A few days ago I was reading an article about the 5 stages of relationships. This is how us romance authors like to roll in our spare time. I was supposed to be thinking about constructing fictional relationships but by the end of the article I was telling my uninterested loved ones, (who now can’t avoid my ramblings due to lockdown) about how writing a book is very similar to being in a relationship.
I’d like to say my lightbulb moment produced a thought-provoking discussion over the family dinner table that night but sadly all I got was a few grunts and a teenager muttering something under their breath.
So, here are my similarities:
The Honeymoon Phase.
This is the first stage of your new relationship. It’s complete euphoria. You’re falling in love with this new person in your life. Everything is perfect – from your first kiss to the bolts of electricity you feel when they put their arm around you. This person can’t do anything wrong, and you’re struggling to find a single flaw in them.
You are in love with your new story and your first creative outpouring. Everything is rosy and perfect. You can’t stop having sneaky writing sessions and each one leaves you breathless and tingly. You are struggling to find anything wrong with your story as your first draft is reading like a final fifth draft. The mere thought of your draft novel gets you going and there’s a spring in your step and twinkle in your eye.
The Uncertainty Stage.
The love glasses are off. You’ve found the toilet seat up one too many times, you’ve realised they recycle their jokes, they can’t make a decent cup of tea and you have opposing Netflix boxset tastes. Also you can’t forget that innocent comment they made about your uncle going for a fourth helping at the family buffet and eating up all the cold meats. Your partner, on the hand, has struggled with your watery casseroles, your car parking and your refusal to apologise for the flower pot you smashed when you reversed into their drive.
This is the phase where uncertainty sets in and you start to view your completed first draft with a critical lens. It is no longer sounding like a final fifth draft and you are starting to worry about it not reading like the amazing story in your head. Your first chapter is questionable, your heroine is a bit wooden and she doesn’t to seem to like your cast of older attractive male characters. Many have been created using your own 80’s film star fantasies.
The Comfortable Stage.
You have both got into your relationship groove. The sun is out in your relationship and those uncertainties have gone. Your relationship has some little niggles but that’s okay. This is the time for being able to recite your loved one’s preferred takeaway order, emailing them your Christmas gift list early and giggling at your matching outfit.
You have also settled into a novel writing groove. Your draft novel is blossoming despite a few little weaknesses like the miserable look on your heroine’s face. One day she will thank you for the lengths you have gone to for her. This is the time for tweeting about your draft novel with happy emojis, getting into a regular writing routine, not shouting at your laptop and feeling upbeat about your future together.
The Break Up Stage.
Not all relationships go through this stage but for those that do it can be a painful and challenging time for both parties. Even though you had strong feelings for each other there were things you couldn’t ignore; the milky cup of tea in the morning, the toilet seat issue, the conflicting boxset tastes and that comment about your much loved uncle’s buffet habits. You, on the other hand, are perfect and don’t need to change a thing.
Not all book writing relationships go through this stage but when it does it can also be upsetting and heart breaking. There were too many niggles. By the time you had finished editing your second draft there was barely anything left to work with. Even your own version of leather clad Harrison Ford couldn’t spark a reaction from your heroine. After a few angry tweets about your draft novel with a selection of devil emojis you decide you’ve done enough. The magic has gone.
The Making Up Stage.
It must be love because you can’t stay away from each other. To your surprise after a few days of silence you found yourself longing to hear one of your ex-partner’s recycled jokes, finally admitting to yourself your uncle does hog a family buffet and you are going to buy your ex-partner a new flower pot. Your other half has missed you. They are willing to eat your watery casseroles and want to know whether you want to do a karaoke duet.
It must be love because after shelving your novel you are back at the writing desk. To your surprise after a few days of no writing you couldn’t stop thinking about your draft novel, your heroine and her taste in fictional men. You’ve finally admitted to yourself that maybe she prefers someone her own age and someone who is right for her, not you. Before you know it you’ve created a handsome character who is from her generation and she’s come out of her shell. Rejoice – you are back in the arms of your draft novel.
All relationships change and evolve.
They also all require some give and take.
Have a fabulous day.