Most of you know that I am writing a novel. Or more accurately, that I have written a novel. I am also in the middle of my second novel while I try to get the first published, (anyone with connections, please speak up) and I have written several short stories lately. I really enjoy flash fiction and it’s been a fun outlet when I get stuck staring at the pages of my novel, not knowing where to go from here (wherever here happens to be).
So, during one of my forays into the flash fiction world, I was chatting with my sister online and commiserating about wordage for the ending paragraph of my short story. We started throwing out different phrasing ideas and it deteriorated into quite a bit of silliness as we suggested such fabulous phrases like, “I felt my desire to live fade with the setting sun” or “I drew my fingers slowly along my rugged jaw”. We both ended up laughing hysterically and it was so amusing that I decided I should write an alternate ending to my story wherein I included all of those horribly over the top, cliche romance novel phrases. Thus was born, DRAMATIC DEPARTURE. And here it is for your reading pleasure.
As she drove out of my life, I felt my desire to live fade with the setting sun. I watched as the tail lights of her car dimmed until they were only a spec on the horizon and a glint in my eye. I drew my fingers slowly across my rugged jaw as a tear fell from my eye to mar the pristine leather interior of my sweet ride and another slipped into the mass of my burly beard.
It was all so clear now. A sharp pain pierced my heart. It was a wound ten years in the making–a wound opened by the stark realization that letting her go had been the biggest mistake of my life.
Her smiling face fluttered across my vision and a shadow settled into my soul. She was lost to me. She had gone, not knowing the pain that she left in her wake, the gut wrenching sorrow that sat like a stone in my stomach.
A breeze ruffled my shaggy hair and I imagined her soft fingers running through my locks like the kiss of a sunset, a misty rain, a leaf fluttering in the wind.
My utter stupidity settled over me like a used horse blanket and my nose wrinkled in disgust. I had brought this upon myself. She would never know the hole she had left in my heart that rivaled the size of her truck.
Then, about a week ago, I was in the mood to amuse myself with writing another spoof, but I’m afraid, (or ecstatic, I’m not sure which,) that it turned out even more wonderfully awful than the first. Instead of just using cheesy phrasing, I had to pull out the big guns:
*The over use of exclamation points! It’s true! Exclamation points!
*The repetition, repetition I tell you, of things that are important, so very, very important.
*The self degradation that lowly, unworthy authors, such as myself, use to describe their perfectly attractive characters.
*The over-emphasis on rippling muscles, toned to perfection, and wavy hair that falls into mesmerizing eyes.
*The use of more than one simile to describe an ethereal feeling that makes one feel like a leaf skittering in the wind, a sunset over the dead sea, or a sea lion calling for its young. *The use of pet names, darlin’, multiple times in one sentence, darlin’.
And this is what I ended up with.
DRAMATIC DEPARTURE, Take II
He leaned in to kiss me and I felt my body moving to obey his every whim, but I fought it with every once of self preservation left to my perfect body. I pulled my face away, leaving his lips to catch only a bit of my cheek. I closed my eyes against the pain of that small gesture, against the agony that felt like a thorn to my soul, a rip tide to my heart, or a bolt of lightning to my life.
He backed away slowly, his wolf eyes prowling as he gazed at me. “I’ll love you forever, baby, but I have to go. You’ll always be my baby though. Won’t you, baby?”
The pain went on and on as his voice painted my soul like brush strokes on a blank canvas. He would always be the master painter in my life, the only artist who could touch my heart, even if I had to let him go.
He straightened to his full, glorious hight, displaying in all their glory his broad shoulders which tapered to a narrow waist. I wanted to weep for every rippling muscle that hid beneath his skin tight t-shirt.
“Just go,” I whispered in desperation, choking on a sob.
And he did. He did! He left me there in the wake of his departure to contemplate what had happened to my life. To agonize over the utter ruin I would no doubt find once he was gone forever. The sway of his hind end as he walked away only served to remind me of what I’d be missing out on. Such perfection! He was the supreme specimen of man! Without compare! But I had to let him go. I had to. Because he was too perfect. If he stayed then it would only be a matter of time until he realized just how unworthy I was. How plain, how uninteresting. He could never truly love me. And so I would cherish him in my heart and that would have to be enough.
As he disappeared into the setting sun, it became more than I could bear. I turned and fled into the house, trying to outrun my life like a racing stream, a stampeding bull or a great white shark. I burst through my bedroom door and threw my limp body across my bed, determined to sink into the abyss forever. My heart was broken, literally broken! And I would never truly be able to breathe again.
Now, in case any of you assumed from this post that I don’t like romance novels, let me be clear. I am an avid reader of romance. I am a writer of romance. I love it. However, there is a big difference between well-written romance and crappily written romance. Of course, that is true of any genre. I just have more experience with romance because that’s what I read. And it’s always a shame to read a book that has a decent plot and interesting characters only to cringe every time they stick those awful exclamation points in, reiterate for the 30th time the perfect physique of the male character, or have the female lament, once again, over how plain she is. I often feel like the cliche romance writers don’t give us readers the benefit of the doubt. They don’t think that we can pick up on subtlety, and so they spell it out, over and over. And then explain it again.
So, there’s a little glimpse into my writer psyche.