Craig Sorensen

Warm Comforts on Naked Flesh

©2010 Craig J. Sorensen

I suppose the photo that accompanies my thoughts on the subject of nudity is pretty tame, but I’m comfortable with that.  Comfortable on many levels.

Let me explain.

This picture was taken of me back during one of my forays into writing before I became dedicated to it a few years back.  I was working on a story idea that extends back to my childhood.  Call it a fantasy novel, for lack of better, though it has no elements of sorcery or the supernatural.  But the ancient world within it is from my mind, so technically it is a fantasy.  I was so intent on the writing that day that I didn’t know the picture was being taken.  For some reason, when I know I’m being photographed, my face hardens and I don’t like the way I look.

This surprise photo, taken by my wife when I was intent on writing, is comfort number 1.

Back when I was writing that fantasy novel I was disorganized, given to scattered thoughts.  I formulated settings and people in my mind and a basic premise and started writing.  It was a naïve way to go, but as I look back, it was essential in my creative development.  But for the bold way I approached developing my story, I was cautious in how I told them.  I was very bound by what I thought might be acceptable socially, and limited how far I might be able to go with my characters.  I pushed the envelope by exploring sexuality, but in a careful manner.

To some extent, these limitations and my quiet tendency to struggle with them, may have been why I was fascinated by nudity from a very early age.  This took me down a strange road where pushing limits met with innocence; it was to be a collision course.

Back in the early 1970’s, before my voice cracked, I discovered that a friend shared my fascination with nudity.  We used to sleep out under the stars in our back yards during the long, pleasant Idaho summers.  Often we’d just lie and look at the twinkles in the sky, but it progressed to where we joined forces, casting aside the bonds of our clothes.   It started in the back yard, behind the safety of a tall fence, but we could not be restrained, and we began to venture out, running side by side.

I have no idea how many times we did this, but a long string of successful forays made us cocky.   We never really thought how hard our feet could hit the ground.  But one night it was hard enough that we weren’t the only ones that knew we were running.  We were about half way around the outside of back fence the first time we heard my father’s voice.  We slowed and stared at each other a couple of times as he called again.  We went to the front door.  Of course, it was locked.  I’m not sure if we thought we could get away with finding some of my clothes and getting dressed, then coming back out.  That point was moot.

We had nothing to do but face the music.

I’ll never forget the shocked looks on my parents’ faces as we walked together through the gate into the back yard.  My dad said one word: “Naked?”  I cannot adequately describe the sound of his voice.  My friend and I spent the rest of the night securely in my room and, not too surprisingly, our friendship became limited by external forces.  We drifted apart to become not much more than acquaintances as we grew up.

But that warm Idaho night was not the last time I ran bare.  Just the last time with him.  I ran bare numerous times before streaking was all the rage, and I continued to explore taking chances running nude for years to come.  It was a sporadic thing that satisfied something in me.  Something ineffable, mysterious, and something I didn’t really fathom; it was as much a compulsion as a desire.

A few years back I began writing daily.  I went back to the fantasy novel that had run rampant in my head since I was a boy.  I finished it, but I didn’t know what to do with it; it was an oddball and I was a literary unknown.  This was an unseen blessing.  I decided I needed to write something in a more established genre.  I tried my hand at literary stories, and found I don’t have the passion for it.  One submission even came back with the hand written note, “you write very well, but this story lacked vitality.”  On a chance occurrence, I submitted an erotic story, one of two that I had written during my literary phase, to a fledgling e-magazine and to my surprise, it was instantly accepted.  Though this first effort was not published because the magazine folded, I had found where my lamp burned brightest.

Now I had to allow myself to write stories to my inner voice.  Even the grubby story that had been accepted, very dark by my standards, had an element of restraint, and not in a delicious, kinky-bondage way.  I was channeling my deeper passions into something darker as a bit of distraction, but I didn’t know that then.  I look at it now as being a reflection of society, the very violent but sexual story justified its sexuality in that violence.

In a sense, my headlong run into erotica, and being more honest in my voice, was a figurative stripping away of clothes.  It wasn’t instantaneous, with all clothes shed in a moment, but was a peeling of layers and it all started with that dark story that later did get published.  This is comfort number 2.

