Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Happiest Day of Your Life

I've noticed an interesting trend.  It's not really a new one in a way.  I mean if you think about it it's been a myth for a long time that the wedding day is the 'happiest day of a woman's life'.  We put a lot into that day.  We've got the flowers, the look, the dress, the ring, the food, the cake (yes that's different than the food believe me), the wedding party, the parents, the in-laws  the family, the guest list, the seating arrangement, the entertainment, the style, the colour... the list goes on.  Seriously, it's insane how much time and effort goes into that one day.

I've been thinking about why romance dies when we get married and I think part of it has to do with the whole 'happiest day in my life' sensation around weddings.  They're definitely sensationalized far past what they used to be.  You bet they're a celebration and yup, they should be pretty darn happy, but here's the thing.  When it comes down to it, it's only one day.  So what if those flowers aren't just right?  Who cares if you gain a pound or two and your dress is a little tight or you go the other way and it's loose?  There are so many things that can (and probably will) go wrong with something as highly coordinated and detailed as we have made weddings to be.

They're also stressful.  Few people talk about it, you've got two families, possibly meeting each other for the first time ever who have to get along.  You've got internal clashes, feuds or general dislike in the individual families already and if you're lucky to have families that already know and like each other, so much the easier for you, but most people don't.  You're trying to make sure everyone gets along and everything goes exactly right and on top of it all you're hoping that the person who will be standing across from you saying their vows is the right person for you because otherwise you might be going through all of this just to end up apart from the person you think you love.

Assuming you've got the perfect vision and you're somehow able to make that vision come true right down to the tiniest detail and the miraculous happens and everything also turns out right, you might have a perfect day.  Here's the fun part, none of that makes it the happiest day of your life.

Surprised?  We hype up the connection of two people before marriage in the romance genre.  It's the fun, heart pounding part of a romance.  It's the part that culminates in either sex (which is a popular end result in secular romances) or marriage (which does seem to be more popular with Christian romances).  Here's the thing, quite frequently in both cases, that's where the story ends.  Even in fairy tales that's all anyone ever really talks about.  That's fine and dandy, I've mentioned before the idea that it's boring once you're together in a 'romance' sense.  Ironically though I find that it has nothing to do with making that day happy.  If we were to judge wedding days as an ending, nothing going on after it it would be a wonderful culmination of all things finally coming together.

Here's the best part.  My husband and I went to a wedding this weekend, we just caught the last little bit when the couple was dancing.  I was standing with my hubby at the back of the hall, his arms around me and mine around his and I looked up at him and thought, "The day I married you was the happiest day of my life."

Cliche right?  Yes and no.  People say it was the happiest day of their life, but they never explain the complexities of what it means when they feel it.  When I felt that it was the happiest day of my life it was a thought and a feeling that had hundreds of little moments embedded in them.  It was every moment we fought and then made up, making our marriage stronger.  It was every touch, caress and kiss that told me he loved me from the moment we were married forward.  It was rolling over in bed and finding him there and being so pleased and happy to do so that warm fuzzy feelings fill you.  It was going out and doing things together, staying home and hanging out, it was cooking together, making meals for each other or surprising each other with something to tell the other person that they'd been thought of and were loved.  That one tiny thought had all these things wrapped up in it and was so poorly expressed by that too oft heard phrase.

Why the wedding day?  Well that was the day that our lives were officially and permanently joined together for the rest of our lives.  It was the day a commitment was made, that the things felt were made real and that we promised to work at our relationship forever.  To be together until death did us part in all things.  Meeting him was the first step, it was great and wonderful and I'll tell you about it in a different post maybe, but it was still uncertain, fraught with difficulty because nothing was sure.  The day we got married things became sure and I don't care if you want to throw divorce stats at me (go ahead, I've heard most of them) because I know two things without doubt.

1. Regardless of what happens in our lives that might take us apart, the day that we got married, for better or worse our lives were joined.  Even if (and I do pray that it doesn't) something were to happen that pulled us apart, our lives would still in many ways be joined.  In part because of the experiences we shared and would continue to share and in part because once joined with a person like that you can never really be rid of them, even if it's only in your mind.  Divorce is just the words on paper.  It doesn't take the other person out of that place in you that will always be theirs.

2. Marriages are not the end to romance.  They're not the end to the adventure at all, they're only opening another chapter in our lives together.  No matter what adventures we go on, no matter where life takes us, I know that so many things that I have shared and will share will be with him.  I want them to be with him and I will work with every ounce of my being to make sure that this marriage works out, exactly as I trust him to do as my partner and best friend.  I know we'll face hard times and we already have, but so long as we make sure that we always continue to get to know each other in all facets and accept each other as fully as is capable for two separate beings to do?  Well, that's pretty dang close to a happily ever after if you ask me.

It might not be much fun for readers in a book to read about people who always work things out, but I think we've done ourselves a disservice by only reading and only writing romances that talk about the 'first stage' of romance.  What might we be missing by devaluing a deeper stage of love and romance that would carry us through not only the first stages of relationship leading to marriage, but through that day and beyond?

