It's Like Breathing To Me: Interview With Lola Davina
Whenever I talk about sex work with someone from outside the industry, they fixate on two annoying questions: Why did you start? (Why not?) And how did you get out? (I quit.) These questions annoy me because they avoid the juicy meat of the experience. So do a lot of resources for sex workers. Mainstream culture’s got help for getting out and tips for not getting into sex work, but Lola Davina has written a book about life in the industry. What’s more, she wants to talk about a whole lot more than survival in that industry. “I wrote this as the book I wished I'd had doing that complex emotional labor. It's been tremendously gratifying to hear from my readers that the book connects,” Lola says.
As a retired-and-out sex worker, Thriving in Sex Work: Heartfelt Advice for Staying Sane in the Sex Industry connects to straight to my heart. I’m so proud to introduce this valuable and vital resource to you. In this interview, Lola told me how she writes and what’s coming next. And her answer to my standard sexy writer interview question will blow you away.
Kristy Lin Billuni: Tell me about your writing process first.
Lola Davina: That old aphorism is true: A writer writes. I've written my whole life, whether it be creative projects, grant-writing, academic writing, or now, a self-help book.
KLB: So, you just do it then.
LD: Yes, it's like breathing to me--it's rarely a strain. It's just what I start doing when I wake up in the morning.
KLB: A lot of writers struggle to make time or space for their writing.
LD: I'm very lucky to have a situation where I'm well supported, both time-wise and materially.
KLB: So, lay it out for me. What does it look like when you spend a day writing?
LD: Open eyes, roll over, pick up laptop. Type until I have to pee. Be nice to the dog, the manpanion, feed the body. Back to bed or the desk or the sofa with the laptop. Repeat all day until sleep.
KLB: And how do you treat yourself when you’ve accomplished something as a writer?
LD: I hate to say it, but I hardly ever do anything nice for myself or even celebrate in any way. It'd feel like treating myself because I'm 5'8". I just don't see the point. Which is funny, because I totally love boogying down to other people's successes.
KLB: I know this inspiring and empowering book you should read. It reminded me to celebrate myself for my skills and talents. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s called Thriving In Sex Work.
LD: Ha! Yes, thanks. I am celebrating this book. The paperback version of Thriving in Sex Workjust came out.
KLB: Congratulations. It’s really such a triumph for sex workers and for you.
LD: I've been surprised by how many people want the physical book. The feedback I'm getting is that for many sex workers, who feel so starved for validation and positive representation, holding the book itself, the actual artifact, is quite powerful.
KLB: I feel that way about it. I guess that’s why I have compared it to Our Bodies Ourselves and The Artist’s Way. Both of those books were these seminal gifts to their communities, to women and to creative people, respectively. Your book is that kind of gift. We need it so much, I can hardly believe it finally exists. Tell me about the seed inspiration.
LD: I worked in sex work over a 15-year period, and all that time, I was starved for advice, validation, support, and love.
KLB: I’m so inspired by your hard work to create this resource you wish you'd had. What’s next?
LD: My next project is writing a workbook as an accompaniment to Thriving, so I'm reading a ton of workbooks.
KLB: Oh, that’s perfect. What have you found?
LD: Most are fairly predictable; safe and comforting. But Kate Bornstein is a gloriously expansive thinker, a jokester, a prankster, always trying to help us think different, and get to the juicy deliciousness that births new ideas into the world.
KLB: Oh, yes, her gender workbook?
LD: Right, My New Gender Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving World Peace Through Gender Anarchy and Sex Positivity and Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws are wicked masterpieces. I recommend them to all creative people.
KLB: Your book isn’t just about sex, but sex is the centerpiece for so many professionals in the industry. And sex and writing have both been themes for you in your work life. What do you think sex and writing have to do with each other?
LD: The urge to write is erotic. It's a stirring to be seen, a craving to be heard. Reading is erotic-- it's an act of submission, receptivity, acceptance. If there is no desire, and no fulfillment of desire, there can be no connection between author and audience.
I love to talk to writers like Lola Davina about the process of writing. Follow Lola on Twitter and especially if you are or know a working professional in the sex industry, buy Thriving In Sex Work. To meet more writers in social media, follow me, The Sexy Grammarian, on Twitter and check out my (NSFW) Sex Work Power Twitter list. Or share books with me on GoodReads. Yearning to jump into the writer’s life yourself? My free ebook, Arouse Your Writer Self, will get you going. Want more? Private sessions with me are more affordable than you think, and the first one’s free.