Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bumps in the Road

“Requiem of the Night” Audiomachine (Helios, 2012)

I took the first part of the month off. 

I think after spilling all that emotion into 30 days sent me into overload. I had a hard time processing and separating and weeding through my hero and heroine’s life together. I think love on a grand scale is difficult to comprehend. Love by itself is complex just like the two who experience this overwhelming emotion. 

I floated in this abyss of inner reflection for days. Time slowed to a snail’s pace when before it was set on warp speed. Nothing seemed the same through these eyes. Then I became aware of conversations around me, advertising emails, dashboard reblogs- for days I saw nothing but reminders. I felt like I was being given a message I wasn’t listening to at all. Then, I realized this was it. To understand, to reflect- I embraced this new lesson wholeheartedly. 

Time is not infinite. Nor are the depths of love. 

Love itself is not the only thing that brings two beings together. The complexity of relationships transcends what we write on a page and becomes about what the reader brings from their own experiences. 

Love is a bit like time. We all have it, except sometimes we forget the magic it brings to your life. We might not even have it in the capacity we want it, yet it still remains there. We get swept away by greed and envy, longing and passion. We lose sight of this gift we’re given. We beg for more of it, wish for it to go away. We get wrapped up in this feeling you can’t imagine living without. 

But love isn’t unconditional. Nothing understands the depths of unconditional. Humans are so quickly swept away by emotion that it clouds our judgment. Even when we think we’re thinking rationally and without prejudice; we cannot be unconditional. We have breaking points- that’s what makes us human. There is always a but

To my hero and heroine who are not human, love is a luxury. Love is so rare in a world filled deception and despair that few have ever truly found it; nor do they actively search for it. They have a saying: “Love is a curse. For once you find it; you’re destined to lose it.”

Once in love though they die for it. Fight wars for it. Give up their souls to save it. They live without the constraints of time. Think about living timelessly without emotions. Then think about living timelessly having love and lost it. Which would be worse? You’d go crazy looking for love and go crazy from knowing it and having lost it. There is no true answer. You could have everything you wanted but love. You could have love but nothing else. 

We’re always going to ask for something we don’t have. Giving your characters humanization allows our characters to interact with readers even when they’re not human. No one can be perfect, and our characters cannot be either. Love stories have bumps in the road (sometimes chasms, mountains, oceans, worlds in the way) it’s the story of getting there that makes the difference. I mean, if love was easy to obtain, we’d think something was about to go wrong anyway. It’s what we are willing to do to get this precious commodity and what we are willing to do to keep it that gives us a story.

What is your favorite bump in the road for a love story? What’s your breaking point- your but- that makes the story no longer a love story but a tragedy?


Maureen said...

When does a love story descend into tragedy...good question! I have characters who are all but immortal in my series and one in particular who doesn't know if he's immortal, but he likely is. The tragedy for him is he has loved and he will love and he does love...but he always loses his lover. Deep within his acceptance of this fact is the despair of knowing it.

He watches those around him who are probably going to walk the same path and he fights to help them not lose their chances for love...however fleeting or lasting it may be.

I'm not sure his life is tragic or a triumph over tragedy.

quantum said...

Wow Sin.
You can't raise the bar higher than this!

Many moons ago I remember taking part in a debate between the University Christian Society and the Humanist Society to determine the meaning of life. The Christians came armed with bibles and biblical quotes while the humanists had their logical arguments and quotes from the likes of Bertrand Russell and T H Huxley. As I recall, the only common ground was found in the power of love and its many manifestations. To quote George Sands:
"There is only one happiness in life: to love and be loved."

I think the bump that brings most sadness for me is when a couple who are deeply in love are parted by death. Particularly tragic for an immortal in love with a mortal.

Maureen, how will Miranda cope if Jack is killed ..... doesn't bear thinking about! LOL

Marnee Bailey said...

I think a story turns from a love story to a tragedy when hope is lost. I think hope battles tragedy. When characters stop hoping, when they give up, I think that's the place where things become tragic.

Q - I love that common ground between philosophical types is love. That makes me happy. I felt the same why last week (week before that) when the pope came out and said that all different peoples, no matter their beliefs, can find common ground in doing good in the world. Now that is a message that will bring love to the world.

Sin said...

Timeless and immortality ... these things can be tragedies all on their own.

The tragedy for him is he has loved and he will love and he does love...but he always loses his lover. Chanceroo, is this a case of history repeats itself until you finally get it right?

Sin said...

Thanks, Q.

I read The Time Keeper recently by Mitch Albom (which is what started all this) and in the book the lesson is about time and how we use it. But I think fundamentally, the lesson can be transferred to love and how it's many forms weave through our lives. If only more people had conscious thought about the energy they put out into the world there would be less fighting over petty insignificant "problems". The meaning of life is different for everyone. The meaning of love and sacrifice is never the same for two people. Life is like a snowflake- no two are the same.

Terri Osburn said...

