Monday, March 3, 2008

Rules of Engagement

by Nina Wright

A funny thing happened on the way to writing this blog post. I got engaged . . . to be married. Here I was, all set to blog about “unexpected guest” characters—you know, those fictional folks you don’t see coming who nonetheless show up on the page and change everything—when my significant other slipped a ring on my finger. A very nice ring, I might add.

The Unexpected Guest Character post will have to wait because my new status as fiancée has filled my head with entirely different notions. And I’m not talking about wedding plans although The Event will certainly require some forethought. Not to mention the fact that we're contemplating a move to another part of the country. No, what I’m thinking about now is the way my attitudes toward love and lust manifest in what I write.

During the years when my previous marriage—a long one gradually destroyed by his preference for booze over employment—was in decline, the women in my fiction were either leaving their husbands or coping with the death of their husbands. That includes my first teen novel and my first Whiskey Mattimoe mystery. In the years following my divorce, I wrote about women falling into passionate love with thrilling but inappropriate men. Let's just say I enjoyed the research.

My ex insisted he never saw the divorce coming. Being drunk most of the time made it hard for him to keep up. He might have got a clue if he had read Whiskey on the Rocks or Homefree, or even considered the titles. My whimsical play Cherchez Dave Robicheaux offered a big tip: the heartsick protagonist leaves her husband for a fictional character. My protagonist was more desperate than I was.

Enough about what came before. What’s happening now is that I’m engaged to a tender, funny, generous man who puts family and friends first. Although more into sports than literature, he used to be a professional speechwriter; thus, he respects my work. I met my fiancé when I wasn't looking for love, yet I knew almost immediately from our ease with each other that he was Mr. Right. Never mind that he wasn't my “type,” and I'd never written about loving a man like him.

In the movie Definitely, Maybe the hero concludes that finding the right partner may be more a matter of when than whom. Put another way, you have to be ready. I opened my heart and recognized a fine man when I met him. The rest was easy. But if I'd met my guy a couple years earlier, I doubt we would have clicked. Timing, as they say, is everything. And I'll go a step further: anything I've ever tried to force has failed, be it a relationship, a storyline, or a laugh.

Fiction is the realm where I play with my fears and fantasies. But life is where I live them, and it offers more surprises than I can make up.

Your turn. Tell us a little about the relationships, romantic or otherwise, you've built on the page . . . if you dare!

P.S. Happy Birthday, Inkspot! This blog was conceived one year ago today. Jess Lourey gets credit for thinking of it, Joe Moore for building it, Keith Raffel for scheduling it, and the rest of us for contributing essays once a month.


Keith Raffel said...

What a lucky fellow! All the very best!

Nina Wright said...

Thank you, Keith.

I'll be sure to remind him he's lucky....

Mark Terry said...


Joe Moore said...

What Keith and Mark said times 100.

G.M. Malliet said...

Nina - What a lovely, lovely post to read...and just when I was feeling a tad down, too. You've made my day over here - proof that love does make the world go 'round, and corny sentiments like that.

Congratulations to both of you!!!

To answer your question, my characters do sometimes fall in love, seemingly out of nowhere, and are often surprised by it, as is their creator.

Anonymous said...

I'm so with you. Ten years with a man I finally left because he kept passing out with a lit cigarette between his fingers. I was scared he would burn the house down around us. Good on you for having the will to hang it up. And congrats on your engagement! May this be the one that brings you a lifetime of joy.

Felicia Donovan said...

Nina, many congratulations to you and wishing you a lifetime of happiness. Of course our experiences influence our writing - the good times and bad.

Happy 1st Birthday to InkSpot and many thanks to all who made it possible.

Mark Combes said...

I love weddings - other people's weddings in particular! And I love Birthday parties too! Not such a bad start to a Monday!

Jessica Lourey said...

Congratulations, Nina! He is a lucky man, and I love this line from your post:

"And I'll go a step further: anything I've ever tried to force has failed, be it a relationship, a storyline, or a laugh."

That is excellent life advice, and well-written.

Nina Wright said...

Thanks, Writer Friends, for the good wishes! I'm working away from my desk today, on someone else's computer; it gives me great pleasure to hear from you guys.

Special note to Anon: I appreciate what you've been through, believe me, and am grateful for your comment. If I hadn't found a certain 12-step group for the families and friends of alcoholics, I'm not at all sure I'd be alive today. That's no exaggeration.

Peace. --Nina

Julia Buckley said...

What terrific news, Nina! You deserve the best man, which it sounds like you have found. I'm so happy for you both!

Bill Cameron said...

Congratulations! :D

jbstanley said...

You win for the best blog ever! I've got a mammoth smile on my face after reading your news. Much happiness to you both and may your romantic plot continue forever!

Nina Wright said...

I just logged on again since Julia, Bill, and J.B. posted. Thank you!!!
I am blessed to be able to share this news and receive your kind wishes.