The Story of Love
Never in the history of writing is a word more polarizing right? Okay that’s a generalization, and sure a lot of words might fit into the category, but love is the one that comes to mind today. I think of the little boy played by Fred Savage who hates that the book his grandpa is reading has kissing! Love stories are romance stories in most people’s minds. Love songs are sappy. Again generalizing but I think as a society there are people who love love and people who don’t.
Having spent this past weekend with my nephew who was working on a story of his own I reflected on myself at his age. When I was ten I also began writing. While I wasn’t the natural born storyteller my nephew is, I used writing as a way to express myself when I found words difficult to say out loud. I wrote because Grandma was a writer and I was like her. You could say that writing is in the blood. Each generation seems to have a writer in our family.
While he is writing a story of children’s make believe adventures, when I started out it was always in the quest for love. Poems about love, not only in a romantic sense but love in all its glory. I’ve seen love in all forms. I’ve experienced many types of love or lack there-of. I think the one I’ve lacked the most is philautia, or self love. I’ve been blessed with eros, philia, ludus, storge, pragma and agape. Storge was also a source of love I searched for, unconditional love. Because it always seemed to me that love came with strings attached. I love you, if you are perfect. I love you if you are kind. I love you but you have to change this or that. Unconditional love is still hard to come by for the world at large.
When we talk about love there is often a sense of beauty, romance, longing, hearts and flowers that come to mind. When we don’t have love looking at those in love fills us with pain. When we have love we feel bulletproof. When love ends we hope to reclaim it, and when love is lost with only the hope that we rejoin them on the other side we yearn for what was.
While writing throughout my youth, into my teen years, and beyond I felt a story of love was necessary. I am drawn to stories of love. I love love. It is my style of writing to tell those stories. I am a hopeless romantic. I wore out my copy of Romeo and Juliet looking for answers within in about the nature of love. Was it true or fickle. Was it kind or only full of heartbreak.
I looked to my favorite Disney movie for answers as well, and ignored the criticism that it was just Stockholm syndrome. A heroine who saves herself but also falls for her “captor” by seeing the good, kind, cursed person is not a bad thing. People were just missing the point of it by making it about imprisonment. Don’t we save each other in love all the time. Couldn’t each choice we make be one leading us down a dark, sinister, beastly path? Do the ones who love us the most save us from ourselves and our darkness?
It was important to me to look at all sides of a story regarding romance. They don’t always end with happily ever after. Sometimes tragedy strikes before we have a chance to hold hands and walk off into the sunset. When Pixar’s Up! came out I found the first 8 minutes mirrored my own love life. We knew each other since our early twenties instead of childhood but we hope to die together in our 80’s so neither had to live without the other. With no children of our own we could hope for a life like Carl and Ellie.
In Love I’ve been blessed. I may not have a great many things I thought I would when I was that shy, quite, ten year old with her nose buried in a book or scribbling on a pad of paper, but I have the love of my life. He is all the Greek words of love in one imperfect package.
Together we have grown and fought and cried and screamed. We’ve been broken by each other, by the world, by life. But it has only bound us to each other more. It takes work to make relationships work. It takes a commitment. It takes storge, unconditional love. It takes agape, empathetic universal love. It takes philia, intimate and authentic friendship. It takes philautia, self love and pragma, committed love. Eros and ludus, playful, flirting, romantic, passionate love.
Without understanding love when writing a love story does it fall flat? I think the best writers of love stories understand it is not just about passion and sex, although it seems to be what sells these days. Don’t get me wrong I love a good steamy romance, but it is only once in a while I turn to those books. A quick read, a filler while waiting for other books.
What I long for from a story, what I searched for in life, the reason I got into wedding photography for a few short lived years, was because I wanted to see love up close for all it’s beauty, wonder, amazement. For all it had to give and could be. Failures in love happen, heartache, tragedy, it is all written in the best love stories. But so is the triumph of love. Which I think readers long for because so often, especially in this era, love is missing.
Early in my published career I had the slogan “Dark Tales of Love and Adventure.” I did away with this because too often a single word turned people away. LOVE. I heard “I don’t read romance.” While I am a multi-genre artist love stories are and always will have a place in the stories I tell. So I pivoted and still found that people didn’t appreciate my brand of stories. But that’s okay. I love what I do and I love what I write and love will always be a part of each story that makes it to the pages. When you find something you are passionate about, write it. Love happens to be my passion.