The happiest day of your life doesn't have to be just a day, but you can attribute a lifetime of happiness as a result of one action.  I have with my husband and I strive to grow and to love him more every day and to never forget that he is worth every moment of my time and effort to love and romance as much as he does for me.  It's worth the effort and I will happily spend the rest of my life making certain that my wedding day was indeed the happiest decision I've ever made in my life.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Write What You Know, When You Don't Know.

"Write what you know."  You've heard it, I've heard it.  Really, anyone who writes has probably heard it.  There's something to be said about writing what you know, it definitely makes things easier.

I've been working on the romance, I've gotten some headway into it.  Not much mind, but some and it took my mom passing me a book entitled "Changes that Heal" to make me realize why I was having such a hard time.  It's a wonderful book for everyone to read regardless, but one of my characters is supposed to be a church counselor so he can help one of the main characters partway through.  I'm a writer and an actor primarily though I do a lot of other things as well, I am not a psychological based person.  I took general studies, I have a degree in it with a minor in English.  I know about a LOT of things as a result, but somehow I still managed to come across a character whose profession I don't know enough about to write comfortably.

It turns vague and indirect, I don't have those vital details that really make a scene or that make characters that live on in your heart long after the story's over.

It's amazing how important those details can become.  Here's the best part about being a writer though, if you don't know enough you can research to learn more!  Yay!  If you're finding that a character, situation or plot is feeling uncertain or you just can't quite make it work, take a look not only at the details of the scene you're writing but the feeling while you're writing it.  You might just need to research a little more information or in the case of fantasy, create a little more thorough detail to get that firm grip of the scenes or characters that need more dimension.

So don't be lazy, the internet's a wonderful place and has a lot of answers and if you can't find them there, take advantage of libraries while they still exist!  If you think of it you can even email or get in touch with an expert.  Often, especially if you're respectful, they're happy to talk with you about your book.  Give them a thanks on the thanks page though, that's just good practice and they did help, so praise where praise is due.

We're not limited to what we know but to write what we don't know we need to learn it well enough to fake it.  We're writers, we're capable of wearing a great many hats.  Don't feel limited just because you don't yet KNOW something.  Life too short to let that stop you these days!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Terms of Endearment

I have read a book recently that has made me completely reconsider my thoughts on the "romance" genre.  Well okay, not completely, but enough to feel like it.  (Sorry for the late post... My internet kicked out partway through writing this post on Tuesday so guess what didn't get posted Wednesday...)

Romance is essentially about relationships.  It's traditionally about a guy and a girl because that's traditional romance and curiously enough while I'm sure there are other types out there it's not been until more recently that those things are explored (take 50 shades for instance, though technically it's still about a guy and a girl...).

Life is also about relationships.  The ones we have, the ones we want, the ones we don't understand and the ones we think we understand too much about.  So that explains to me more clearly then why Romance has been and will likely continue to be such a popular genre.

The only problem I have about the whole "romance" genre is that in every book I've read so far (and please excuse the generalization as I have by no means read the WHOLE genre), it's always about the beginning.  That first flush of a crush or that gut wrenching pull of lust that makes you want to get to know another person.  (Don't pretend, at least some of them are way more about satisfying lust than meeting a love.)

Why is it that we believe once we have anything more permanent, like say marriage, romance is dead?  Is it just that the initial flush is the fun part with lots of conflict so the rest is a lot harder to write?  Or is 'romance' the way we see it literally ONLY the first part of the relationship?

If that's so wow.  Romance is a really narrow genre for something that is so incredibly popular.  But maybe that makes sense.  With certain publishing houses taking such a strict view on what makes a romance it was going to go one of two ways, either it would remain very strict or it would bust out of its restrictions, but it seems to be happy with its walls.

There's a little change in terms of bleed over into different genres (fantasy or sci-fi for instance make great carriers for expanding the story outside of just the girl and boy), but it's easy to tell a "romance" story vs a "fantasy" story in what seems like 90% of the books that I have come across that contain both.  If the story focuses heavily on the relationship between boy and girl?  Yeah, it's a romance set in a fantasy setting.  If it focuses on the events going on around the boy and girl?  It's a fantasy with possible romantic elements, but really, it's just a fantasy because that's what we call it.

Romance is that peculiar blend between what we want for our romances and the genuine reflection of what goes on in some people's lives.  Not everyone's sadly, but some and it maybe serves to give hope for those that don't quite have it or inspiration to people that want it.

All in all I would never have expected it when I was younger, but Romance teaches us just as much as any type of story, it just depends on what you want to learn about.  In this case?  Relationships.  I wonder when the genre will officially spiral out of their traditional boundaries?  I wonder too if even when it does, if it should to the extent that we are capable of.  I wonder how far relationships will change as a reflection to what's in the genre instead of the genre changing to be a reflection of what's in the world.

It'll be interesting to watch at least.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Apologies and Plans

First off, sorry this post is late.  My home internet connection has decided it no longer likes my computer, though it seems fine with everyone else's and this is the first chance I've had to get online in order to post this, so apologies for anyone who was looking for this post yesterday when it didn't show up.

