Finding Home

This blog post's subtitle should be something like: Cheesy Romance Movies and Thoughts on Meeting my Husband, 10 years later. 

I'm going to tackle the "Cheesy Romance Movies" part first. 

I've been staying up late recently, so I thought I would waste the time by watching cheesy romance movies on Netflix. I've watched a lot of them recently, just because I think the Rom-Com has died in Hollywood, so a lot more indie ones are coming out and they get to Netflix pretty quickly or something like that. (Come on, what was the last really good Rom-Com Hollywood produced?) 

As I was watching one last night, I realized that most of them have a good premise. Most of them even have good actors, even if they aren't famous. Probably the worst things I've seen in the movies are related to character, and too much emphasis on dialogue. And they all even have between one and two really good lines/discussions about love or relationships that made me smile. While I don't think the execution is always the greatest, whatever the reason (unrelatable character, unexpressive character, character is obsessed with dating/getting married/etc., side characters are hardly fleshed out, or some of the weird side-plots, most of them have made me stay to watch the end and sometimes I'll even tear up, the hard-to-impress-impossibly-high-standards-for-romance-romantic that I am. 

So, what does this have to do with my husband? 

This year marks the ten-year mark for us. We've been together for more than a third of my life, and if life's averages are any indication, I have fifty to a hundred more years more with him.

As much as I'd like to think our love story could rival  some of the literary greats, I know ours doesn't. We met at college. I'm not the most likeable person when you meet me, and even after you meet me, and he wasn't the most articulate, and neither was he really prepared for a real relationship. We had a lot of touch and go, and then all of a sudden, we clicked and then the rest followed. 

In many ways, I think our love story is sort of like a cheesy romance movie, where my character is this diamond in the rough (diamond in the really rough) and he was this wandering soul looking for a home even as he had to build one for himself. At times, the dialogue was bad, but we have so many good lines over ten years I can't help but smile as I think of them. And at times, the subplots are definitely weird and uncomfortable, and there are terrible fights followed by half-muttered apologies from me or grand ones from him. My tragic flaws are still there. True love has changed me, and continues to do so, often at my pride's displeasure.

So while cheesy romance movies are less than completely captivating, I find that they are ultimately more real than most of the mainstream ones. For me, after ten years now, it's a good reminder about the realities between realism and fantasy. I thought I would fall in love and get married and live happily ever after, but that "live" part is still about so much more than just being happy. It's about being true to yourself and your life, even if it's a grand mix of emotions and a wide range of experiences. 

Happy 10 years to you, my beloved!

Looking for My Own Niche

One the best moments this year was when I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, and the guy - whom I desperately admire, have severe brain crushes on - said something that was terribly profound. 

He said that adults were just people who are doing their best. That the majority of them were people who weren't sure what they were doing half the time, or they were just reacting in the moment. 

It was a relief to hear that. 

So much of who I am wants me to know I am doing the right thing. Whether it is writing or mothering or wifing around, I want to know I am doing the best thing all the time forever. 

It's hard to feel like you're doing the right thing sometimes. Some things are black and white. Other things allow you a rainbow of selections. 

For example, what is your favorite color? Mine is pretty much blue. I love blue. I don't know when I started liking blue, but it's always been something I've known that I love. Is there anything wrong with loving blue, instead of some other color? I don't think so. (It would take a lot of persuasive convincing to get me to change my mind on this.) This type of scenario is different from questions like "Should you rob a bank?" where the answer is pretty obvious.

There's a trick to knowing which ones are which when it comes to that. I haven't quite figured that out yet. It's easier to see when things are black and white. But we live in a world of gray, along with the rest of the rainbow. 

So hearing that I'm not the only person in the world who has a problem being told to "be your best self" and having no clue what to do for half of that and having very little ideas of where to start to get there (especially after all the major things have been taken care of) ... That makes me feel pretty good. 

And I'm glad, because not knowing where I fit into life in the grand scheme of things can haunt me. 

While this is something I will probably struggle with for the rest of my life, give or take how much attention I pay to it, the quest begins to find my own writing niche. 

I'll have to think about that some - even if it's something I probably should have thought about before, ha! 

C. S. JohnsonComment
Riding the Learning Curse

I am one novella away from finishing up my Once Upon a Princess saga. Yay for me! 

There are somethings that I have learned through this experience. I want to try new things, and with each book, I try to think about the things that I really need to work on and the things I did a pretty good job on. I know as a teacher, it is easier to be the learner; someone will always be there to correct you. Assuming you have a good teacher, anyway. 

Here's what I've learned about myself as a writer from the "Beauty's Curse" series. 

1. I am not as good of a novella writer as I think I am. 

My books are pretty good. Literally, even with my worst reviews, there's nothing that condemns them as pure crap, and it's good enough people will finish it. I think they sell well. I think they are above average in a sea of self-publishing. But I can tell that I do not like them as much as my longer novels. Much of what I did in order to make novellas was to curb my enthusiasm for description, setting, expression. This is just not who I am. While some of it is warranted from time to time, I think I will be allowing myself to write longer works in the future just because of this. I don't like curtailing some of my superfluous moments. Real beauty happens when I allow myself to be myself, not to fit a sales category. 

2. Keep it simple when it comes to characters. 

I like complicated characters. I like for people to wonder about their motivations, I like to have surprises, and even McKee says that people are "walking contradictions." (This is something I know not everyone likes about my work - even my mother said sometimes she has to wonder too much about some characters, and I laughed when she said it.) So I can't have too many characters. While I like their added banter and the different qualities they bring out, at times my storyline feels cluttered with people and their baggage. 

3. I obsess over Time. 

I like to have things planned out. I really do. But it can be the very epitome of half-blessing, half-curse. Whether it is fictional or real, when I am either reading or writing, sometimes I feel like my timing is off. I need to work on that. Especially with #kingdom1, since it is set in a real historical period and I have to know my dates. I see that book will likely be my next big test for that.

That's about it. One of the worst parts of being a writer in a world where seemingly everyone is writing, and that good writing often takes time, I still haven't found a particular niche in my writing. I like all sorts of adventures, just like I like a lot of different movies and shows in my Netflix queue. So I'll have to see if I can think of anything else to add to my writing in the days to come. 


Here's to getting better! 

C. S. JohnsonComment