Last week I talked a lot about why I write Romance, so I thought this week I’d do a continuation of sorts. The Romance genre is at its heart all about love. So, what is love? Or, my take on the subject to be perfectly honest. People talk about Christmas in July. Well, this is Jmo’s Valentines Day in October. I thought it might be a nice break from all the Halloween slapping us upside the head.
First off, Love is static. What do I mean by that? Simply put, love is never the same from minute to minute. It is infatuation, lust, desire, compassion, envy, tenderness, empathy, and yes, even hate. Hate? Yes, hate. To love something, or someone completely, you must on some level hate it or them also. I know that sounds confusing, but trust me. It’s all part of the chemical reactions firing off in our minds. You can’t love someone without being totally frustrated with them at some point in your relationship. That in no way says you don’t love them, but who hasn’t felt the need to smack their head upside a tree over something their loved one has done. I’ve been married fifteen years and know that’s true. Prince said it best, ‘I love u. I hate u’.
When a person completely owns your heart, an emotional gambit comes into play. Authors of the Romance genre usually only hit upon a few of those emotions. As the book opens we normally go with infatuation. Why shouldn’t we? It’s how all great romances start in the real world. We see a person. Some physical attraction draws us to them. We feel driven to know this person. Our minds create elaborate scenarios of how we’ll meet and spend the rest of our lives together. That’s step one.
If we are lucky that attraction leads to step two. We actually have an interaction with the object of our desire. Whether this moment lives up to those vivid imaginations, is decided then. More times than not, it doesn’t. This isn’t about gaining the mythical happily ever after, it’s about finding out if the person we’ve seen across a crowded room is a fit or a stepping stone on the journey of romance. Sometimes these moments are nothing more than fond memories we can look back on years later.
But! When they do, we’re on the road to step three. Love is a confusing emotion. It takes the precarious balance of mental and emotion to achieve true love. How many of us have been trapped in a relationship where emotions override common sense? Physical attraction does not always equate love. It’s during this step we truly discover the person we might have been fantasying about. In a book, it could be shoving two people into impossible situations or the drudgery of real life situations. Either way, this is where fantasy meets reality. Is this person our true love? What happens here is where that’s decided. It could be over a single date or over months of getting to know the real person behind our imagination.
As writers, these are the moments we generally write about in our books. We throw everything emotionally we can at our characters to bring true love about. We fill them with hope, frustrations, and yes, at times hate for the person our main character is interacting with.
There again, I’ve used the word hate again. Let me clarify something — love is a selfish emotion at times. We want it so badly at times, it is all consuming. It dictates every moment of our lives. It demands we do things we might not normally do. Mainly, it asks us to go against our better judgment. It asks us to consider someone else more important than ourselves. For some of us, that is the hardest thing to do. Most of us are products of the ‘ME’ Generation, but we do it, because who wants to be alone. So not wanting to be alone is another sign of how selfish love can be. But, true love is about giving. Giving all of yourself to another person.
As Romance writers, that is the love we aspire to create in our characters and in ourselves. All that real world stuff, we tend to gloss over, because who wants to read about something we live through every day of our lives? I do for one. I think a lot of readers do too.
As I write I try to bring that touch of reality into my books. Love is static as I said earlier. Portraying that ever-changing emotion is not easily done over the course of one book. True, the opening story of love can be, but not the totality of love. I guess that’s what drove me to write The Southern Werewolf Chronicles. I wanted to show that extension of happily ever after that rarely gets shown in a romance novel.
Let me end this with a simple thought or two. Love is the greatest emotion in the world. Why else would we fight our entire life to hold it in our arms? It means so many things. Love is the foundation of our very lives. Let me show you how from the second we’re born it drives us. A mother’s love is the first thing we know. A father’s undying devotion teaches us how strong love can be. First love teaches us how fleeting it can be. Teenage love teaches us how painful it can be. ‘True Love’ teaches us to care about someone more than we care about ourselves. The love of a parent for a child truly teaches us that someone is more important than ourselves. The love of a grandparent teaches us to love without fearing that we’ll screw up someone else’s life. See how it all comes around full circle.
I doubt there is a moment in our lives where love doesn’t touch us on some level. As a writer, I pray I show a fragment of that love in my work. More than that, I hope my experiences in the heady subject of love touches my readers on the same level as it has me. Because, love has taught me this if nothing else. If you love someone, it makes you a better person. And, isn’t that the greatest lesson in life.
So, go out there and tell someone you love them. I guarantee it will make two people smile. You for saying it and that someone for knowing you love them.