The “Volunteer” and Body Freedom

Imagine being at home, looking out your front window, and seeing your neighbor checking the mail or taking the trash to the curb.  Your neighbor is stark naked.  What do you do?  Do you call the police? And if so, why?  Is it because you think you are witnessing the “crime” of being naked in public and feel obligated to report it?  Or would you be worried about the mental state of your neighbor and want to get that person help?  Or, perhaps you have a live and let live attitude and just decide to ignore the neighbor’s behavior as you continue watching.  Would the gender and attractiveness of said neighbor affect your actions?

When you really think about it, why do we as a society have such an aversion to seeing an unclothed human body doing regular (i.e. non-sexual) things?  Is it because we associate nudity with sex?  Or is it because our media has so inundated us with images of what “attractive” bodies should look like that we just can’t stand to look at “normal” bodies?  Whatever the reason, society has conditioned most of us to react negatively to the sight of a nude body.

I have worked as a nude model for art classes for over 30 years, and these societal aversions to nudity have even found their way into the art studios as I am expected to be covered with a robe while not posing.  Since I love my job as a model and wish to be asked back to model again, I am not about to challenge such expectations.  I therefore tend to think of the model stand as a little oasis in a desert of textiles.  In this oasis, I can be free and pure, just as God created me, without having to hide from anyone.

While I’m posing, my mind, left to its own devices, tends to wander.  These wanderings provided the genesis of my novel The “Volunteer”.   The novel began, like most stories, with a “what if” question:  What if someone could be naked anywhere and everywhere?  During the development of the story and needing more conflict, that original question was changed to What if someone HAD to be naked everywhere?

Paperback Volunteer

The finished book has really been resonating with body freedom activists, those few who hope to challenge that societal aversion to nudity.  The following review was posted to the book’s Amazon page a couple of days ago:

Body Freedom Review

And within the last couple of months, the book was discussed on the blogs of two other body freedom activists.  The first was the first post of a new blog by a young lady in Oregon.  It can be seen here (be aware that the background image may not be NSFW, depending on where you work, of course):  http://brookesbarebody.blogspot.com/2017/07/living-nude-publicly.html .  The second post was by another author who has apparently been advocating body freedom for a number of years: https://fantasyramblings.blogspot.com/2017/07/i-get-to-be-nude.html

During the writing of The “Volunteer”, I never consciously tried to make a social statement; I was just trying to write a fun story, one that amused me and that I hoped would entertain those who read it.  It is gratifying to see it resonating with others.  As I work on the sequel (which will pick up right after The “Volunteer” and not 20 years later as the Amazon reviewer above suggested), I hope to continue challenging readers, giving them something that really resonates.

A Five Star Holiday Week

Today, July 5th, is International Read Naked Day, and The “Volunteer” would seem to be the perfect choice of book for that.  Today is also the one year anniversary of the release of The “Volunteer” on Kindle.  It has been an amazing year, and I’ve learned a lot about book promotion.  Hopefully, this will help me when I get the next book out.

The Fourth of July holiday week has been a good one since two new reader reviews have been posted to Amazon in the last three days.  Both of them have been five stars.  It is especially gratifying that so many people are coming back to Amazon to write about their experiences reading The “Volunteer”. Thank you all.

Fourth of July Reviews

 

Updates

I can’t believe that we are already at the last day of May.  I am still looking for a full time job, and I am still working on the sequel to The “Volunteer”.  My oldest son is graduating from high school this weekend, and we found out recently that his girlfriend is pregnant.  I’m not quite sure I’m old enough to be a grandparent, but it looks like that is happening regardless of my age.  The news of the baby came right before my layoff, which made said layoff more difficult to accept.  Talk about bad timing.

The audio book for The “Volunteer” should have been out by now, but we have run into some technical difficulties with the audio files.  Hopefully, we will get those resolved soon and get the audio book on the market.  I know a lot of readers prefer audio, and I hope to accommodate them in the near future.

