If you follow my Twitter feed, you’ll know I was on something of a writing binge this weekend. Every few months this happens. It’s like my own personal NaNoWriMo, where the book I’m writing takes on an absolutely powerful life of its own, and I’m kind of strung along. While it sounds kind of cool, and in some ways it is, it’s also quite exhausting. Usually, it means I can’t sleep, and every spare moment is at the MacBook, clacking away. Time slips, stars move, and I remain rooted to the keyboard.
At any rate, after clocking just about 13K in a day and a half or so, my mind feels a little like mush. Trying to sleep last night was darn near impossible, as even though I left the computer the part of writing that happens in my brain didn’t want to stop.
What was particularly interesting for me, however, was the progression of events within the book. I’m about 2/3 finished at this point. Actually, exactly 2/3 through (83K of a planned 120K). And these little bridge chapters are the backbone of the book, right before all the Really Big Shit happens. But, from a character perspective, for Peter–the main character–a whole lot just happened.
He finally had sex.
I don’t want to get weird about this, but sex scenes have been on my mind of late, not the least of which is because Peter is, well, gay. So. There’s that. My heroic fantasy lead is a gay male. I didn’t intend for it to happen like this. In the first three drafts of this story (I’ve been trying to write this story since I was 18… ) he always crushed on a girl. But it never ceased to feel odd. Forced, strange. It took me almost ten years to figure out that Peter didn’t like girls to begin with.
Part of me realizes that I totally pulled a Stephen King. i.e.–in The Stand, he makes sure Nick Andros doesn’t die a virgin, because I believe he thought that would be a fate worse than death. While I promise I’m not sending Peter off to his death, his sexual realization was actually intrinsic to the plot. There is so much more about sexuality than the actual sex, especially in his situation. And I thought a great deal about the scene before I wrote it, even if thinking doesn’t mean planning.
What surprised me is, writing as a woman, how powerful and emotional the scene was as I sat down to finally put it to paper. It didn’t need to be gratuitous, but it was very much about these two men seeking comfort and love, about learning to accept who they are, and definitely a bit of a rite of passage.
I talked to a few people about the scene before I wrote it. Some suggested simply writing “like a woman”–just taking the scene as I would. Others suggested not making it too graphic. I didn’t want it to feel disingenuine, you know? Or, ill-informed. Or whatever.
Ultimately, I let Peter lead me. I mean, he’s a character, a person, regardless of his sexual orientation. It’s emotion, it’s passion; these are all things I understand. The story is third-person limited, very much his story. And approaching this scene together… somehow that felt right. I let the character do the talking, in a way, and I realized how absolutely important the scene was for his own journey. I didn’t want gender and sexuality issues to define the book, but be part of his struggle to fit in, to come into his own. (I also didn’t want the scene to feel spliced in, which is the case in so many fantasy books.)
So, that finally happened. I feel like I can move on now. So much of what happens in the last third of this book is tied to The Aldersgate, and it’s giving me a bit of performance anxiety. Hopefully in the next week I can really get the gears moving. I can finally see the full draft taking shape (again) and it’s definitely… heartening.