When I jotted down the title to this post, two possible directions came to mind that I could take it. I could write about how relationships affect my own writing, or I could discuss the concept of relationships within a story. After a little consideration, I decided to do both. This more than likely will become a hodgepodge of indecipherable and/or undeveloped thoughts, but if you find a single sliver of insight that you can apply to your life or your own writing, you will not have wasted your time.
I have to admit that I hate drama, unless it’s found between the covers of a book. As a teenager, I envied the character Spock on Star Trek for his lack of emotions. I now understand that he was simply burying his emotions, which only causes me to relate to him even more. If you ask a man what he’s feeling, he will often shrug and say he doesn’t know. According to a book I read by Dr. James Dobson, this is because the part of the brain that processes emotions was damaged by a flood of testosterone in the womb. Sorry guys, there is medical evidence that we are all brain damaged.
I try to use my own emotions in my writing, but when those emotions are too close to home, I find that I’m too distracted to write anything. In fact, I’m writing this post in an attempt to process some emotions in hopes that I will be able to get back to writing. At this particular point in time, I haven’t completed a story in over a month. I’ve made several starts but finished nothing. Reading became my escape from reality at an early age, and now, I use my writing as a form of escape as well. When your house is metaphorically falling down around you, it is time to pick up a hammer, not open a Word document.
If you haven’t figured it out from my stories, I’m a hopeless cynic. One of my cousins sent me a small piece that she had wrote a few months ago for me to review/edit. I wrote an alternative ending to the piece and sent them both to another cousin, who helps me edit my writing by pointing out that I should have paid more attention in English class. I asked her which piece she liked better and if she could tell which one I wrote. She liked my ending the best (yay me) and told me that she knew I wrote it because it was depressing. To give you an idea how deep my cynicism runs, one of my latest revelations was that the only way to get a happy ending is to stop in the middle of the story because all relationships either end in a messy outburst of emotion or death. The funny thing to me is that as a kid I wanted to be a comedian. See what life does to us?
I’m no longer surprised when other people do stupid things and end up divorced or arrested. One of the suggestions I remember from a book on writing said that the actions of characters had to be believable and match the character’s personality. If I found that book in my library, that statement would probably be underlined with a capital BS beside it. People do things outside their perceived persona all the time. They lie about trivial things, cheat on their spouses, steal for no apparent reason, and pretend that they’re innocent. However, I find it hard to put this in my writing.
If I write that a man gave his wife a kiss and whispered, “I love you. I’ll see you after work,” before walking out the door. In my mind he’s going to work, but in the real world, he may have told his boss that he was sick so that he could meet his mistress at the hotel. A woman blows her husband a kiss from across the room and gives him a seductive smile while texting her newest boytoy, “I’ll see you tomorrow.” This is something I plan on addressing in my future writing. I remember some advice my dad gave me years ago, “Son, a man will f#&k a snake if he can get someone else to hold its head.” Most people suck, and I intend to write about them so watch for it.
One of the thoughts I had that prompted this post was – Where are the stories about couples? Generally, in every book I read or movie I watch, the protagonist starts single and by the end, they, of course, have fallen in love. I hate it when you go to see the #2 of any movie and that same protagonist is once again single. The movies Transformers and Indiana Jones come to mind. Everyone loves a budding relationship; the intense emotions, the first kiss, and that first proverbial roll in the hay make for a great story, and it offers the reader or viewer that sought after escape from reality. But I’m afraid that this romantic trope is misleading millions of people into believing that life is the pursuit of that next romantic encounter instead of the battle to maintain the relationship you have.
I’d like to see more stories about couples that are truly dedicated to each other and fight to ruthlessly to keep what they have. Writing this may prove to be my largest challenge. An author friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that she had just finished a romance novel with a happy ending. I commented on her post, “So, it’s fantasy then.”
Now to look back and summarize. First my life, just like everyone else’s, has problems, and it affects my ability to be a productive writer. Secondly, people are crazy and two-faced. Finally, I feel like true lasting relationships are under represented in fiction. So, my personal goals this year as an author is to develop characters that are amoral, chaotic, and deceitful – in other words more realistic, and to tell stories that involve perfectly matched and dedicated couples, you know, to offer other people an escape from the reality of their own relationships.