I do not feel the urge to physically run nude anymore.  Back in the day my physical self, as it were, reached out because my creativity sat in restraints.

Nowadays, I do not accept the mantle of clothes as a personal preference, but as a citizen of our current society.  I’m as comfortable nude as clothed, and I remain clothed in deference.  This is fine with me, because I’m naked in what I write.  Comfort number 3.

The last time I was bare outside was not long before I took to writing in earnest, not long before I set on this journey to cast the more insidious clothing of my creative self aside.  I didn’t run, but just got up into a tree coated in summer leaves one night while it was raining.  I hadn’t planned to get naked, but it just felt so right.  I stood nestled within the tree and listened to the rain fall, and took a few drops that got past the leaves to my skin.  Comfort number 4.

It was probably less than a year after that I was deeply into my writing.

Quite frankly, as I reach toward age fifty and my love of good food has its way with my outer form, I think the light of my nude writing is more flattering than my current physical state.  Method author that I am, I know that I can and do run whenever I want with my pen.  My body can take many forms, and I know that my face won’t contort if someone points a proverbial camera at me.

If there are some shocked faces as I continue to explore this form of nudity, I take comfort that I’ve learned to appreciate them over time.

I write on.  Comfort complete.

By day Craig J. Sorensen busies himself in the information technology field, which he has worked in since before the iconic introduction of the IBM PC.  He has been writing even longer.  A lover of the nudity of words, he has learned to undress himself in many ways over the years.  His works can be found online and in print anthologies and journals internationally.  His focus has recently turned from short stories to novel length works, including a book based on his experiences in a Military Intelligence unit in West Germany around 1980.

Sorensen lives in south-central Pennsylvania with his supportive and talented family.

To find out more, check his blog at just-craig.blogspot.com

27 Responses to “Craig Sorensen”

  1. Ack, lost comment.

    I loved the photo (every house should have a writer sitting shirtless at his la[top 🙂 and naked/running/writing analogies and stories. A fond smile for your free spirited childhood. My brother in law and his friends have happy memories of running drunkenly round a field in nothing but their boots one night. It should be far more accepted, really 🙂

    I don’t think your face is hard,there, just concentrated. You remind me of my husband who was always having people tell him they saw him down the town and asking what was wrong, until he caught his fierce reflection in a shop window and realised his resting expression was just naturally grumpy.

  2. Hi Craig,
    I hope you know just how fond I am of you as a person, as a gorgeous writer, and as a man who is deeply in love with his family. You’re so inspiring and all those qualities warm my heart.

    I laughed at the thought of you and your friend running naked and then laughed louder when you were “busted” by your own parents! Ack! Mortifying to say the least. Curious to know: was that incident ever discussed afterwards? I’m thinking a week or so goes by and you think you’re in the clear and then one night as you slip into your customary seat at the dinner table…your dad springs, “so, what the hell were you doing buck-ass naked…? Gulp.

    I think something happens to us once we strip free of the “societal confines” and just say, “aaah, fuck it” I’m getting naked. To be naked is a state of mind, me thinks. Oh, and BTW: I got “me thinks” from you. Thanks for that. 🙂

    I love learning more about your process of becoming the writer you are today. “…I’m as comfortable nude as clothed, and I remain clothed in deference. This is fine with me, because I’m naked in what I write….” so well stated and so true. This resonates for me as both expressing and exposing the truth. You do it well, Craig.

    May you keep getting naked so we as readers can reap the rewards.

    p.s. please tell your beautiful wife, nice job on the photo. It’s extraodinary in every way.

  3. Thank you Jo.

    The laptop before me in the photo is actually a mid 1970’s powder blue (very manly, eh?) Smith-Corona electric typewriter. I actually have the pages I was typing at the time in a three ring binder in the basement. My prose back then was pretty weak, and sometimes I go back and read it as a reference point.

    Actually, one of the things I like about the picture is that I don’t look hardened. I’ve gotten better about this as I’ve gotten older, I just seem to have a natural tendency to contort before a camera. The truth remains that I do have a bit of a hard face sometimes, even when I don’t mean to.

    That’s a cool story about your brother-in-law and his friend.

    Slainte!

