Growing in Love.

I am a bit late with my blog this week but several factors went into my tardiness. The most important of which was my wife’s birthday just so happened to be on Sunday. So, just for fun I’m going to focus on that excuse today. In the process of being myself, weird as I am, I posted on her Facebook page that since she’d been a big part of my life for sixteen years, she was only sixteen in my eyes and as beautiful as ever. Yeah, I’m a bit of a suck up, but in this case it’s true. She is more beautiful today than she was the first time I saw her. Yeah, still a suck up but I’m not lying. There’s something about true love that makes you blind to age. I know I don’t feel 45 and she in no way looks 44 to me.

The whole idea got me to thinking about love. Being a Romance author, that’s a good thing. When you get right down to it, love is a rebirth of sorts. If love is indeed true, it isn’t just an emotion. It’s an act of completion on a cellular level. Until you stumble across ‘that’ one person who’s right for you, you’re incomplete. You exist as half a person going through life alone, trying to make sense of a world where you just can’t do everything yourself. You try, but you’re just not hardwired for ‘everything’. We’re all born with certain skillsets. Some lucky people discover the ability to do just about everything, but they still feel an emptiness success can’t seem to fill. Yet, when they meet that perfect person, everything just seems to fall into place.

From personal experience, I can tell you I know my limits. I can’t do everything by myself. But, those things I can’t do, or I’m just not wired to do, my wife can. You know like the basics, I can’t whistle but my wife can. I know this all sounds impersonal. Well, it isn’t. Until I met my wife, I might have thought I knew how the world worked, but I was totally clueless. I honestly don’t know how I made it as long as I did without her.

I felt empty without realizing it. This revelation wasn’t instantaneous. It took time for me to both grasp that she was indeed the one for me, and how much I needed her in my life. Guys generally are stupid about such things, so I think she’s forgiven me for not discovering something she already knew right away.

When I began writing, I decided I wanted to take this approach to writing Romance. Romance should never be just some random events stuffed between sex scenes. That’s not the heart of Romance, at least to my thinking. No, Romance is about truth. What truth? The truth that love is about two people discovering not only each other but themselves in the process of falling into it.

That might sound strange, but how can you love someone if you know who you are? I think it all comes back to an old cliché. How can you love someone, if you first don’t love yourself? Hey, I might not always like the person I am, but I think I love myself most of the time. I also know who I am, but it took me awhile to discover that secret. In fact it took my wife to teach me the lesson.

That’s another part of love. It’s a learning experience. You learn first off, that you are not the most important person in the universe. Sometimes you don’t even come in as a close second. From the moment you find someone, you subconsciously or consciously decide that making that person happy is more important than anything else you’ve ever done. You go out of your way to do special things that you normally wouldn’t do for anyone, even yourself. You see them cry, you want to wipe their sadness away. Seeing a smile on their face makes you happy.

You learn something else. You learn that you aren’t half the person you thought you were. In fact, you ‘were’ half a person until they came along. That’s a sobering thing to find out, because today we’re conditioned to look out for number one. We’re taught you can’t depend on anyone but yourself. Your happiness is what’s important. Well, let me tell you, in the real world of true love, that just ain’t true.

And when I write, it’s that part of love I want to write about. I want to show that love isn’t a one-way street. It’s about mutual appreciation of having someone in your life. That you love them as much as they love you. They’d do anything for you, just like you’d do for them. If you don’t have that in your life, you don’t have love.

Maybe, that’s the thing. In this fast paced world we live in, people just don’t know what love means anymore. I mean, look at TV. It’s full of celebrities with their marriages of the month. Reality shows about people trying to find love out of a police line-up. Music with descriptions of sex, dominance, and buying love, but rarely do we see or hear about how much we have to sacrifice to have love in our lives. Because sacrifice is what we have to do. We ‘have’ to sacrifice our preconceived ideas of who we want to be and become who we need to be.

That’s love. So maybe, I ramble a bit on the subject, but for sixteen years I’ve lived with the love of my life. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s always been who I was born to be. An imperfect man in love with a woman who might not be perfect, but who is perfect for me. I hope that comes through in my books, because each one is a sample of the greatest love story I’ve ever known– my own.

Looking for Me

Author is a funny old word. A bit uppity if you ask me. I’ll freely admit to referring to myself as one from time to time. Hey, a guy’s got to do what a guy’s got to do. But, author is as good a word as any to describe what an introverted person does to pretend their imagination is as interesting as the real world. It must be, otherwise so many people wouldn’t spend their time and money buying books and reading them.

