Saturday, February 28, 2009

Thoughts on Romance

I wrote a story a few days ago dealing with road rage, and my boyfriend read it yesterday, and commented that "It reminded him of Tim Dorsey stories. Except he didn't know if I would like Tim Dorsey stories, because they don't have romance like my story does."

I was a bit perplexed. I didn't think my story had a bit of romance. There's a guy who gets road-head from a hooker, and a girl who gets jumped by her bisexual friend, with no indication that she's into it. When I put it that way, my boyfriend replied, "Well, maybe you will like Tim Dorsey's books."

I guess this situation makes me curious about what people think of romance. I think of it with regard to the time period referred to as Romantic - full of ideals and passion. I also think of romance as an intimate connection, a nice, old-fashioned way a guy treats a girl. Or a new, inventive way a person makes his or her significant other's heart flutter.

But is that what the word means?

My boyfriend seemed to think it just meant physical intimacy. Or perhaps he's naive, and doesn't think people have sex unless they are in love.

The bookstores seem to think it means a book with a predictable plot and detailed sex scenes. (I guess I'm kind of a book snob, but my favorite romances are found in the classics or the literary fiction sections.) has many definitions of it, many of them pertaining to creative works.

Is that the secret, then? Maybe romance isn't real. Perhaps it's something which artistic people have invented - a way of looking at relationships, but not really seeing what that relationship is, and instead seeing the relationship as what you wish it is, or want it to be.

What are YOUR thoughts on romance?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Day One of Goal = Failure

But I really valiantly tried. And I am still sick, so I think I'm going to cut myself some slack.

Today I began a story about a girl named Kate Prattle. She's a bitch, and I have no idea what's going to happen to her. But I'm having fun. And I wrote 2009 words! That's a huge deal for me; I'm a notoriously slow writer.

Tomorrow, I'm going to finish the story. Period. And I have all day to do it, because I should be free after 1:00 or so in the afternoon.

I don't know if I'm going to post it here, though.

Being sick for the last few days has made me feel utterly useless

It has also made my nose sore. AND it has also given me time to think.

Too much time to think. As if I don't already think too much. Anyone who's a philosopher on purpose probably has to see a therapist non-stop. Of course, this therapist probably just sits in her chair and repeatedly says, "You need to CHILL. Do yoga or something. Geesh."

Anyway, what have I been thinking about? Mortality - which, I'm not going to lie, I was kind of hoping would soon end when I couldn't breathe, and I didn't want to blow my nose because the enraged, raw nasal passages were giving me pain for incessantly placing a tissue against them. I mean, the fact is, we don't live very long. I want to do things I enjoy, because those things probably have the greatest chance of living on. Plus, it would be really cool to write and discover there are people who enjoy my writing.

When I was in high school, my creative writing teacher forced us kids in the class to submit pieces of writing. So I did. Even though pretty much every assignment I ever did for the class was half-assed, because - well, because it was high school, I guess. Yet I still won second place for a "one-act play," and some money from it. I also got published in Kaleidoscope - some poem. I don't know. Like, I'll write poetry if you make me, but it's basically me being a smartass. I don't care for poetry much, and there's enough of the bad stuff out there that I'm not going to terrorize people by adding mine to the garbage heap.

I guess the point I'm trying to make in this meandering blog entry is that I feel like I used to write well. Yes, I did use past tense for a reason. Because, while I feel pretty confident in my essay-writing skills (even if Writer's Digest isn't particularly fond of it), I feel like my talent for writing fiction has significantly decreased.

I want to get better. When I write something I like, I have this feeling of accomplishment. And the only way to get better is to write. Which is hard, when I feel like everything I write is dreck. That's right - dreck.

Anyway, I've made a new goal for myself. I want to write something complete every day - a short story, or a character sketch, or SOMETHING, so long as that something is complete. Maybe even a poem. A really bad poem that I'll never let you see.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This is Great

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, talks about looking at the creative process differently.

I admit, I've never read anything of hers, at least, not yet. But she is a truly gifted speaker.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My V-Day Essay Wasn't Good Enough

But I like it. Also, it's seasonal, so I figure it's fine to post it here. I hope it entertains you.

Love Gladiators

Since Valentine's Day seems to be a holiday designed to torture the single (or make it easier for men to seduce females with no interest in a long-term relationship), this essay aims to assure the date-less that they are not unnatural. Everyone has trouble in the arena of romance. We are all trained by media influences as to what romance is supposed to consist of, and then we jump into the amphitheater, bearing our breasts, and are quickly stabbed by more experienced lovers, who know how to aim for the heart. Unfortunately, the Emperor feels that our training has been too costly and extensive to allow us to die, and so we are just tortured, repeatedly, because most of us cannot bear being alone.

