Wednesday, February 29, 2012

WIPlash Wednesdays- Didn't We Almost Have It All... #writing

As an author who writes romance, I'm often taxed with the responsibility of finding relationship problems for the climatic break-up or often the misunderstanding that occurs before my hero and heroine can confess their love or find their happily-ever-after. This usually has to be suitably BAD, but NOT UNFORGIVABLE and it has to make SENSE.

Unfortunately, it has been my experience that, often times, relationships end in confusion, without closure, without certainty as to the reasons why it fell apart to begin with. In romance novels, you can't do that. You HAVE to tie up all the loose ends so that YOU and the READER are satisfied with the results.

I spend a lot of time when I'm writing pondering over questions like~

What could happen that would create problems that would drive a wedge between them?
How can they overcome that problem once it exists?
Is this problem too extreme?
Can she forgive him for what happened?
Would he still love her if she confesses her secret?

There are so many ways it could go and I'm no relationship expert, so what works for some might not work for others. I've had my fair share of relationships and each one ended for different reasons. I mean, there are some things that are just a given- you both care about each other, but don't love one another.

Some relationships end for very clear reasons- abuse, obsessiveness, possessiveness, addictions, controlling or opposing personality types, unhappiness with each other or even with yourself, finding out you have less in common than you thought, or sometimes TOO much in common can be the kiss of death for a relationship if it makes Jack & Jill a very dull, unhappy-together couple. Sometimes people who think they're perfect for each other find out that they just don't have the same dreams or goals for their future or they have flaws and pet peeves that just can't be overlooked. Sometimes it's simply best to go your separate ways.

But what about "the ends" that don't make sense to the logical mind, to the sentimental heart, that believes Love doesn't just "end"~ that there has to be a "reason" why it doesn't work? What if the door doesn't get closed completely? What if it doesn't make sense? What if you can't break it to your heart?

Sometimes I feel I do Love a disservice because I almost have to "trivialize" what makes or breaks a relationship.

I was reminded of this a few nights ago while talking to my 9 year-old daughter about not taking things for granted. She's lucky to have a television and DVD player in her bedroom. I was 20 years old, living in my apartment before I ever owned a TV or VCR. A friend gave me the TV and a guy I was once engaged to bought his sister's VCR to give me as our first Christmas together gift. This brought up a fond memory from that relationship & I related it to my daughter-

The story goes a little something like this- This ex-fiance of mine once walked through 2 foot of snow from the neighborhood he lived in, to the florist in the shopping center not far from my house, through the park, accidentally getting lost a few streets over and helping a person getting their car out of a snowy ditch before he finally made it to my parents' house~ just to bring me a birthday present, a stuffed Ty cat named "Boots" who was black and white- even though we were broken up at the time.

The look of awe that crossed my daughter's face nearly broke my heart. I could see the wheels turning. She thought it was one of the sweetest, most romantic things her 9 year-old mind had ever heard and she smiled and said- "Wow! He must have cared a LOT about you to do that."

I said, "Yeah, well, he and I were together off and on almost 4 years and when we finally broke up, it boiled down to him telling me I can't love you if you don't have a job. I wasn't working at the time because I was taking a writing workshop and even though he knew I wanted to be a writer, but my dream wasn't as important to him as it was to me."

Her mouth hung open only a moment and then she said, "Well, that's just stupid!"

I told her it was okay, that had I married that guy, I wouldn't have met her daddy and she wouldn't be here, so things worked out the way they should after all. I subscribe to the belief that all our relationships are there to touch our lives, to teach us something or us teach someone else something they need to grow as individuals.

But after I tucked her in and came back to the computer, I teared up. I don't cry often about it, but I realized, unlike my characters, who WILL find they have more reasons to be together than apart, I still, even after all these years have trouble understanding how we went from-

"The first day I saw you at work, I lay in bed that night and thought, that's the woman I'm going to marry," turned into "It's over, give me the rings back. They don't belong to you."

Or how, "Nothing anyone says will ever change how I feel about you," became "I can't love you if you don't have a job."
I was everything he wanted and then...well, I wasn't. "Didn't we almost have it all" seems like the most logical thing to say about it....

Like I said, sometimes REAL relationships end without everything being tied up into a nice neat package. Sometimes it's not fair that the puzzle pieces don't fit together perfectly. Sometimes we're left with loose ends, just dangling there and not sure why. To this day, I can't wrap my mind around it, but what I do know is that within a year, he was married to someone else (while we'd been together off and on for nearly 4 years) and all I could think was- it wasn't that he didn't want to get married, he just didn't want to marry me. But I also know now, looking back, that I didn't love him the way he deserved either and I would not have been happy as his wife.

My peace of mind comes from knowing I have my characters though and I have my writing and I can always make sure they get their HEA. Not everything in my life is so cut & dry, but I'm okay with that.

Sometimes you have to risk it all to find out if it was all worth the risk.

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