Alongside the round-up of all the things I read in 2015, I was going to write a quick summary of what I’ve managed to write here over the last 12 months. Despite the odd wobble, blogging has become a really important part of my life this year, and I’m actually very proud of some of the essays and stories I’ve managed to publish.
It was only as I started to put the post together in my head that I realised how difficult I’d find it to write something that self-absorbed (ah, blogger irony). The whole “hey, this post was awesome and this post was awesome” thing doesn’t come easily when it’s my own stuff I’m talking about.
That’s when I decided to pass the buck to a whole bunch of friends, lovers, blogging acquaintances, and generally lovely people. “Pick a post of mine, any post,” I said, expecting a dozen different answers from a dozen different respondents. As it happened – and much to my surprise – a degree of consensus emerged.
Three pieces in particular stood out this year, apparently, and that in itself was something I found genuinely fascinating – as the author, it’s sometimes hard to step back and objectively place one piece of work above another, but hey, other people will apparently come do that for you if you’re shameless enough to ask!
So yes, here’s my ‘best of 2015’, as judged by a bunch of the lovely people who helped to make it such a good, creative, happy year. Enjoy, and I’ll see you again in 2016!
“I knew that choosing one post from the many Exhibit A wrote in 2015 was going to be hard, but it proved to be even more difficult than I thought. I have a lot of favorite pieces – some are favorites for personal reasons and others simply because they’re excellent. In the end, I cheated and chose three. 30 Hours in Amsterdam, which he wrote in January 2015, set the foundation for what became something of a suite. It’s a set of achy, sexy, beautiful snapshots of a relationship’s progression from punch-drunk euphoria to complication and regret. Two posts followed later in the year – Bookend (Side 1) and Bookends (Side 2). They pick up and fill in the relationship Exhibit A wrote about in the Amsterdam post. But these posts, rather than providing snapshots of that relationship, explore it more deeply after a pivotal meeting between Exhibit A and his ex. The openness of Side 1 and the perspective in Side 2 do more than tell the story of this relationship. They illustrate the effect that relationship had on him, and it’s for this reason that I couldn’t separate the three. Read them together or read them separately, but read them. They are beautiful. In fact, they are some of the best writing I’ve read all year.”
“I love both parts, but part one particularly. It has that quality of writing that I yearn for as a reader where words resonate so clearly that you have to look away from the text, to give space and time for one’s own feelings surge into you again. You painted so vividly that anyone who had ever been lucky enough to tumble into love and lust together would be feel it. The pace too is perfect, just as I was lulled into nostalgia and romance, you ‘fuck her on the bonnet of my (your) car at Heathrow’. An electric jolt that keeps the whole piece sparkling. Reading it again today I find myself hoping for another outcome, as I do in reading other great love stories where although I already know the ending, I hope for a reprieve.
I said to you before, I ached when I read it, I think it is the ache of youthful wanting that you allowed us to feel again, dull and at the same time sharp, somewhere between the shoulder blades, and reading it today I felt that ache again.”
“I am going for Bookends – I know that is really cheating because it is two posts but they are a pair. I love the tenderness of these posts. They feel deeply honest and vulnerable. They also show the passage of time, experience and hurt as well as how tender feelings can remain even when things end. The difference in the styles of the two pieces sums up the way that life changes as we go.”
“So being asked to choose a favourite post from Mister A? That’s so tough! I don’t think I haven’t enjoyed a single piece of his work – stories, articles and photos. His work is always sensual, erotic, eloquent and sometimes filthy as hell. I *cough* may have needed a moment or two after experiencing some of his posts – I say experience because you to do more than read them, you are brought in and involved.I admire his honesty, curiosity, vulnerability – and willingness to discuss it all, there for us all to explore with him.Brilliant stuff! And now to why I chose, Capture as my favourite. It is Mister A’s first Masturbation Monday and is all about a couple, a camera and an extra gent. Those of you who are familiar with my own work might know that I’m obsessed with the artist/ muse dynamic and this story has it all. The photographer, she, is taking a shot of her partner and another guy. Things heat up between them and she goes from voyeur to participant as they all realise this was something they’d wanted to share all along. I love how art can facilitate and open up all sorts events that we might be too shy to vocalise.Oh – and it’s very hot.”
“I’m going for Capture although it’s hard to just choose one. I think it’s a great example of how well you write the female POV, I love her inner dialogue, and as a voyeur myself, the fact that she’s watching the men is perfect and beautifully described. It is very sexy writing but it also has a tenderness and emotional context that I love. “The way they fuck is nourishing, or at least that’s how she thinks of it.” Such a great line.”