Second.  For the next several blog posts I've decided to do another theme.  Since I'm currently working on a romance story I thought it would be fun to post some musing about the genre and about different things that I am observing while I am working on it.  Particularly in relation to fantasy as that is the genre that up to this point I have usually spent more time writing and reading.  I intend to do several book reviews and possibly a comparison between different types/styles/sub-genres of the romance genre.  I want to take a look into not only what we seem to think romance is but also as an extension to look into the kinds of characters that we usually want to see in our romances.  This may also slide into some looks into what we want to perceive as beautiful in relation to our romances.  For instance in film there is a very strong emphasis on the way that women look and are perceived as beautiful, but I have noticed that in terms of romance novels the main male character is often emphasized to particular looks in the same way women are in film.  Go figure eh?  It's one of the things I'll write about in the coming weeks and look more into.

Sorry the post is so short this week, Next week's will be done early and time posted for an early release so even if I can't get to my computer it should post automatically.  It's just too bad I didn't do it for this week!

God Bless.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Picking up the Threads

So it's been quite a while since my last blog post.  Partly because I have had no idea what to write and partly because I was considering where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do.  Not only with my life in general but with my writing in particular.  It's been a very long year of soul searching, praying and thinking.

I have a problem.  I want to write but I feel more and more lately that I am really terrible at it.  (No, that is not intended to garner sympathy from anyone, that is simply a statement of fact).  Now before you go and tell me you're sure I'm wonderful (not that I mind being told that) let me explain why I say it.  I'm creative, very, very creative.  I can and have created multiple worlds in incredible detail, from the wide expanse of the continents that fill it to the tiniest bug crawling along whatever leaf I've decided to add into that area.  I have folders, notes, books filled with ideas, with creations with histories with whatever else my mind has come up with.  I have written by myself 3 novels that do not satisfy me and I have written with a very close friend of mine something close to 20 more.  Has any of this ever seen the light of day?  No.  I'm not even a bad editor, I know what a story needs and I have a very good memory to prove why something doesn't make sense.  I also see how things fit together.  I am in many ways drawn toward writing and the puzzles of figuring out the story behind it.

But where I feel I fail and where I have found myself struggling, perhaps as all writers struggle from what I've been reading, is in sitting down to write that first blasted draft.

I had a new idea.  I wanted to get away from Fantasy for awhile because I was so deeply into the world I had created and the hundreds of ideas around it that I couldn't stop creating long enough to sit still and write.  (Screw writer's block, since keeping track of them I realize my biggest problem is staying to one freaking idea instead of not having any.)  So I decided to try a genre that I had absolutely no experience in because I had an idea.

So what did I realize?  A lot of things actually.  For starters, I LOVE having a plan and as much as I love having that plan I adore changing it as I go along.  I used to think i hated having an outline, let alone a detailed one that went through scene by scene (and yeah, that's SCENE, not CHAPTER, they vary in length.)  In a lot of ways I've found that it keeps my creativity from spiraling out of control and running off without me (this happens a lot, at least to me, and no one ever talks about it in any book about writing I've read, they always talk about blocks, not run-away fright trains of ideas >.<).  I've even had to go so far of adding folders with quick notes for any new ideas that do NOT fit into the novel I'm working on.  The plan has helped keep me on track to an extent (read, I'm 180 pages into the novel) but I've realized yet again that I've managed to spiral out of control even trying to keep it tightly paced and focused on only TWO characters.

Did I mention it was a Romance that I'm working on?  It's hard, I've been doing research, reading books I never thought I would enjoy (but surprisingly I am).  It has brought new layers, new ideas (and unfortunately and fortunately, new worlds) to my life and my writing but it has also brought me up and down.  Right now, today, as I am writing this is a peculiarly twisted day where I am both up and down.  I have somehow managed to write characters strongly enough that they developed and ran away with the story and I didn't notice until I was more than halfway through (blasted things that they are).  Now I'm stuck.  Do I go back and edit or do I keep writing but adjust things as I go.

I have been trying desperately to convince myself to just keep writing and to fix things later but I realize I really can't do that.  If it's a small thing sure, but honestly I'm starting to realize that with certain things (writing being one of them) I'm a closet perfectionist and I HATE it with a passion when things do not make sense in a story, my own included. And when I make a major change part way through... well... let's just say I'm not very good at trying to continue knowing how much editing I'm going to have to do later to make it make sense.  I'm a first draft kind of girl and I LIKE it that way.  (Don't worry, I still expect to have to edit but if I don't have to make major changes to the story I like it better that way.)

So I decided to blog about it and put some thoughts down.  The number of views I have had since I went on hiatus is absolutely shocking to me so thank you for bearing with me.  I intend to continue blogging and slowly get back into it.  We'll start with once a week as I don't want it to overtake my writing like it did last time and due to the presence of film and acting in my life I already have enough competing for my attention.  So welcome back and I hope to be a help to other authors looking to not only write their books but maybe help you figure out how to unblock that creative flow, or to build a damn to direct the flow of ideas, whatever may be.  Or really, just to be one more voice in the hundreds that think they're important enough for someone else to want to read.  lol!

God Bless.