by John Lovelady
It’s hard to distill all the influences that shaped me into becoming a writer. I didn’t expect it to be so difficult to winnow them down and come up with the one or two or few that I consider the major instigators.
And sometimes, like in trying to plot a novel and staring at a screen full, or notebook full, or hand full of scraps of paper, I’m tempted to toss everything in the air and pick willy nilly one, or two or few and say these were the most important. (I close my eyes and point at the computer screen, no matter how tempting the image of it disintegrating into a glorious explosion of electronic bits from having been flung off an eight story balcony can sometimes be -- though that fantasy seems to be less and less lately. Perhaps that’s progress in my writing.
Another influence to add to the screen full: my computer[s].)
But Valentine’s Day, the Day of Love, Lovelady’s Day, deserves something a bit more serious, at least from us LovePeople, as one of our theatre cohorts syrupy designated my wife and me when we first discovered each other.
So I’ve come up with two. Without whom I would not be me.
His name was Eddie, a fellow student, and he took a very inexperienced small-town kid in hand in the eighth grade at L.C. Humes High School in Memphis and taught me about music and art and standing up for myself and having ideas and thoughts that were worth standing up for, and not giving a damn about what any one of your peers might think.
Security by knowledge. That was a stunning lesson for an insecure teenager. Tempered by my native niceness and never make a fuss-ness, it was a bracing set of instructions by example that has pretty much served me well ever since.
Every day Eddie challenged me, every day he annoyed me, every day he drove me to try harder by his being smug and knowledgeable and smarter and somehow or other not making me hate him for being who he was. He was my best man. We went our separate ways and he’s gone, now. I miss him dearly mainly for the opportunity to rub his nose in my successes. He would more than likely smirk and shrug, “Well, of course,” as if it were all his doing.
The other is my wife, Nancy. She is everything a wife should be. And more. Her own woman, too. Everyday she challenges me, everyday she annoys me, everyday she loves me unhesitatingly and unfailingly and totally fulfills me. Eddie adored her. I didn’t deserve her, he announced, and I was incredibly lucky that she allowed me to catch her. And he was right.
“You write such beautiful letters,” she would implore me, “you should write.”
“It’s not the same,” I would grouse. And it’s not. I wrote to her because I wanted to be a part of her and I wanted her to be a part of me. That’s not the same as telling a story.
Or maybe it is. A romance, anyway.
“You write such beautiful poetry; you should write.”
Poetry is a whole other world. Poetry is taking real life and making it realer.
Like writing. Stories. Like…romance.
Love is the intent of romance writers, our end all and be all. And it’s the hardest thing in the world to write about because everybody knows what love is. And our job is to say, no, you don’t. Not quite. There’s more. Way more. Let me tell you something new. Let me enlarge your world. Let me make you a better person. Love comes in all shapes and sizes, under all sorts of circumstances, and it’s worth everything to achieve. It is worth everything to strive for. To find a Nancy; to have had an Eddie.
It’s worth writing about.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
John has been a professional writer for about fifteen years after a career in television and theatre. One novel published, many, many short stories and now a four book series upcoming. NEVER LOVE A NAKED P.I. by Elizabeth Maynor will soon be newly re-minted on Amazon. Troy Storm’s first CoveHaven ménage, HAVING IT ALL, will soon appear on Secret Cravings Publishing.