An old joke ...
A Catholic priest, a Protestant minister, and a rabbi were discussing when life begins.
"Life begins at conception," the priest insisted.
"Life begins at birth," the minister said.
The rabbi pondered the question for a moment and said, "Life begin when the kids move out and the dog dies."
This week's writing prompt asks whether there's life for an author outside of writing. My response is, "Goodness, I certainly hope so."
For an author, writing is essential to, integral to, but not the be-all and end-all of life. It can't be, because our experiences inform our writing. Without writing, we can still have and learn from our experiences; but, without experiences, we have nothing to write about. Without experiences, our writing becomes flatulent and florid, utterly without substance or worth.
So, what does a romance writer know about worth?
Content produced for entertainment does not imply a lack of worth. If that were so, then Hollywood would be bankrupt. English literature teachers wouldn't keep trying to force their students to read Last of the Mohicans or Ulysses. We wouldn't revere William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, or Oscar Wilde as practically godlike in the firmament of English literature.
No, I didn't answer my question. A romance writer knows about worth because romance, as a general rule, focuses on the happiness of women. It's the only genre that consistently and deliberately heralds women as protagonists who act and are not merely acted upon. It's the only genre that upholds women as worthy of being written about.
That's what a romance writer knows about worth.
As for life without writing? I could live like that. I just wouldn't want to.
This week's blog prompt is simple: "Who would you kill or die to have dinner with?"
Aside from wincing at the grammatical errors, my answer is short: No one.
But wait ... there's more!
We must address the unspoken question of why not?
Really, is there anyone so important that enjoying a meal with him or her justifies murder? I don't think so. Is there anyone so important that I'd end my life to enjoy a meal with him or her? Again, I don't think so. That doesn't mean I wouldn't like to have supper with some people, currently living or historical figures. I'd even be happy to extend a carefully handwritten invitation if I believed for one split second that it had a snowball's chance in hell of being accepted and that shared meal actually happening.
I also know that there's no one who's itching that badly to have dinner with me, either.
So, let's hypothesize. Like Eric von Zipper, I snag my idol. Question arise. Is the house clean? I'd want the house to be clean. Will I cook or will we dine out? If I cook, what should I make? Do I have to worry about my guest's allergies? If we dine out, where should we go? Should I invite others to share in my good fortune and enjoy my guest's company, too. How long will my guest stay? If he or she expects to stay overnight, are there fresh sheets on the spare bed? What about breakfast? Ack! I feel my anxiety level rise just from these basic questions.
Then, of course, we have the all too strong a specter of disappointment looming over the new acquaintance. Will my idol disappoint me with rudeness, arrogance, conceit, banality, or other obnoxious trait that shows he or she has feet of clay? Will I prove a grave disappointment to my guest? Will anticipation quickly morph into dread and a desperate desire to escape the utter boredom and distaste of our conversation?
I think in this circumstance, it's better to let idols remain on their pedestals, shining and pretty and far above my touch. Opposite as stated in the 1995 movie Sabrina with Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond, illusions are not necessarily dangerous; they are safe.
The idea of a list of things to do has been around as long as humanity has had lists. In the latter 20th century, folks began building lists of things they wanted to do before they died, activities to add meaning to the dash between the years of their birth and dead chiseled on their tombstones. I have no idea who called such lists "bucket lists." I do know that I don't have one and neither does my husband.
I find the idea amusing, but have had far too many instances of life kicking me in the teeth to write something like that down, much less schedule those activities. The furthest I go is to say, "We plan to travel when my husband retires" and "We want to visit Italy and Ireland." Anything more specific and more scheduled waits until we get very close to that date and I'm ready to book the airline tickets and inform clients that I'll be out of the office.
Bucket lists make for entertaining fodder when it comes to developing stories. I've read several romances in which the heroine (usually) dedicates herself to a love one's bucket list after that loved one dies. She either meet the hero in checking off the items on the list or he helps her fulfill that commitment. Or maybe a bit of both.
I'm not sure why it's always the heroine who gets sucked into working on someone else's bucket list, but that's how it goes down in the books I've read that feature such a trope. You'll probably never see such a plot catalyst in my stories.
So, no bucket list for me. I look forward to the day when I can act upon whimsy and no longer feel obligated to plan my spontaneity.
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