Yesterday, I posted an essay about pace, and disability, and how reading Rose Lemberg‘s novelette, Geometries of Belonging, cracked something open for me as a writer around pace in Shocking Violet. I talked about how I was writing in a way that moved at my own disabled pace, and that honored the disabled realities of my characters. I said:
“So, I have characters who let themselves stim, who struggle in honoring their access needs, who grapple with being triggered, who honor each other’s need to manage symptoms, who try to go at their own pace, who get overwhelmed and figure out how to manage it, who push through, and who slow down because they have to. And I am making this aspect of disabled reality a consistent thread not just in the plot, but integrating it into the pace of the story, in the way the book builds and flows.”
I wanted to share an example of what I was talking about in that essay, a new excerpt from Shocking Violet, my queer kinky polyamorous romance novel. This is from the latter part of Violet and Jax’s second date, and is set at Violet’s apartment, where they go after dinner. (If you want to read earlier excerpts first, links to them are collected here.)
Violet was looking at him in this way that had so much in it. Like there were layers swirled together and he couldn’t even parse them all. Couldn’t make sense of her eyes. It was making his hands shake, trying to look. His heart was beating way too damn fast. He stopped talking. It might have even been in the middle of a sentence. He’d lost track of what he was saying anyway.
But then there was this silence. It just grew bigger and bigger and somehow it was in his chest and there was no room for it and it was too fucking much after that look in her eyes.
Jax got up. Somehow he got his legs to work enough to make his way out of the room. He closed the door behind him and leaned against the wall, trying to get his brain to figure out where the bathroom was. He had said too much. Or she had seen too much. How the hell had they started talking about this anyway?
Oh, there it was. The bathroom. He closed the door, just gave in and sat on the floor against the wall, wrapping his arms around himself. Let himself rock, his back making contact with the wall over and over.
It had been the room itself. How there were fidgets by the bed. A vanity full of makeup and nothing scented at all. That was what had started the whole thing, that vanity. He had told her that he’d never been with a femme before that didn’t use scent, and how much he appreciated it.
She had said, “So they used scent even after they knew it made you ill?”
And it poured out. He hadn’t wanted it to. Hadn’t decided to let it out. Something about her tone made this…space. Something about how she phrased it. Like it wasn’t him that was wrong at all. Like he didn’t need too much.
There are so many moments like this, woven into the tapestry of the novel. They are an integral part of how the story flows. They are part of what makes this book so exciting for me to write.