While I was working on my first book (Magick Like Music, now available on Amazon Kindle! http://www.amazon.com/Magick-Like-Music-C-McGrue-ebook/dp/B00KXJ660Q/), I came to the dilemma of whether or not I wanted to write an HEA. When it comes to romance I want to write reality. I don’t want someone to pick up my books, read them, and then think that love is something it isn’t.
So many romance books out there give a skewed, problematic version of love. Such tropes as the heroine being kidnapped by the hero, and following in love. Or the obsessive hero that pushes out all friends from the heroine’s life. These aspects of romance novels tell us that what we want in a male partner is someone who takes us away from our friends and family. They tell us we want someone who is so possessive of us they can’t stand it when we are around other men or even other people. I find that somewhat scary.
We also have the HEA trope where love saves the day and everything is alright. The hero and the heroine have huge relationship ruining fights (because we love drama and tension), but they realize that they love each other too much to stay away. So one of them swallows their pride and just lets go. Often times this is the woman. Often times she lets go on really important matters, which become trivialized because the HEA is more important. Or worse yet, nothing is resolved and everyone just ignores the pink elephant sitting in front of the Xbox trying to play Geometry Wars. The idea that if we just let go of important issues, or ignore them, everything will be okay is also scary to me.
I find a lot of things frightening about the romance genre. One might wonder why I got into writing it. Mostly, I’m a sap. I also enjoy writing sexy times. Hence why my books are very much filed under #EroticRomance and #Erotica. However, I also think that we can tell romantic stories with a little touch of reality to them. I think we can write stories that don’t tell people we want broken, unhealthy relationships.
So then comes my dilemma. When I am writing, do I write Happily Ever Afters? In reality we don’t always get a HEA. Sometimes our partner dies. Sometimes we die. Sometimes two people just don’t work. Sometimes one fight is just one too many. Our insecurities, our anger, our needs get in the way. Sometimes we get so blinded by ourselves we don’t see our lover and before we know it they are gone. And there goes our Happily Ever After (at least with that person; the good thing about being a live is that there are a lot of people in the world and you can find another partner).
Writing that non-Happily Ever After is so sad, though. Have you ever cried when reading a book? Now imagine you’re the one writing the book. These characters live in your imagination and the world you created for them. Think about how heartbreaking it is to then write out the inevitable implosion of their relationship. It is hard to do.
In the end it is something I will likely continue to struggle with as I write. On the one hand I don’t want to tell people ‘love will always win, and everything will always work out’ because that simply isn’t true. Love doesn’t always win. It doesn’t always work out. Real love takes work and time, and sometimes even that isn’t enough. On the other hand, however, I have the emotional roller coaster of oh, god, I just don’t want to write something so sad.
That’s my struggle with writing. What’s yours?
P.S. So, does Magick Like Music have a HEA? Read it and find out!