  4. Wow Neve, methinks you make me blush!

    My dad, who died in the early 90’s, would joke from time to time about my running naked. I imagine I embarrassed his sensibilities, but I also know he and I were very alike in the most important ways, just separated by a generation. My youth was the dawn of the sexual revolution, his being of the depression / WWII era.

    My folks limited my friendship to the guy I’d run with, as if he was the bad element. 😉 As I said, it wasn’t the last time, and he wasn’t the last person I ran naked with, just the last one they caught me with.

    Thanks so much for your part in creating and administering F-stop. It’s been a freeing experience.

  5. For a writer, I’m not really very articulate. So I’m just going to say I found your post moving and heart-warming, Craig. The going-nakedness of writing is a daily challenge and an inspiration to live a full and realised life, however the years pile up on us.

    And I like your picture.
    🙂

  6. erobintica Says:

    Damn! I lost my comment too! What’s up with that? Okay, while it’s still fresh…

    Craig, this was lovely and touching. Your retelling of the story of the naked run was both amusing and poignant. Maybe because I also experienced a friendship “limited by external forces” at probably a similar age, and I’ve always wondered what became of my friend.

    I’m always fascinated by hearing about other writer’s journeys. Seems for most of us the path is twisted and overgrown. And that’s probably a good thing (for the writing itself). This – “naked in what I write” – is what makes the difference. Maybe that’s what writing is, an attempt to get naked.

    The photo is lovely (thank you DeeDee). And it is wonderful to have the male voice and image represented here.

  7. Craig, this is such a marvelously revealing and inspiring essay. I’m not sure where to begin, but first let me say that your father’s “Naked?” with all the complex intonation I’m now imagining in his voice (including perhaps some envy?), is the question we are answering with every post on this blog.

    That photo, whew, it has such a golden glow, a truly spiritual quality that reminds me what a spiritual practice writing is. And of course, this was taken with DeDe’s very artistic and loving eye, which also comes through in the warmth of the photo. But what I find most uplifting (hey, it is Sunday) is this chance to see you “in the zone” as a writer, a place that gives us so many wonderful, brave and moving stories.

    And of course, it is very inspiring to hear about your path to erotica writing and the way you translate your fascination with nakedness into art. Thanks so much for this amazing essay!

  8. Thank you Janine. I’m glad that you found this tale touching, and can relate to the challenges of letting ourselves go as authors.

  9. Sorry to hear you lost your comments, Robin, and thank you for persevering!

    There is actually a bit of a story behind that friend after we parted ways. I’ll make it a point to blog about it sometime soon.

    Seems for most of us the path is twisted and overgrown. And that’s probably a good thing (for the writing itself).

    Hear, hear to that. It certainly has been for me.

  10. I reserve a special thank you for you, Donna.

    As you know, I was initially reluctant to post to this project, but the way you presented the ideals and objectives inspired me to challenge myself. To dig deeper, and isn’t that what writing, and especially writing erotica, is all about.

    After a little consideration, I was able to take on this theme in a way that fit the concept as well as my point of view as a writer. I can truly say I’ve gotten a great deal from this. It’s such a pleasure to be sharing it in such a welcoming setting.

    Thank you, my friend.

  11. This does render one a little speechless doesn’t it. First, that gorgeous photo, and then the gorgeous thoughts that go with it. It is all so deliciously revealing.
    Stripped down to the bare essentials in the process of writing.

    A similar scene happened to me very young and exploring at a friends in Rochester. We snuck out in the middle of the night to see her boyfriend who was camping in the nextdoor back yard. Going out we knocked over a milk bottle (!) in the stairway. Not long after we got outside, we heard her father’s voice behind us, saying her name probably in that same tone your father used with ‘Naked?’ We went in and were dressed down and they said, ‘we knew you were up to something, why do you think there was a milk bottle in the middle of the stairway?’

    We vowed never to do anything like THAT again. Without a flashlight.

    Just as I bet you wished you’d had your shorts with you!

    Running naked, swimming naked, just being naked is so freeing. This is why I love summer. And your metaphor of being naked on the page, so to speak (SG), is wonderful and so clearly expressed. Thanks Craig.

  12. Thank you Isabel.

    I love your story about sneaking out in the middle of the night. Yes, that was our first comment to each other (how difficult would it have been to carry our shorts?)

