It is that time of year when I am asked to judge entries in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association annual writing contest. This year, I am judging entries in the Young Adult Fiction category, and not surprisingly, there are a number of young loves chronicled in these stories, all of which shared a similar problem – a problem, I might add, hardly limited to as-of-yet-unpublished novels: The Fantasy Love Interest. You have a novel filled with interesting, rounded people, and then along comes the Love Interest, whose only real flaw is that he or she is not yet paying full attention to our protagonist. The Love Interest reminds me of how someone eager to be in a relationship might describe a prospective mate after two dates that went reasonably well: sanitized to maintain the fantasy.
But this is how we are. We have two parts: the one desperate to be loved, and the other that simply loves. The part that wants to be loved doesn’t really love anything, it just wants attention so that it is certain it is worthy of love. The part that loves, however, loves life itself, and life is always a direction. When we love someone, we love their direction, not their attention.
I wasted many, many, many hours of my life craving this or that girl or woman’s attention. In these wasted hours, the objects of my desire were kept suspended in a cartoon world, beautiful blank slates who might one day turn my way, and in their eyes I would come alive as I finally saw myself. And then I met my wife, and there I was and always had been – not in her eyes, but looking out from within, chasing the direction that interested me most.
If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.