Writing About Past Loves
Is it the advent of Valentine's Day, a holiday I claim to dislike, but that I seem to like writing about?
Is it some Chaucer-ian longing for springtime? Is it middle age?
Whatever it is, whatever has come over me, last week I rather grandly told some friends, "I'm writing a collection of short stories about my exes."
This is only partially true. What I didn't tell them is that I'm writing a collection of short fiction about the pathology and injury of romantic love. How's that for Valentine's Day romance?
I remember the night this idea started. Last year, I flew to Florida for a conference, and, being frugal, I bypassed the officially listed lodgings for something nearby and cheaper.
Well, you really *do* get what you pay for. That first wakeful night in that gritty motel (which looked nothing like its web photos), I relived one particular relationship that, while brief, was nothing short of madness.
After that sleepless and self-flagellating night, I became intrigued by the narrative, the vertiginous and often willful fall from affection to estrangement.
So I began scribbling some fictional stories that are very loosely based on my own past dalliances. Some stories auto-emerged in third person; some insisted on a first-person voice. Some are from the man's point of view--which is especially fun to write.
Note I say the stories are only "loosely" based on autobiographical events. Like I say, I want to excavate and examine the injury, not the chronology here. And anyway, when it comes to writing fiction, the imagination can produce much more exciting stuff than the past ever could (most of the time).
I'm having great, great fun with this. Last night I even got up out of my bed to pen the latest story and kept going until 2 a.m.
Listen, if this all sounds a little grim and revisionist, let me tell you that I have little or no truck with all that "don't let your past define you" malarkey. Of course our pasts define us. Our history is the only real narrative we have--and even that's dodgy at the best of times.
So I live in the past. Doesn't every writer?