The Shadow in Naturist Fiction

It is overcast with intermittent showers occurring as I write this post at the beginning of September. It isn’t one of those days that inspire one to drop all of one’s clothing and race outside to bask in nature. Shadows from the sun are replaced with a duller darkness where no shadows are visible. The shadow has lost its distinct separateness and becomes a pervasive condition. I know that high above, once one gets through the thick and threatening clouds, there is sunshine. It’s an intellectual knowledge that comes with life experience.

So what has this bit of descriptive truth about my outer world morning have to do with writing? It has everything to do with telling a story. Obviously, it is based on experience, and experience that is personalised and relatable to readers. I wrote what I see and feel about a moment and it rings true. Clouds belong in every story if the story is to be believable.

There is nothing wrong with a story that is all sunshine and roses. We all need these “feel good” stories which make for pleasant reading, especially when all we want to do is to step outside of normal life into a world where there are no shadows that lurk like some sinister threat in the background. We like these stories as they are so different from our own lives which are plagued with changeable weather. One minute life is good, and the next minute we are in some version of hell or the underworld.

Introducing the “shadow” into a story is an invitation for the reader to enter into a complex world that mirrors some aspect of their own lives. I write realistic stories that feel as though the writer is telling us the truth, a true story. The shadow is present though not overbearing. There is relief with sunshine highlighting parts of the main characters journey. Readers relate to the dark side of life as they all live through their own moments of darkness, despair, fear, and even anger.

So where does this fit into naturist fiction? Well, simple answer is, naturists don’t live in a perfect universe of perpetual sunshine. If we are to tell our stories, we have to be honest with ourselves and our readers. The last thing we want to do is to create a fairy tale universe which can never be matched in the real world. Too high expectations can leave some so bitter that they divorce themselves from naturism, just as those entering into a marriage with a magical other feels betrayed when that magical other turns out to be just another flawed human being. Too often this results in bitter disappointment and divorce.

A healthy dose of the shadow keeps us honest as writers and as humans.

5 thoughts on “The Shadow in Naturist Fiction”

  1. Hi Robert
    I have read all your books and very much appreciate the naturist fiction blog. I have been attempting to write fiction/plays since I was a teenager (I am now 73). I have also been a naturist for the same amount of time. My wife and I started going to Club Orient in 1990 and after that Sorobon for 10 years until they closed. I am a member at Cypress Cove here I’m Florida. I want to relive my experiences in fiction but I am poor at plot development. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Robert. The best place to start is to write little vignettes, those scenes that you want to capture. Once you have wrestled with as many scenes as you can think of, then it is time to read what you have written and see if more comes up which you can add to each vignette, or create new ones. Give them some space and time to percolate before you return to them. Take each vignette and expand upon them. When all of that is done, perhaps a story line will emerge. Thanks for reading all of my books and our blog site posts.

  2. Nicely said, Robert.

    I think that this is an especially good thing to remember for those of us who so much prefer to live our lives as much as possible without clothes. I think that part of the apologetic for living without clothes is that “one can be more authentic, more transparently who one is” when one is wearing nothing.

    But the truth is, we all have our shadow selves: and, while on one hand, the shadow self maybe my “unlived life” that needs to be expressed, and can be expressed more authentically by living naked, that position does have a certain a-morality to it; and on the other hand, there is the aspect of the shadow that can be exploitative of others, that may wantonly do harm to another.

    So whether one is composing naturist fiction or whether one is composing one’s life, it’s important to be conscious, not only of one’s shadow, but also of whether the shadow is benign, beneficent, or malevolent. One has to recognize the shadow, whether as a writer of naturist fiction or whether in one’s own life: and consciously to ask whether (as psychologist James Hillman put it) one is “acting ON one’s shadow” or whether one is “acting OUT one’s shadow.”

    The writer of naturist fiction must, of course, make the fiction plausible: and that requires active awareness of one’s own shadow. But those of us who prefer to live our lives as nakedly as possible, to include literal nakedness, I think it’s important to be the more conscious of when we are using shadow as an opportunity for the exploitation of others, and when we are using it as an opportunity for the empowerment of others.

    Allen

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