Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The reasons for "Inevitable", part two

So, now we've dealt with the motivation of fame - or at least, a book in Waterstone's bearing my pen name - time to answer another of Jack Heffron's questions:

Are you exploring an issue that interests you?

Several, actually. Politics and romance and the love of reading and writing.

But mostly, Inevitable seeks to challenge that timeless assumption that it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. As an author, I am unconvinced: I've had no heartbreak to deal with in the last year, which leads me to agree with - oh dear, I think it might be Will Young: if I lose the highs, at least I'm spared the lows...

My character, however, draws a different conclusion: meeting Brad changes her priorities, redirects her life towards a greater adventure than "just" falling in love, towards significance. Because she's known him, in other words, she has been changed for good. And that may be enough to make the heartbreak worth it.

Significance is not only to be found in relationships; even happiness isn't. Shocking as it may sound even in our enlightened times, it is possible to have a fulfilled and meaningful life as a single woman. Jane Austen was born a few decades too early to fully conceive of it, though not to long for it; Henry James hinted at it with his own Catherine in Washington Square.

My Catherine would want you to know that there are many other happy endings than getting the guy, and that, actually, getting the guy may turn out to be anything but happy. Or, in fact, an ending.

Don't settle! She would want to tell you. Find your adventure! Maybe that man is an adventure, or maybe a partner in the adventure - on the other hand, maybe he's a distraction. Make sure you know which it is before you throw yourself in.

I don't know if I agree with her. But I have heard it said that if there is a book you want to read which doesn't exist, that is the one you should write. I long for novels which suggest, unlike otherwise excellent films like Up in the Air, that you don't necessarily die sad and alone, or happy and married. Those are not the only options, because a relationship is not the only path to fulfillment.

And that's why I want to tell Catherine's story. That, and the whole Waterstone's thing.

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