“I thought I was going to choose Woken because it is the first one that came to mind and I have returned to that post more than once! I love so much about it – not just the voyeurism but the secret spy-like qualities of her voyeurism and of course the MM dynamic, but in the end it could only be Capture. Capture has voyeurism and MM but also photography, so what is there not to love for me? I love incorporating photography into intimate moments with partners but bringing in a third person into a dynamic is a regularly drawn on fantasy and one I hope to translate into reality before too long, so this post taps directly into that. And I really love how the camera is a symbol of her growing confidence. Perfect on all fronts!”
“How do I pick a favourite post of Exhibit A’s 2015 writing? Do I chose one that is so hot it leaves me breathless? Do I pick one where he has woven the simplest words into the most beautiful story? Knowing the man, do I pick one that most reminds me of him? One where I smile in recognition of him hidden within his words?
In the end, I’ve picked Maybe. The one that made me feel the most. I remember exactly when I first read it and how it was at a time when I was struggling to contain the strength of my own feelings. This didn’t exactly help… I remember how, to steal EA’s words, it left my heart feeling ‘sort of clenched and bruised and ach(ing), all at the same time.’ Reading it again today, it awakens the same emotions, the same need to open my arms to hold and protect him. I love it…”
“I’ve just been to a wedding where the best man’s partner went into labour and had twin girls. Where my sister was with her 5mth old daughter, where my other sister didn’t make the journey from London with her 4mth old daughter. We are surrounded by daughters but…. there’s a hint sometimes in the conversations about how that might be a let down. To be fair, not at this wedding. Not at all. But my 5mth old niece …. her paternal grandparents ‘tactfully’ asked their son if he was disappointed that he had a girl.
He was suitably offended. My father, who has 4 daughters (and 3 grandaughters) – was actually commiserated with when his 3rd daughter was born.
And every bloke I’ve EVER been with who has talked about wanting kids has exclusively talked about how much having a son would mean to them. Never how much a daughter would mean. And I was elated to finally hear a guy talk about it; not just how he ‘didn’t mind what he had’ but to actually want and yearn for that special father daughter relationship…. I repeated the details of this piece ad nauseum to anyone who would listen. And I know I still will. Because I am a woman and I want the birth of any girl to be as welcome as any boy. And because I have a very special relationship with my Dad and I like having that recognised. I wish more guys were able to see the beauty and worth in it before they had a child.
“Because I love the creativity and gameness in your Sinful Sundays. I love that you have become really thoughtful about them, that you are inspired. Don’t get me wrong, I love them all, but it’s beautiful to see how you’ve grown in concept and composition over the years you’ve been doing them. Also, your Sinful Sundays are what inspired me to start a blog and its the best thing I’ve ever done.
Forgive my brief foray into sap, but your example and encouragement and interest in me as a person you wanted to fuck and as a person full stop (both equally important in the beginning) helped me to be brave, take risks, feel worthy. It’s no small thing. So thanks (and eternal gratitude) for that.”
“This year, Exhibit A once again promised me a story for the Superotica Advent Calendar. Last year’s story came in late, so naturally I wasn’t surprised when this year’s deadline passed with no sign of a story from him. I waited. And waited. And wondered about an emergency replacement for the spot… And then it finally arrived, less than four hours before it was due to go live. Luckily, the story he wrote, a saucy delight about sex in a brutalist car park in Croydon, more than made up for it’s heart-in-mouth timing… You can read Upward Management on Superotica.”
“This post really connects with how I’ve felt about lots of ‘sexual experiences’ since I started HGG. My mind has been opened, and I’ve changed. And I think that’s what is at the heart of that post. How experience changes us.”
“So of course there are lots of posts I enjoyed a lot, was moved by, turned on by … I was thinking I’d choose one of the ex girlfriend post because I’m touched by their honesty and rawness as well as their intensity and romance. But then as I was scrolling back through, I remembered this ‘Size Matters’ post and how kind it was. How sweetly reassuring.I loved the window to the other side aspect of it, but most of all the emphatic positivity of it. That it’s a thorough, affectionate statement of appreciation of the cunt, and it’s a warm, beautiful piece for it. It’s so easy to read things that make you feel worse, or worried, or insecure, orless. Reading this made me feel valued and relieved and put at ease, and it was a nice feeling.”
“The world of kink (from the outside looking in) always seems to be about the physical side of things and how the physical acts can effect people. It seems very rare (to me at least) that people talk about verbal kinks and their limitations. Until reading this post I had never really thought about them before but afterwards I realised that they play a massive part in how I/we enjoy sex. I know there are certain words that can either turn me on or trigger me into a downward spiral.
Someone like Exhibit A discussing this and being so frank and honest about his experiences made me realise that we all have things we dislike about ourselves, sometimes these things can be used to turn us on and other times they can’t, basically it all depends on the person you are with, what you each enjoy and how honest you want to be with them.”