For some reason the song title I Write Sins Not Tragedies popped into my head. Probably because my first thought was that I don't write tragedy. But even a good HEA needs a black moment to make the ending all the more satisfying.

Great answers so far. I think sometimes the tragedy comes when one character sacrifices too much. Their pride or honor or misguided ideas on what is right lead them to give up instead of going after what they want. What they deserve. That's a tragedy to me.

Q, love IS the common ground. I've told my daughter, the only real rule for life is to be kind. That's it. If we all embraced this rule and worked hard to always be kind, this world would be a much better place.

Sin said...

story turns from a love story to a tragedy when hope is lost.

This is brilliant, Marn.

You have to dig down deep to keep going. That little spark inside us of never giving up no matter how dark the moment. On a grander scheme of love, isn't that what a partner is for- to give you hope in the face of tragedy?

Sin said...

I do love that song.

I think sometimes the tragedy comes when one character sacrifices too much.

I agree with this. Some times one character tries to take everything onto themselves because they either don't know how to ask for help or this character feels like everything that has happened is their fault. Or the character doesn't want anyone to know how everything is falling apart.

You're right. It's a matter of pride. But until the lesson is learned, you're blinded to the fact.

MsHellion said...

Death is a big one, unless you're a big believer of the hereafter and know you'll see them again. Or can sometimes still feel them nearby if you pause.


I think the bigger tragedy for me is when someone loves you, knows you inside and out, you're vulnerable to them but because they love you, you forget you can be very fragile--so showing up one day and finding the person who loves you most, who you believe would rather die than hurt you, is the first one to plunge the knife. They know your weakest links. They exploit them. It's that moment where you're reminded love is conditional--and they just proved it.

Generally it's that thing you trust someone not to hurt you with and then they do it. A nice shiny black moment. :)

Sin said...

The greatest tragedy of all- love.

Tragedy to have it. Tragedy to lose it. It makes you as strong as you are weak.

Janga said...

A fascinating and provocative discussion, Sin!

I don’t think romance fiction can be truly tragic because whether one accepts the RWA definition that specifies “an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending,” prefers Jenny Crusie’s idea that the ending of a romance novel must offer an “emotionally just” resolution, or subscribes to Pamela Regis’s eight step definition which ends with a declaration of love and a betrothal, romance fiction ends, as Marnie suggested in her comment, on a hopeful note.

According to Northrop Frye’s stages, tragedy begins with “encroachment,” that is, the protagonist makes a wrong choice, often blindly because he/she is overconfident in his/her ability to control events or sometimes through an inability to see how choices affect others. I think we do see this stage of tragedy in romance, and that it is often the overconfidence or insensitivity of the protagonist that leads to the “black moment” or, to use Regis’s term, “the point of ritual death.” But whereas in tragedy that error leads irreversibly to catastrophe, in romance the focus is not on the powerlessness of the protagonist to change what is set in motion but rather on the power of love to redeem, to restore, to reconcile, to give a “happy ending.”

I do think a love story can end tragically. Romeo and Juliet does, for example. Even if one argues that the play is not a tragedy, the love story itself ends tragically. Some would say the possibility of a tragic ending is a primary difference in a love story and a romance.

P. Kirby said...

"I do think a love story can end tragically. Romeo and Juliet does, for example."

Not quite in the same vein, but I see the movie Gladiator as having a happy ending even though...spoiler, I guess....the hero dies. I mean, he's kicked the antagonist's ass, and in death is reunited with his true love. Works for me.

In general, however, death is a big downer in a love story unless there's some kind of reincarnation-y twist.

"What is your favorite bump in the road for a love story?"

I like the bump in the road in the M/M romance I'm currently reading. Basically, the POV hero, after a bunch of unhappy events, is briefly in a terrific place. He's in love with a great guy. He's come out to his grandfather (accidentally), and after an ugly scene, grandfather has accepted him and his lover. His failing business is no longer failing and he's going to go back to university.

And you just know the shit is gonna come down hard. Since I really love this couple and want to see it work out, when I read the last sort of ominous sentence in the "happy," chapter, I got a big old sinking feeling. And...then, bad stuff happens. Very effective writing, IMO.

Maureen said...

Q - Jake and Miranda face so much in 30 books, together, but wow, even together can be painful at times. As Hel says, no one can hurt you like the ones who know you well.

My timeless character comes into the series in book four and it takes a few books before he redeems himself as more than a powerful enemy, or sorts.

I do agree with Janga, romance and tragedy can walk off hand in hand. It's one of the most hopeful ways to end a story. If you believe in a great ever after. Now their pain is done with and they have it all, somewhere without the pain.

Sin said...

Janga, your comment was worded so beautifully. And interesting to me mostly because I'm ignorant of the actual definitions defined by experts in these fields.

It's very obvious to me that I don't write romance at all. lol

Sin said...

Pat, that always works for me too. In the end, if you receive what you've been seeking then it's a happy/hopeful ending. I don't even mind the dying thing so much as long as it's worked out in the end.

That sounds crazy, but *shrugs* I'm just like that.