Freudian Faux Pas

About a month ago I ‘came out’ as a debut author at my very first spoken word event. The Wheeler Centre (God bless their enthusiasm for the written word) invited me to be part of their monthly ‘Debut Monday’ for May.

Debut Monday is held at the very charming and cosy The Moat Cafe. It sits below The Wheeler Centre, below footpath level actually, and has the atmosphere of a dimly lit writers den. Each writer is given about ten minutes in which to read an extract from their debut novel to an audience of friendly onlookers.

I love hearing the written word spoken by its author. Granted, some authors are better at this than others. Those who have a natural flair for performance have that magical ability to draw an audience into their story in a way reading text can’t. The tone, the inflections, the lyrical use of the word, changes the prose into something cleverer, more sensual, funnier, and more intimate. It really builds closeness in the reader-author relationship.

I’m lucky. While I do get nervous, I don’t crumble at the thought of talking to a group of strangers. Many years in the public service has served me well in learning to ‘fly by the seat of my pants and sound like I know what I’m talking about’. And I’m an extrovert. Anyone who knows me knows I love to chat and the chance to crack a joke or two. As long as it’s a joke I deliberately cracked. Herein lies the problem.

Selecting one piece from The Yearning for Debut Monday proved a bit of a challenge. I didn’t think I could get away with anything to explicit, yet I wanted to give people a flavour of the eroticism in the story. I eventually chose three excerpts in the voices of the young narrator and her teacher Solomon.

My reading was going swimmingly and the cafe had fallen silent as I donned Solomon’s voice to explain how his resistance to this young girl and was breaking under the weight of her erotic notes. I had got through the entire reading without hesitation or hiccup. Then, as I rounded on the final paragraph, it happened. Freudian faux pas.

What I intended to read was this:
‘He imagined her ... Hair tousled, arm flung carelessly above her head, those sweet, innocent lips parted as she breathed, the whiteness of her neck.
He glanced at the clock: 3.18am. In the deep sleeplessness of night something quiet began to take root in him.’

What I actually read was:
‘He imagined her ... Hair tousled, arm flung carelessly above her head, those sweet, innocent lips parted as she breathed, the whiteness of her neck.
He glanced at the cock...’

Needless to say, it killed the moment. Everyone in that room smirked and sputtered, including myself. And this passage wasn’t that sexual.

Now, as I prepare for two upcoming author events, one a 40 minute author/book talk for Monash Wordfest at Oakleigh Library next Thursday, the other a more challenging Sex In Words event at Dymocks Adelaide on 25th June, I’m being very careful about the readings I select.

Note to self: avoid any passage with the word clock in it - or any other word rhyming with cock.

But that’s where my sage advice ends. I’m no stranger to speaking, but reading sexy prose out loud requires a different kind of bravery - The sort of confidence that would see me walking down the street wearing nothing but a short trench coat (which I haven’t done in a very, very long time).

Reading sex is a bit scary. And a bit revealing. So to do the Sex In Words event I’m going to have to lean hard on my ‘who gives a toss?’ genes and throw caution into the nearest library return shute. Nonetheless I’m pretty sure no matter how carefully I select my reading, and even if I practice in front of my dogs daily, my brain will find something Freudian to trip over. Come along and see if you can catch me in the act! It'll be a good laugh - all at my expense.

Have you ever made an embarrassingly public Freudian slip?

See also:

Event details:

Monash Library Wordfest

Author talk: Kate writes contemporary adult women's fiction with strong erotic themes. Her new novel The Yearning tells the story of a charismatic teacher, a dreamy fifteen year old student, and the torment that unfolds after a series of erotic love notes are passed from student to teacher. Belle will discuss her book, her writing experience, and the reputation and diversity of erotic fiction.

Thursday 20 June 7.00-8.30pm           Oakleigh Library         A free event. Book on 9563 4138

Sex In Words

Hosted by erotica author Kyoko Church, Sex In Words is a fun and exciting new event which will showcase three established or emerging authors to an audience where each author reads a sensual short story or an excerpt from his or her work aloud. Inaugural event features Kate Belle and Angela Castle with Kyoko Church.

Tuesday 25 June 7 - 8pm            Dymocks, Rundle Mall, Adelaide         A free event.


I was expecting the word "root" to give you trouble. I didn't even suspect "clock" becoming "cock". What a classic!
Hope your next readings go without Freud's intervention :)

I love the "who gives a toss genes".  Can't live without them!  Good luck at the next reading Kate..I'm sure you'll be entertaining, no matter what you say :-)

KateBellex's picture

I’m very grateful for my Irish Catholic ‘who gives a toss genes’. They’ve saved me from many embarrassments Maggie!

Oh, that's hilarious, Kate.  Isn't it amazing how words that are completely innocuous on the page can do odd things when spoken?  They really are different mediums.  Tricky, especially with your material! ;)  Definitely avoid 'clocks' in future!

KateBellex's picture

Thanks Imelda. Lesson learned, I say! I’m yet to discover the other must avoid words. Will let you know when I come across them.

oops, missed some words *influenced me* when I asked the teacher... I need to go back to bed.

I love it!
When I was a very naive Year 12 art student, I had to create something from clay that represented a living organism. Obviously the conversation I had overheard moments before when I asked the teacher if a sponge was a living orgasm.

KateBellex's picture

Very cute Monique. And worthy of a red face in Year 12. Bet that was repeated in the staff room afterwards.

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