Yet, do not despair! For even the goddess of love, and her son (who prefers arrows to pierce the hearts of people), have had trouble with their own love lives. Surely, if the gods themselves endure difficulties, we mortals should not feel too terrible about being single for one night of the year, even if that day is dedicated to a Christian saint who thought getting laid was so important, he defied a Roman Emperor, and married couples behind Claudius' back.

In one of the oldest known poems in the Hellenistic culture, one of the Homeric Hymns to Aphrodite, a tale of one of Aphrodite's disastrous romantic relationships is recounted. According to our poet narrator, Zeus, tired of Aphrodite's supercilious manner, caused her to feel love for the mortal Anchises. The consummation of Aphrodite's desire for this mortal resulted in a son, Aeneas, and the feeling of shame in Aphrodite herself. As a goddess, it was beneath her to make love to a mortal. The Valentine's moral that can be gleaned from this tale, of course, is that it is better to celebrate the holiday by yourself, than to cave in to loneliness and have a one-night stand with someone who is beneath you. Such doings can, if proper precautions are not taken, result in bastard children, sexually transmitted disease, and, regardless of whether or not a prophylactic is used, shame.

Not yet cured of Valentine's Day depression? Then take heed from the tale of Cupid and Psyche. Psyche's so beautiful she makes the goddess of love jealous. So, this brave, calculating goddess tells her son to avenge her (there's some feminist action for you). While originally intending to do his mother's bidding, the son, Cupid, falls in love with the transgressor instead. Cupid and Psyche marry, and he gives her riches and luxuries. Psyche, however, thinks she's married to a monster, and at the urging of her sisters, looks at Cupid by candlelight. Wax slips from the candle, however, awaking her husband, who flees, and causing a quest on Psyche's behalf to get her husband back. From this tale, the observant individual notes that beauty can hide horrible things, chief among them, a curious person who will burn you with candle wax.

Doesn't the word "single" have a ringing tone of purity to it?

Then, of course, there's the tale that, while not dealing with a Greco-Roman love god, is still in the Greco-Roman mythological family. Pluto, god of the Underworld, sees a pretty girl picking flowers in a field, and "falls in love" with her. His amorous feelings cause him to rip asunder part of the earth, from which he emerges in his chariot. He kidnaps the beauty, Persephone, and hauls her back to the Underworld with him. This tale reminds us all that it's better to be at home watching romance movies and munching popcorn, instead of on a date with some jerk who, before the evening ends, will rape you.

Thus, the Greco-Roman tales recounted provide evidence that Valentine's Day, while revered for its' romantic connotations, might really be better ignored in favor of being alone. While the candy boxes and cute stuffed animals smirk at the single from the aisles, the single should simply smirk in return, remembering that romance has its hazards. Better to avoid the dating scene on this day, rather than perpetrate acts unnatural to one's moral fiber, and result in feelings of shame, be burnt by curious (or kinky) lovers, or suffer that ultimate act of depravity at the hands of a jerk. These mistakes can easily be avoided by refusing to date someone just because it's Valentine's Day.

The End

Sources: The classical analysis comes from my own education from good ol' U of M, where I received a Bachelor's Degree in Classical Civilizations in April of 2008.

The snarky little remark about the origins of Valentine's Day, on the other hand, was derived from (specifically, While I really already should have known this tidbit of information, I didn't, and had to Google it, like many others.

And here's a link to the possibly winning essays, poems & letters, which are, of course, duly superior to mine: All About V-Day; it's not a war, though it sounds like it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

MY essay is done

And I have submitted my Valentine's Day essay to the Writer's Digest contest.

I wish all other submitters luck!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The 2-Day Challenge

Today is February 4th. February 6th is the last day for Writer's Digest's Red Heart, Black Heart contest.

That's right. Valentine's Day draws near, and Eros readies his poison-tipped arrows to torture us poor mortals (and, most likely, his mother (again)). Whether you're sappy, or of a more cynical nature, you can surely write something concerning Valentine's Day in poem, letter, or essay form.

And, to get you in the mood, here's a bit of the movie Mansfield Park. (I seriously have a crush on Henry Crawford...)

Monday, February 2, 2009

I Feel Like I Don't Post Enough

And I certainly don't post regularly.

So here's a video of Joyce Carol Oates talking about writing, particularly focusing on characters.

There is one part in the video where she looks like she's fidgeting with/fixing her bra, but I really liked listening to her, especially her talk about how she hates writing her novel for the first six weeks.