I like creativity – in just about every form it comes in. Artists fill me will wonder; I hang on the words spun by storytellers; chefs make me squeal with delight. Designers, architects – I’m sure you get the picture by now. Creativity delights me. So unsurprisingly, creative play partners are among my favourite partners to play with. Those who can take me on a thrilling ride of emotions and sensations, uncertain of what comes next without being too overwhelmed so we can keep playing. I think that’s the kind of play creates a little bit of magic – or maybe the word I’m looking for here is ecstasy.
And the most wonderful bit is that I am more than a blank canvas for my partner. I’m the paint too. I actively help to create these moments by opening myself wide to my partners, giving them bits and pieces of myself so, where my partner a chef, they had access to the biggest range of ingredients I could offer them. That means I can’t just provide someone all the nice stuff and expect a dynamic scene that is truly satisfying to me. Providing the biggest range of ingredients means that I need to let my partners know what will make me moan with pleasure as well as pain, what while bring shrieks of delight and shrieks of anger. Things that often lead to tears and the fastest method to turn them back off. How to zone me out and how to bring my focus.
The trust factor comes with how these elements are put into use. Trusting that my artist will use the right combinations and patterns to make a masterpiece instead of…. well, less than. I’m not talking anything non-consensual, no risk of danger or bodily harm, just when creation doesn’t fully connect. Or when you give someone the power to make you nothing but unhappy and they choose to go that route. That’s why, even when you’re art, it’s important to remember your agency. You can call the scene and walk away at any point. You can remember who used the tools you gave them in a way that you liked and who didn’t. It’s not a waste of a scene, it’s information that will help you refine your partner selection and negotiation process.
Great players aren’t born; they’re made, and failure is part of what goes into making a great player too. Sometimes you have taste a dish before you realize it needs way less chilli and more nutmeg. Sometimes it takes days of staring at a painting before you realize it wouldn’t be *finished* until you had a stripe of green to the lower left corner. Learning your partner’s body, their reactions which breath means what, how far is too far and how far is just enough? All of this knowing what to do differently next time takes the kind of skill that can only come with practice.
Until our partners, our artists, chefs, and co-creators are masters at our unique canvass we can help them along by communicating where we’re at often, providing specific feedback about why we called a colour or used a safeword, and we can directly ask for the cherry that’s going to top our sundae just right. And in that process we will learn the art of walking the line between contribution and control – something we will fuck up until practice develops that skill.
The art will come. Sometimes it just takes a while to get there.