daidoji_gisei: Lotus flower (Lotus)
[personal profile] daidoji_gisei
A few weeks ago I checked a book out of the library on writing character emotions. I finally got to skimming it Monday night. The book was organized around many short sections, with each section covering a different emotion. I was feeling ok about my ability to handle character emotions right up to the section on romantic love. "Close your eyes and remember how it felt the first time you fell in love!" the author instructed. "Well, that's not going to work," I thought. I've never fallen in love.

Which is not to say I have never loved anyone. I love my parents, and I have a small handful of friends who are not people-I-hang-out-with but people-who-I-care-deeply-about. I happen to think that friendship-as-love is every bit as important as romantic love, but as this is all that I have going for me I guess my opinion is arguably suspect.

I would have liked to have had some romantic love in my life--it seems like a good thing, in spite of its pitfalls--but this isn't something you can do alone; you need someone to love you. At one point I had looked at some books on how to attract a romantic partner and had to give it up as a lost cause. The project seems to require that I act like someone I'm not, and you don't need a masters in physics to realize that this is not a winning strategy. Sooner or later I would slip up and be me, and then the whole thing would be over.

From this vantage, it makes sense that I couldn't convince my readers that Hideshi and Beniha were having an affair: I've never had one, so how would I know? And it's funnier that the story I have completed features two characters who are, in fact, not in love with each other. I have a project in the works where I do have two characters who are in love, but that's a minor detail in the plot and now that I recognized the problem I can minimize it as much as possible. Play to your strengths, avoid your weaknesses.

Date: 2014-03-13 10:58 pm (UTC)
yhlee: (SKU: Anthy/Utena (credit: sher))
From: [personal profile] yhlee
Actually, from my reaction to romance novels vs. the fact that they sell like hotcakes, my judgment is suspect too, but I would personally argue that friendship is MORE important than romance. I have an ethnography book around here somewhere that discusses three dimensions of relationship-love: companionate love (long-term partnership love?), romantic love (infatuation/romance), and physical love/lust (not 100% sure about this last and I can't find the book to look it up, it's from Colubmia UP) and argues that most cultures will emphasize these dimensions in differing proportions. The mainstream USA does a lot with romantic love, vs. my parents' Korea where people had arranged marriages so this thing about running around falling in love was just not a thing. Which isn't to say that it doesn't happen. I once saw a grandmother-aged woman on the subway hit a young couple with her umbrella because they were holding hands. No one did anything because from a Korean cultural standpoint the grandmother was correct.

Anyway, the unfortunate thing about romantic love is that it's a complete crapshoot. I think people hate that about it, hence all the unhelpful how-to relationship books. (Cynically speaking, if there were something that worked significantly for lots of people, IT WOULD BE THE #1 BESTSELLER ALWAYS.) I had crushes pretty much like clockwork once a year growing up, and the fascinating thing about them was that there wasn't much "choice" involved. I loved who I loved until it wore off and I could think clearly again, until of course the next crush hit.

Minimization of things I don't know about has worked out pretty well for me as a writing strategy, so hey. It can be done.

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