    In the end, I think we both knew it was the leaving them behind that made the whole act feel so thrilling. As I mentioned, I did it later and didn’t carry clothes then either. Guess it can be said I didn’t learn too fast.

    Hopefully that’s what I do with my writing. Leave the safety of my clothes behind when I set to writing. 🙂

  13. God this was so beautiful Craig. The picture, first, struck me as quite so, and I felt almost lulled by the seamless captivation of what you wrote. “Lulled” actually isn’t the right word—it sounds passive or inattentive, which is not what I meant at all. “Entranced” works better.

    “I’m as comfortable nude as clothed”

    I really, by the way, relate to this. (Probably my own contribution here will include that.)

    Like Robin, I experienced the mention of your friendship being “limited by external forces” as sad/poignant too (I was very interested in your response about mentioning more about it on your blog), though it sounded as though at least the two of you kept in touch to some degree.

    I found it seriously moving and heartening when I read your comment, “I can truly say I’ve gotten a great deal from this.” The opportunity to even witness it feels like an honor to me.

    Thank you, so much, for sharing this here Craig. And once again, I really, really love your picture choice for this offering. Thank you to DeDe for its materialization. 🙂

  14. Thank you Em. I’m so glad to have “entranced” you, and am glad you can relate to what I feel.

    The opportunity to even witness it feels like an honor to me.

    I’m honored that you are a part of it.

    And that goes for all who have taken the time to comment as well as those who just read. This is such a freeing thing, the exact opposite of the little tale I kept to myself, those in my family that knew of it, and with DeDe who I told about it many years ago. In a sense, I hid my own comfort in my nudity behind the social stigma of being caught trying to buck it at a young age.

    I hope this makes sense.

  15. Well, it’s just a sad thing, the stigma. That being happy naked is seen as shameful. I mean it shouldn’t be an issue. It’s not like it’s … anything. You’re just braver than most. More comfortable than most.

    I did read an article by a journalist whose parents had been naturists, and she said they called non-naked people ‘textiles’. How cute is that?

  16. Textiles? I love that!

  17. Craig,
    Just a quick return to say, thank you so much for being brave and diving into F-stop! Kudos to Donna for convincing you. I’m so impressed with your sense of self – and your constant desire to keep evolving not only as a person, but also as a writer –

    You made this site very special by adding your own thoughts of what exposing means to you. I’m grateful for your inner search. I’m so happy that you found this experience to be cathartic and healthy.

    Keep on writing my friend –

  18. It was a great privilege and a marvelous treat to read this thoughtful, now-*un*buried treasure of a narrative, Craig! And that’s the naked truth.

  19. Thank you again, Neve. I’m so glad I joined you here, and have thoroughly enjoyed it!

  20. Thank you for reading my little tale. I’m so glad you enjoyed!

  21. Of course, that last message was directed to Jeremy. Well, I guess that’s not so obvious since I neglected to include the name and hit the submit comment before I noticed that!

  22. Craig – the photo is stunning. Having met you in person not so long ago, I’m actually struck by the similarities to now – you are definitely the same “you” now as you were then, if that makes sense. DeeDee really captured the serenity and self-assurance that you exude – someone who was and is comfortable in his own skin!

    I’ve nothing more to add to what’s been said, except my thanks, as well, for sharing these beautiful words.

  23. Craig,

    You should have seen the big, happy grin on my face when I read this! I’m not sure if running around the wilds of Oregon and Washington is connected to my writing directly, but it sure is connected to my sense of place and peace in the world. Air flowing across my bare skin or cool water wrapped around my body on a starry night is so incredibly freeing.

    Taking it all off also involves sharing parts of ourselves that we can’t reveal in the cold, cruel world of “everyday life.” Who would understand? Who would accept us?

    The way you write and your openness and your passion dissolves all of that completely. It is a good reminder that there are many ways to strip down to the bare essentials…..and run wild.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  24. I am so happy to have put such a grin on your face, Gina. In reading your works, I think I can see how your freedom of body and spirit comes through in what you write, and that makes your thoughts on my little tale all the sweeter!

    Thank you for joining in.

  25. It’s a pensive photo, and a very enlightened and pensive essay, Craig. Well done!

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