I’m starting a novel. Oh. Well. I’m starting the second draft of a novel, but it’s a rewrite-every-word draft, not a revision, really. This story? I wrote the first draft basically with my eyes closed. It was in some ways a very easy book to write: it came to me staring at a blank new document, and from a sparked idea to the last word typed I wrote straight through without detours or distractions. It took about two weeks. In other ways, it was terrifically hard to write, about hard things, and I’m afraid to revisit it because I have no idea if anyone else on earth wants to read something that is, yes, partly porn, but is also partly about how sexual assault fucks people up, a topic that is not, in fact, erotic.
(I’m not talking about titillating non-con or dub-con, written with the intent to arouse. I’m talking about a character you already know walks in on page one and says, “Hey, since the last time we talked? This happened.” And everything after that is ripple effects.)
The idea of trying to categorize this story anywhere? Does my head in. At this point, I can’t justify writing a story that no one will want to read. But I’ve re-read the first draft of this since I wrote it, and it wants to be rewritten. It wants more of my time and energy. It’s not just the set-up for the stories that come after. For all that, it could happen entirely off-screen. But fuck, I can’t stop thinking about this first draft, and how very much it wants to be a real boy. So to speak.
The bitch of it is that stories like this? They’re real. Owning your sexuality after assault is a real fucking thing. Owning your sex life with your partner after they’ve been assaulted? Yeah, man. That’s not something I stumble upon in any form of fiction ever. (Though Third Eye Blind has a song called “Wounded” that, if I’m interpreting it correctly, hits the theme, and includes the memorable all-purpose line, “Back down the bullies to the back of the bus, cause it’s time for them to be scared of us,” and yeah, that knocks me on my ass every time I shout along with it in my car.)
So I want to write this story. I also feel unqualified. And not because I, as a female-bodied human, have never been assaulted. I’ve also never had a penis, and that stops me from writing exactly nothing. But because I’m not good enough yet to write this story. I may never be good enough to write this story.
And so, I think about it. I over-think it. I’ve considered every scene from every perspective. I’ve agonized over the architecture of the thing, the number of words, the sections, the pacing. I’ve outlined it–twice. Anyone who knows how I feel about outlines (“No, no, it’s great, pull another fingernail off with your pliers, I love it”) will understand that forcing myself through two outlines is insane.
It’s become clear to me that I can wallow here in writerly paralysis, terrified of my book, obsessed with potentially marketing it (“An erotic romance about rape and breaking up with your one true love!”), bowled over by the many, many ways it could go wrong…or I can just shut the fuck up and write the thing.
This story? Wants to be told from four perspectives. It wants to be a novel with two distinctly different parts. It wants to offer very fucking little in the way of resolution, and forget happily ever after. Forget happy for now, for most people (though others will see hints of HFN). It does not want to offer equal time to all perspectives. (This may not be an obvious obsession of mine. Were you to run the word counts of The Scientific Method, you’d find that Hugh’s perspective and Will’s perspective get almost perfectly equal time. It’s a sick bit of OCD, trying to always have everything balance out, and it doesn’t always suit the story.)
It really, really wants to be written. I am compelled. You may see it, you may not, but it’s increasingly clear that if I value my worth–if I respect my story–I sure as hell better get my shit together to write it.