As Valentines Day was last week, it seems only right that we look into the subject at its heart.
Are you in love? Have you ever been in love? Who with? What with?
Love is probably the most evocative emotion, being the driving force for art work, music, writing, architecture and so many other great things from human existence but also for so much pain and suffering as well. Love of people, of a god figure, of wealth or almost anything can be found wound within our history as a species, always highlighted as being the reason why so many of the actions of our ancestors came to be.
People will lie for love, steal for love, kill for love and go to war for love. There have been the greatest works inspired by love and the greatest atrocities. The human race seems to have an inbuilt need for love and to react in the most wide ranging of fashions at its behest.
As a writer, I have tried to incorporate an element of a love story within my series of Dragon books but I’ve been very keen to stay away from the ‘cheese’ that topic can evoke if it’s just shoe horned in rather than there being a good reason for it. I’m never going to suggest that Shakespeare and I are on the same level but I do try to emulate the fact that he wrote love so compellingly without resorting to ‘pulpy’ comments. I’m aiming to write love as being more than just boy meets girl. There needs to be more meat to the subject.
Anthony and Cleopatra is a love story of two people but also of individuals and power, their peoples and what they ‘should’ be doing. Romeo and Juliet is a tale of the importance of personal love over the power of familial bonds and expectations, how choices are controlled by factors sometimes beyond our ability to direct. Both are easily seen as being love stories but they are so much more than that. The love fits into the real world as a fragment of the larger picture and that’s what happens in the real world. Love will affect us in our normal days but we still have to keep going to work, we still have to do the shopping, we still have to do all of the mundane nonsense we do on any other day. Give it too much emphasis and the story gets weighed down by the syrup, not enough and no-one cares about the struggles of the characters.
And that’s the trouble.
That balancing act is so much harder than I had ever expected. I’ve included a serving of love story but I’ve jumped back to it on more than one occasion after coming to the conclusion that it just didn’t feel quite right. Sometimes it was too saccharine, other times too perfunctory and other times just crap. For an emotion so common to all of us, love is proving to be tough to pin down.
But I’ll keep going. I need to include as much reality within any story about Dragons Aliens or the like as I can.