app, and I type the first draft of this piece. There are fragments of sentences and misspelled words and misplaced capital letters. I’ll edit in the morning. I’m done writing for the night.

Skylar Camp lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her two young kids, her partner, and their fuzzy kitty. She writes creative nonfiction that focuses on deconverting from Evangelical Christianity, divorce, polyamory, parenting, and more. Her work appears in several anthologies, Bi Women Quarterly, and is forthcoming in The Broadkill Review. She shares her thoughts on Instagram at @skylarcampwrites.