The Ins and Outs of Romance

The typical formula for a romance novel is two people meet, fall in love, break up over some small or large misunderstanding, and magically find their way back to each other. My Irish story made it all the way to the breakup (a really juicy scene). And then I got stuck. I know how it ends, but those chapters in between? Not so much.

I tried my hand at gradual understanding and forgiveness—lots of tender words and apologies. But it didn’t feel quite right. And I didn’t know what was wrong. They have to forgive each other in order to move on, don’t they?

Then came the light bulb moment. That flash of realization. And it was a doozy. But before I get to that, let me give you a little background.

I’m a worrier. I worry about all kinds of things—Travel: will the hotel room be comfortable? Is there food I can eat? (I’m dairy- and gluten-free) Emails: I hope I didn’t say the wrong thing; did I say the wrong thing? And then there are the times when my husband doesn’t come home on time and my mind leaps to accidents and suddenly being alone and my heart races until I remember to breathe and calm.

But relationships? I’m older now and I’ve had all kinds of relationship experiences. Blind dates (good and bad), nice dates with no follow-up, short-term relationships that seemed promising, cheating partners, lying partners, and I’ve made plenty of my own mistakes with bad judgment, being too trusting, feeling desperate for love, etc. All this to say that I’m wiser, more patient, definitely more mellow, and much more compassionate. I don’t fly off the handle, throw things, have temper tantrums, or even do the silent treatment (I used to be really good at that). My heart wants to love—needs to love—so I do everything in my power to absolve, forgive, and work things out. I’ve also been happily married for 23 years.

Back to the romance. My protagonists are in their thirties, a time of life when feelings run strong and fresh and vibrant. And that’s where the light bulb moment came in. I was trying to write my heroine from my “learned from life” perspective. But having a heroine who’s patient and wise and absolutely forgiving doesn’t work. I need those crazy emotions where people throw tantrums and refuse to deal and stomp and throw and rage and cry. Pretty much the opposite of me. When I realized all that I had a good laugh.

I can feel the chapters coming. Inspiration is winging its way to me. And when it comes, what a blast it will be.