Bareback Magazine will be publishing the first part of a serialized erotic novella of mine in their June issue.  The novella is called Class Demonstration, and I wrote it some time ago.  It’s currently seven parts, but now that I think about it, it needs an eighth chapter to give it a worthy conclusion.  At least I have another six months or so to write it.  Look for Part One of Class Demonstration on the Bareback Magazine website starting tomorrow.

And finally, here’s a screenshot of the latest five-star Amazon review of The “Volunteer”.  It’s very gratifying to see such reviews.  Each of the last seven posted reviews has been five stars.  Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to post their thoughts on the book.

Review 5 24

Working Life

It has been a strange few weeks.  I was laid off from my full-time job on March 29th.  The lay off was completely unexpected as the company was expecting new business soon and my department already had more work than our six-person team could handle.  I am, as of yet, unable to make a living solely from my writing income (although not working these past three weeks has allowed me more time to promote The “Volunteer” and sell more copies).  I would need a few more titles to be able to make a go of being a full time writer, but at least I now have more time for writing, at least for the time being.

Bukowski_McCarthy

I had recently posted links to a couple of articles on my Facebook timeline about writing and avoiding full-time employment.  One of those was written from an interview that Oprah Winfrey did with Cormac McCarthy in 2007.  McCarthy talked about avoiding getting stuck in a 9 to 5 job when he was young, even though he was bleakly poor at times.  He was quoted as saying, “I thought, ‘you’re just here once, life is brief and to have to spend every day of it doing what somebody else wants you to do is not the way to live it.’”  That article is here: http://www.openculture.com/2017/02/cormac-mccarthy-explains-why-he-worked-hard-at-not-working-how-9-to-5-jobs-limit-your-creative-potential.html

The second article was about a letter Charles Bukowski wrote to his publisher in 1986 about how he chose to quit his full time job and write full time.  That article includes the entire text of that letter, but these two paragraphs stand out:

And what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don’t want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out. They are bodies with fearful and obedient minds. The color leaves the eye. The voice becomes ugly. And the body. The hair. The fingernails. The shoes. Everything does.

As a young man I could not believe that people could give their lives over to those conditions. As an old man, I still can’t believe it. What do they do it for? Sex? TV? An automobile on monthly payments? Or children? Children who are just going to do the same things that they did?

That article is here: http://www.openculture.com/2014/07/charles-bukowski-rails-against-9-to-5-jobs.html

My current situation, with the mortgage, the kids, the bills, etc., demands that I bring in a certain amount of income, and I just can’t reach that income level from writing alone.  So I do have to look for another job.  But I find inspiration in the words of McCarthy and Bukowski, that there is another way, that I can change my situation and totally commit to my writing.

 

In Production

I am very happy to announce that the audio book edition of The “Volunteer” is now in production.  It is being narrated by the talented voice actor Loral Miller, who sounds like I envisioned Dani’s voice sounding.  We hope to have the audio book live on Amazon and Audible.com some time in March.  The “Volunteer” continues to be available in paperback and Kindle editions, of course.  In the meantime, here is the cover for the upcoming audio edition…

thevolunteer-audiobook1

Book Addict

“My name is D.H. Jonathan, and I am a book addict.”  If I ever join a recovery program, that is what I would say.  Over the past couple of weeks, I have made four or five trips to one of the local bookstores.  “I’m just going to browse but not buy anything,” I tell myself, but I always walk out with something.

Building off my last blog post, I am just finishing Carrie Fisher’s very funny Postcards from the Edge.  There have been several times while reading that I have laughed out loud.  Reading it now makes me even sadder that she is gone.

Thanks to my recent bookstore trips, I have several books to chose from as my next read.  I have been going through past winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and I have in my recently purchased stack The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis, and The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron.  I also have a copy of Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones that I won in a Goodreads giveaway.  And there’s also The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos, but as that is the first book of a trilogy that has often been called one long novel, reading that will necessitate another trip to the bookstore for the other two books.

books.jpg

I’ll enjoy the last quarter of Postcards from the Edge before I make up my mind…