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I would scour the library for books that would consume me, that would resonate with me on the deepest of levels and leave me pondering it for days afterwards. Those stories were far and few between, and I always longed for more.
Of course, it took years of practice to get my craft perfected. But what kept me going was to write a book that I would be totally wrapped up in. As I wrote, I continued to voraciously read, taking note of what worked and what didn't. What did I love about this story? What elements lost me along the way? My reading honed my writing.
One story element in particular, however, that often failed to resonate with me is romance.
Disclaimer: I have encountered a few books and movies that contained a solid, touching romance that did not cross the line into trite, overly-drawn-out, unrealistic, or anything else that usually fails to capture my attention. However, for the most part, stories that feature either (or both) of those elements tend to lose me quickly.
The fact that I am writing my current WIP from the perspective of a female whose romantic relationship plays a major role in her life and story is a huge step for me. I began writing stories with male leads sans romance because those were the types of tales that I tended to connect with most when I read them. I really want to connect with and be deeply moved by stories with romance, but most of the times, it just didn't click.
One day, though, I decided that if there were so few novels that contained an inspiring romance, why couldn't I just write one?
Are We Afraid of Love?
One of the many reasons I don't resonate with love stories is it seems difficult to find stories that feature genuine, deep love. There are so many stories about couples who don't like each other, then later fall in love; couples who drift apart and get back together; couples who realize it doesn't work after all; couples who want to be together but are kept apart; potential couples who are torn between multiple lovers.
There are enough instances of broken hearts and relationships in real life - I don't need to read about it in fiction. Certainly, those scenarios outlined above lead to dragging the plot out, creating tension, etc. And that may be necessary for if the whole plot of the book is wrapped up in that romance. But I'm tired of reading about that.
There is a place for writing about complicated love. But what about the sweet, genuine, everyday love? Because there is a love that can exist between two people who are living selflessly for the other. There can be a love that isn't bombarded with infidelity, sideswiped by lies, undermined by straying hearts and eyes. Have we forgotten that two people can be happy together with that love that packs your lunch every morning, rubs your feet when you're tired, takes the kids out when you're exhausted, greets you excitedly every time you come home, misses you when you're gone, is loyal to you to a fault, truly values you over others?
What happened to telling a tale about two people who are genuinely in love and get to live happily together? As a culture, are we afraid of it? Jealous of it? I'm not entirely sure. But I know there are not many romances like that portrayed in novels, let alone movies.
Perhaps many authors fail to see the tension that does exist in that genuine love. Life always gives us tension. Any novel worth its salt will be able to create tension out of everything. I just don't see the need to make the tension in relationships be an extra lover, being married to the "wrong" person, divorce, etc.
In my own current novel, I feature a married couple who is unabashedly in love with each other. I'm not sure if I'll hit the mark, but my goal is to maintain tension without compromising their love for each other. I find it particularly rare to read about married couples who are madly in love. For some reason, one would think that romance ends after marriage, that people will drift apart with wandering heart and eyes and quickly become dissatisfied with your spouse. That only happens if you let it happen.
It would appear that we have forgotten that true, selfless love can and does exist - even among two people who are married. It's hard to find, but it is out there. And it's beautiful and worthy of writing about.