I have a dear friend I met in what they call the blogosphere. Her name is Anci and she’s a real sweetheart. She loves New Girl and cries at the thought of Minnie Dlamini’s wedding. I believe ice-cream and wine are her weaknesses, as are Hallmark movies and any cute romantic storyline. When she gets married, I imagine her in a white poufy dress with pink Tomys and her little fur-baby walking down the aisle with the rings. She is a hopeless, hopeless romantic.
She is everything I’m not.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a cynic. At this point in time, I am celebrating the blossoming of love all around me. It’s a beautiful thing when people fall in love, when they connect, and you witness the maturing of such love. It fills my heart with such joy when I see other people happy in each other’s company. I just never got romantic novels. Mills & Boons, Harlequin, Silhouette, Nicholas Sparks, I let them pass me by and I never looked back. They were all the same, the storyline was predictable, and frankly, there has to be more to books than that.
So when my dear friend challenged me to write a romantic story, I did it, because I thought I could do better. I thought I could write a story that even I would want to read. People, writing romantic stories is a lot! I suffered, I struggled, and I couldn’t even get into the story because the lead-up to the romance was so convoluted. I started out simple, and when I thought it was sounding cliché, I changed it up, added a new layer of irony and humour. So what was supposed to be a short sweet story ended up being a very long, complex story. With a few laughs, because I am funny.
I gave up trying not to sound cliché when I wrote this:
Is post-hangover clarity a thing? Right then, I was very clear on the fact that I wanted my best friend, maybe for the longest time, but never got to process my feelings because of all those other girls. I wanted to be the girl that would drive me away, and have him all to myself.
-My Love Story Draft
Right then, just like my character, I realised that the ending is always the same. You can try to change the beginning of the story, make it funny, dark, scary, silly, cute, it doesn’t matter; the ending is always the same. They will fall in love with each other and live happily ever after.
In romcoms, novels, whatever, we always know that the end is a happily ever after. And yet, we’re still there, watching, reading, taking it all in. For us, what matters is making the journey with the characters. Seeing their ups and downs, seeing their emotions flail all over the place, while we silently egg them on, knowing that eventually, we will reach the end of the story, with the words “… happily ever after.” The journey to the inevitable is what keeps us going back. Seeing what they experience to get to that place of “happily ever after” is what we want to know. The different paths to one destination are beautiful enough to experience over and over.
Life, on the other hand, is unpredictable, so maybe that’s why some like to escape into the comfort and predictability of romance novels. You meet him, you like him. Will the date go well? Will he be a sweet guy or a psychopath? Rustling in the avocado tree in the yard… is it an owl or the guy you thought was nice, who is actually a creepy stalker? Will it work out the first time, the second, the seventh, or the 34th? Life is unpredictable.
I was telling a fellow blogger and friend of mine about how I met my husband. One of the messages I typed out jumped at me, and I realised, a portion of my life has become a love story:
… There was a way he looked at me that caught me off guard, and made me realise… I’d be safe with this guy… I think I want to talk to him for the rest of my life.
–My love story which might become a novel.
Everything that happened in between only helped to make the story more exciting, and when the “happily ever after” came about, it was complete. There are many parts to a relationship, marriage, partnership, but sometimes, the simple “We fell in love and lived happily ever after”, is a book people want to read over and over.
The journey to love, for some, is a story that is being written daily, with many twists and turns, like my very convoluted romantic short(?) story. When that milestone of mutual love is achieved, you can look back and realise, that with all other stories, the ending was the same. We don’t know whether it’ll be one novel, a trilogy, a 16-part novel, but when we see “happily ever after” light up in our and our lover’s hearts, for that moment in time, we put down our imaginary pen and enjoy the end of the story.