I’m starting a new book and new books are a lot like new relationships. They’re so yummy. I am in love…or infatuated on my way to love and every minute spent exploring this new entity is delicious. The snags are inevitable and like any new relationship, there will be misunderstandings, moments of panic and sheer terror and opportunities to dive in, risks be darned or hold back for fear of going too far, or getting too involved.
I’ll doubt the viability of the book more than once and go through a major crisis about half-way to the end, sure that there isn’t enough story for a real book, or that the story isn’t what I wanted it to be. Does that sound familiar? It’s a little nerve wracking to realize how much writing is like falling in love and learning to be a couple.
And it doesn’t always work. Sometimes books have to be abandoned (I’ve never done this, but know lots of authors that have), gutted (done it – hate it – it’s like death…or divorce) or re-written multiple times to get the story right. Relationships are like that, aren’t they? They don’t just happen…you have to work to make them something worth sharing with each other and the rest of your world. The same is true for stories. I don’t know a single author who thinks writing is easy. Fun? Yes. Amazing? Definitely. Wondrous even. But easy? Nope.
While I was growing up, my mom was fond of the saying, “Anything worth having is worth working for.” That’s true of a really good book or a truly great relationship. I think romance shows that relationships don’t just happen, any more than the books that contain them.
When I was dating my husband, we had many defining moments in our relationship, but one stands out clearly. His family wasn’t too happy with the thought of him having a serious girlfriend and they weren’t above trying to undermine the relationship. One time, they guilted him into sticking around well past when he said he’d have to be finished helping his sister move so he could come to see me (we lived in different cities). I called him hours after he was supposed to at my apartment and he was finally home. He asked if I still wanted him to come. This was a make or break moment. If I’d said no, he would have let our relationship go, but he had a lot to learn about me and my tenacity.
Of course I wanted him to come. I had some yelling to do…mostly about how stupid he was to think that one screw up was going to end my feelings for him. But the thing is…I knew that relationships aren’t without pain, it’s what comes after that makes or breaks them. And we both learned something that night. I learned that tenacity was a good thing and he learned that forgiveness was not a Utopian ideal. We’ve been married 18 years and we are both so very much in love. That was a good night.
And when I hit that moment with this book that I want to throw my computer across the room, I’m going to remember that night…I’m going to remember that anything worth having is worth working … and sacrificing … for. I’m going to remember that new books don’t just happen.
What about you? Can you remember a relationship defining moment? Or a time when you realized the job you love wasn’t all sweetness and light but it was worth pursuing despite the pitfalls you’d encountered?
Looking forward to your responses!