But, I can’t in good conscience call myself and author. Sounds more professional than I consider myself. I’m a writer. I write. I’m simple that way. When I sit down to regurgitate what my brain whispers in my ear, I’ve dissolved any notions of being an author. Being an author brings with it certain expectations I can no longer harbor. Authors want to make money and be household names. Once upon a time– see how I can use clichéd literary terms in the right context– I wanted both those things. I wanted my name to be up there with Stephen King and Anne Rice. You can feel free to insert any famous author you want, but seven plus years of being an author has taught me expectations can be depressing. So I’ve given up thinking like an author.

Way back when–another literary term you may be familiar with–I wrote because I enjoyed the process. It was freeing. I had fun. I enjoyed visiting the places I usually only got to see when I was asleep. I loved exploring them with one simple premise in mind–What If?. Now, I don’t have as much fun. Instead of What If? I worry about deadlines, keeping continuity straight, and a few other things I don’t feel comfortable discussing in a public venue. The point is, as a result I don’t enjoy the process. It has become work. My worlds aren’t escapes anymore. They’ve become a part of something totally unsavory to my disposition. They’ve become — gasp!– reality! What creative type can cope with something like that? Creativity should never be referred to in the same context as the real world.

Creativity is and should always be an expression of your inner child. When you grow up, you forget what it means to have fun on a childlike level. Fun constitutes a day off work. A short trip to the book store, or comic book store as the case may be. Fun isn’t something that happens every day. It is a small grasp at something rarely experienced. Kids see fun as an all-consuming imperative, only interrupted by things called school and chores. Ick!

So, I’ve made up my mind not to be an author. Not to struggle with all the things that go with it. Nope, I’m going to have fun or not do it at all. Does that mean I’m quitting? Maybe, but first I want to explore myself first. Stop thinking those thoughts, you perv. No, I’m going to explore who I am. Strange as it might sound, I’ve forgotten who I am, as a person with creative bent. I’ve probably blogged about this before, but it’s true nonetheless.

Over the past few months, I’ve felt a growing dissatisfaction doing what I do. Sure, I freely admit that my life may have something to do with this feeling. I’ve hidden myself in a safe world when chances aren’t something I tend to take. I’ve kept myself chained to a job I hate to pay the bills. When you’re a father and husband, you can’t afford to take chances, because other lives revolve around every choice you make. Those choices have put a roof over our heads, and helped to put food on the table, but they’ve cut out something that is so easy to forget. Most people don’t even realize they’ve lost it. Living.

True, I’ve lived, but I don’t think I’ve LIVED. If you catch my drift. I’m in the process of following dreams, I’ve left behind in the process of being a productive member of society. Whether or not they come to fruition remains to be seen, but while I’m addressing those issues, I want to take a look at who I am as a writer. Notice, the A word was not used.

That isn’t to say I’m cutting lose my comedic brain trust. I enjoy making people laugh. It makes me smile to think I can make other people smile. But, lately I’ve begun to wonder, if making with the funny is being true to the totality of who I am.

To figure out that mental debate, I want to be true to who I was when I began writing. So, over the next year I’m going to be true to two separate mes. The me I was back when writing was new and exciting. And, the me who has learned not only how to write, but the fundamentals of writing correctly. I want to examine that duality of me on paper, or in a Word doc if I want to be politically correct about the process. Most people see me as a Star Wars fueled geek with a penchant for using pop culture to drive the plots of my books. I’d like to think those people who have read my books have seen past the façade of pop culture and comic book plot elements to see the message planted beneath the one liners and bazingas. There is more to me than a zippy funny bone.

I don’t know if this new book I plan to throw my heart and soul into will be worth the effort. We never know such things until we’re done. For me, it isn’t the finished product that counts as much as the effort of doing it.

As an artist, I once told myself if I could not be the best I could be, I would walk away. For nearly ten years I did. Recently, I went back and began painting again. I discovered two things. I hadn’t forgotten how to paint. More importantly, I still had something to say with my work. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the paintings when I was finished, but I never am. I believe that’s part of being an artist of any kind. We are never satisfied. There is ALWAYS room for better. Surprisingly, as I look back on my old life as an artist and this new adventure into it, I see that my time away gave me the perspective on being an artist. I needed that away to breathe new life into me.

So, if I decide to step back from writing to examine who I am and what I want to do, I don’t see myself never picking up a laptop again. I see myself growing into the writer–still no author–I need to be to be true to myself and true to work I produce.

If I can’t do that, what is the sense in doing anything?