It is the month of February. Time for red, white and pink. Hearts and candy. Roses and carnations. Cards with declarations of love. And let’s never forget jewelry! For romance writers, February 14th – Valentine’s Day – is the most holy day of the year, and St. Valentine is our revered patron saint.
But way back in the day, all was not strawberries and cream for our patron saint of lovers. In the year 269 A.D., the Roman Emperor Claudias issued an edict prohibiting the marriage of young Christian people. For violating that edict and performing marriages in secret, Valentine was sentenced to a three-part execution of a beating, stoning, and finally decapitation. The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to a woman that he signed, “from your Valentine.”
If Valentine were here today, he might say to young couples that there comes a time when you’re going to have to suffer. It’s not going to be easy to maintain your commitment. Don’t be surprised if the ‘gushing’ love that you have for someone changes to something less “gushing” but maybe much more mature. (for more on St. Valentine, see the CBN website)
So, as Valentine’s story illustrates, we writers of romance must make our young lovers work for their relationship. This struggle is not only a time-tested truism of life, but it is also a truism for story code. While our protagonists may not face anywhere near the ordeal of Valentine, they must suffer to win their happily-ever-after.
And consequentially, we as writers must also suffer for our craft. Carving out time from our busy schedules; sitting before the keyboard when our head is pounding, our eyes are watering, and our stomachs are heaving; and getting past that damn blank page – these are but a few of the obstacles we suffer through in the pursuit of our craft.
But like the martyrdom of Valentine, which eventually came to symbolize all that is good and wonderful about romantic love, so too can our persistent tip-tapping on the keyboard result in a timeless expression of love, and also a damn good read.
Lorinda Peake wrote her first ditty when she was ten on an English seashore while visiting her British grandmother. From then on, her family either acted in or were treated to plays, skits, or commercial spoofs. In school, she wrote poetry, fables and short stories.
Years later, she tossed down a particularly bad novel and thought, “I could do at least that well.” She’s been pursuing the elusive published novel ever since. Recently, she joined a group of fellow writers who decided to cajole, bully, encourage, and sometimes baby each other along towards the publishing goal by setting real and measurable writing objectives with “motivational” consequences for non-attainment.
Lorinda loves a good romance – all the more if it is wrapped in a great fantasy setting. She lives on the Texas Gulf Coast with her husband of 34 years.