All the energy of a romance comes from the tension created by keeping the lovers away from each other. Once they are really, finally committed to each other, the story is over. Think of all those TV series that A) explicitly ended with the man and woman getting married or B) shot themselves in the foot (unintentionally ending the series) by bringing the lovers together. (I have grave worries for Big Bang Theory on this account.)
Everyone seems to believe in the happily ever after so much that whatever love has joined together may break apart, but there certainly won’t be anymore romantic moments. Not true, but how do you fight that? As I recall Cheers did an interesting turn where the consummated love was in the summer, off screen, and the new season began with everything in tatters. Which is an interesting way to renew things since it is less and less believable that people will be dancing around love for years.
Luckily, I’m not facing the challenge of a TV series. But even in novels and movies, some things don’t play the way they used to. Domineering fathers who stand in the way of love ain’t what they used to be. The old standby , one lover caught in a loveless marriage, has lost its punch since most marriages end in divorce. I wanted to understand what the options were, so I did some analysis.
There may be fifty ways to leave your lover, but I found, just off the top of my head, forty ways to keep lovers apart. This was way too many to absorb, so I sorted them according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. (A need jerk response. I expect to end my days going to cafeterias and sorting the vegetables according to Maslow.) This worked well. Physical reasons why people were separated included distance, time (in various forms such as Lake House), disease (Fifty First Dates) and death (Ghost). Safety brought in war, addiction, mistaken identity and crime (Some Like It Hot). Social included all those stories where friends, family (Romeo and Juliet), taboos (like age differences) or culture stand in the way.
Status/Esteem is trickier. While there is overlap when I look at stories on every level, teasing status out is trickier. Perhaps the purest play here is when someone is perceived as trying to climb the ladder of success at the other person’s expense. Dirty Dancing and Working Girl come to mind as possibilities. It Happened One Night might fit in. The biggest lesson, looking at these, is the doubt/trust dynamic. It is present in the other levels, but it seems to be in high relief here.
The last step up the Maslow pyramid is Self-Actualization. The level is all about becoming all that we should be, and I thing “becoming” is necessarily not set or stable. In Ghandi, it (as a grace note in the movie) seems to take the hero out of love, where he at last eschews the marriage bed in his search for a more spiritual life. The reverse might work in a story (such as those torrid tales of women luring priests into their beds), but love bringing someone away from self-actualization feels negative. Perhaps Casablanca, where Rick becomes who he is supposed to be and creates a deeper, truer bond of love because he has moved up the pyramid is a good example.
Anyway, either I now have a powerful tool for keeping lovers apart or I successfully managed to avoid writing for half a day.
I went to Atlanta to do some promo work for Innovation Passport. The conference was not exactly how I imagined it, but that was a good thing. I was forced to listen more, meet more people and create opportunities. I had very good practice in questioning people about their work, and I think this will help me to promote in a less me-centered way than I might have if there had been more opportunities for me to be the center of attention. I also was able to observe another writer promoting her books. She has a poster, fliers, a box of books, rounded the price to an even $20 and worked her way over to a good table for selling and signing. The only bet I saw that she missed was not having her picture on the poster. I’m sure there were folks who would have bought the book from her if they’d been able to spot her.
I also entered portions of Lucky Numbers and The Charm Offensive in contests. This is mostly dog work. Every competition has a different format for text and different entry forms. All of them want headers and RTF copies (which kill Word headers). Lots of page-by-page reworking of manuscripts. Ugh.
Good news. Phase Six is now available on Hypersonic Tales. It’s a free read. I also sold Civil Complaint, which will be on the Electric Spec site October 31. My About page has links for these and other stories. I’ve now sold all the short stories I had written and circulated prior to digging into Lucky Numbers. Time to write some more.