The Lost Romantic

What happens when you can no longer write what you want to write? I write romance, er, well, I used to. It always felt right to me. It was not uncommon for my mind to drift off during the day and find myself dreaming of romantic gestures, sensual dialogue and even steamy sex scenes.

This past December I had to get an MRI done on my left knee. I don’t know how many of you have had an MRI done but they can be loud, and therefore intimidating, suckers. To help ease their patient’s nerves the hospital offers headphones with your choice of music to listen for the duration of the test. I didn’t have my ipod with me so I settled for a local pop station and away we went.

At first the music was just fodder in my ear. I really wasn’t listening to it, it was just taking the edge off of the machine gun sound from the MRI machine. Then a love song came on, I can’t remember the song specifically but it had a nice melody and immediately set my mind adrift.

I started to picture a woman laying right where I was, listening to music. It’s a song she likes but it reminds her of her boyfriend, no, make that ex-boyfriend. They had just broken up for one of those classic romance novel misunderstandings, but of course, since it was my book it would have to be something more than just a misunderstanding. (I mean really, can’t people just talk to each other and just, I dunno, ask what the problem is instead of just assuming you know and getting all pissed off about it?)

Anyway, when the song is done she sighs a breath of relief until she hears the first few chords of the next song. It was the song he used to sing to her when they were first dating. The song transports her back to a time of young love, hopeful dreams and long summer nights. Her heart breaks again over the loss of that love, of that innocence.

Taking deep breaths in hopes of warding off the tears that have already begun to make their way down her cheeks, she tries to think over the song. She tries everything from counting as high as she can, to reciting the periodic table; anything to keep her mind off of his voice, his touch, his eyes. Oh, his eyes. She always loved his eyes. She’s never seen eyes like his, everyday a surprise. Sometimes they were dark blue, others they seemed almost green. Such beautiful eyes, ever changing like the man himself.

He was always surprising her, showing up at the school during her lunch hour with flowers and a picnic basket. Or when he dragged her out of the bed kicking and screaming at two in the morning and took her to the open field next to his house. In the cool, crisp night she could see the blankets he laid out for them and the thermos’ filled with hot chocolate sitting in the dewy grass. There was a meteor shower that night. He knew she loved looking at the stars but she had a tough day ahead of her and she didn’t think she should stay up late watching a meteor shower, especially since she’s seen them before.

She could still feel his hands cradling her face, could still see the look in his eyes when he said, “Live every day, love, and take each gift God gives you. Leave tomorrow’s problems for tomorrow.” When she joked that “tomorrow’s problems were in fact today’s problems” because it was 2 in the morning, he just laughed, scooped her up and carried her to the blanket giggling.

God she missed him.

The song that brought that memory was long over and was replaced with more songs that reminded her of him. It was then that her love sick mind cleared a little and realization set in. All of these songs had a significant place in her heart in regards to her boyfriend, er, ex-boyfriend.

She was about to signal to the tech about changing the channel when the machine stopped and the lights in the room came on. The bed started to slide out of the machine and she could sit up.

She turned to see her boyfriend standing next to the tech. The son of a bitch hijacked her music station and played a list of songs, their songs.

That’s where my daydream ended, mostly because my own test was done.

But I liked that little snippet. Sure it was corny and it was pretentious, but it was cute and I could work with it. Only when I got home and sat in front of my computer I had nothing. I tried different approaches and yet nothing. I remembering shrugging it off and not even caring because that’s where I’ve been as of late.

I’ve tried writing other genres and actually had some success with them. I’ve written some darker things, some lighter things, funny shorts, mystical drama flash fiction pieces and although it feels good to have written, the stories themselves feel like they’re missing something. And they are. Romance. I just can’t put it in.

There’s like a road block. A mental brick wall reinforced with titanium steel stopping me from breaking through to the romantic in me. She’s there, obviously. I mean, where else am I getting these little daydreams from? But she’s weakened. Only her voice, hoarse and tired from trying to break through the wall, can be heard, and barely.

I want to break through the wall, I need to get to her. It’s like I need to be my own knight in shining armor. But how? I never thought I would be in this predicament. I’ve known people who would like to write a particular genre but just can’t so they write something else, this isn’t that.

I know I can write romance, I’ve done it in the past. It’s just that life put me through the ringer last year and stole a lot of mystery and romance from me.

So, tell me friends, what does a romance writer do when she can’t write romance?

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8 Responses to “The Lost Romantic”

  1. Ashley Prince Says:

    I am no expert by any means, but what if you try writing some snippets of anti-romance? And then try writing a snippet or two in response that showcases romance.

  2. Karen DeLabar Says:

    Actually that isn’t a bad idea. I may go back over some of the shorts I wrote and see if I can put in some love. Hm, I’m quite curious and it’ll be a bit challenging which I like. Thanks for the idea, Ashley!

  3. Prudence MacLeod Says:

    Drinking might work, but then the keyboard gets blurry. SO, what gave you the magic snippet? Music, right? So, plug in the ear buds and daydream girl, dream big, no wait I didn’t mean… oh bugger, no I mean..

  4. Karen DeLabar Says:

    Pru, you’re absolutely right! I think my problem lies in the pressure I put on myself to write it out perfectly. When an idea hits that I’m in love with I want to write it exactly how it is in my head and it doesn’t work like that, well, very rarely for me. I need to learn just to put it down and then play with it later. I mean, work with it later. I mean… oh geez. ;)

  5. Quill Shiv Says:

    Karen, When I hit a roadblock, a switch genres. It is a challenge, but it keeps things fresh for me. But you Can WRITE romance. That snippet you have is great. UNTIL (IMO) the ex is in the lab tech room. If you get rid of that and write the story as the aftermath of a relationship, you have a different way into the romance story. Maybe that is your stumbling block with this particular tale?

    The ex was the illylic love, perhaps she needs to mourn, rebuild, and eventually find someone a little flawed. A Healthcliff, of sorts.

    Send me a msg or email whenever you need to…I’m all over this “getting back to it” stuff. :D

  6. Quill Shiv Says:

    *idyllic. I blame waking up at 3am.

  7. Sydney Aaliyah Says:

    More often then not I day dream my stories to conclusion, but when I sit down to write it out it never sounds as good as what I originally thought of. It is frustrating. I could stop daydreaming, but then what am supposed to do at work all day. Great story Karen. Thanks.

  8. Marianne G Petrino Says:

    Perhaps the block in the story was that the guy played the music. Maybe there was no physical music. Maybe the magnetism made the woman hear the soundtrack in her brain and helped open her memories about what was right in the relationship. Maybe, when the woman got out of the MRI she promised herself she would call him. Maybe the story is about her not him :) Romance arises not from fireworks but from simply being alive. The romance is already in the story.

    Wishing you a fast recovery :)

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