Thoughts on Research from Our Authors: Alicia Catt

We asked some of the authors that we have published to reflect on research in their nonfiction work. Alicia Catt wrote the essay “On Saliva” published in our second issue. What follows are some of her thoughts on the research that she conducted for her essay.

My essay “On Saliva” actually began as an assignment for my CNF workshop: write about something you know about that not many other people do. For some reason, saliva was the thing that came to mind–I remembered the time I spit on “J” for money (which I can safely say is an experience most people are not familiar with!). After that, it was pretty much just a matter of following a single bodily fluid down the rabbit hole, so to speak. I’m actually still pretty fascinated by the things I found–I never imagined there would be so much to say about something as mundane as spit.

I had only recently retired from my escort job when I wrote the essay, and I was in a bit of a writing rut: all I wanted to write about was the sex industry, but I didn’t yet have enough distance to really do it justice. Incorporating all this research, I think, allowed me to sort of write around it–I got to write the scene with “J” and the scene with the threesome, but instead of really having to analyze and reflect on those moments, I could just zoom out again and talk about pheromones or venom or whatever, and trust that the reader would make their own connections. Maybe in a way the research even humanizes my admittedly bizarre experiences, makes them easier to relate to. Or at least, that’s my hope.

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