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Archive for January 16th, 2010

Lexi: I used to hate Valentine's Day
Saturday, January 16th, 2010

While I’m away, I let my friends come out to play. Welcome Lexi from Romance Writer by Night… ~DD

I’ve got a confession to make.

I used to hate Valentine’s Day.

That’s a horrible thing for a romance writer to admit, but it’s true. This whole season, stretching from the day after Christmas until Valentine’s Day, is the season of romance, right? Well, it’s not so easy to stay festive when you’re single. I’ve got a birthday right before Valentine’s Day, too, just to add that extra kick. It was a triple whammy: no midnight kiss, another year older and then another dateless Valentine’s Day! Yay, me! How could I think of romance when the whole world was a huge reminder that I was single?

I’ve come to realize, though, that hating Valentine’s Day and singledom in general is no way to go through life, especially as a not-yet-married romance writer. If ever there was a time to make lemonade from the proverbial lemons, it’s right now. So I’ve turned my attitude around, and I’ve discovered that the lemonade has been good for my writing, too. Here’s how.

1. Window Shopping for Heroes

Checking guys out. It’s one of the biggest perks of the single life. Not that women in relationships can’t check guys out, of course they can. No harm in looking, right? Especially if they’re looking for heroes to star in their stories. Hey, they can’t all look like the SO or the DH.

But there’s a certain shameless freedom that we single ladies can bring to the table. Even if all we do is look, the knowledge that we could do more than that—flirt, swap numbers, fly to Vegas for a wild weekend culminating in an Elvis-themed wedding—makes the whole project more exciting. So when we check guys out, we can do it with a dual purpose. That guy across the room might have the perfect look for our next story, or he might turn out to be our real-life leading man. Wouldn’t that be an awesome “how we met” story?

2. Being Positively Wishful

It’s not easy to think romantic thoughts when your one of your eight bags of groceries has exploded in the parking lot, leaving you alone, in the rain, to put everything back together so you can get it up all those stairs to your home. That’s not easy at all. (Don’t ask how I know.) But it does pay off. Before I learned to love Valentine’s Day, I’d have lots of colorful words to share with the parking lot and my groceries and my nonexistent boyfriend about how wonderful it was to be lugging two weeks’ worth of food all the way from the car to the front door. Now I’ve seen the light.

Today, when I’m faced with one of those single-girl challenges like leaping across the rainy parking lot without dropping any of my single-serving frozen foods, I ask myself this question: How would I rather have this work out? Then I let my imagination run with the idea.

Maybe a hot stranger hops out of his car with an umbrella. Maybe I chase a wayward can of corn down the sidewalk until it rolls onto the patio of his studio apartment. Maybe, while I’m huddled beneath my raincoat on his patio, rearranging my groceries, I catch a glimpse of him through the sliding glass door. Maybe he’s a good-looking artist, the lean, intense type, adding the finishing touches to a painting … of an equally lean, intense male model … who sees me on the patio. Now that’s nice, isn’t it? Even though, in reality, I haven’t left my pile of spilled groceries in the parking lot, far from my front door, I’ve got a nice story idea in my head and a smile on my face. That won’t put my stuff back in the bag or stop the rain, but that hey-it-could-happen feeling does make the heavy lifting more bearable.

3. Making the War Stories into Your Stories

Into every woman’s single life wanders the occasional Evil Ex-Boyfriend.

Okay, maybe “evil” isn’t the right word. After all, none of my exes has plotted world domination, or built a weather machine designed to melt the polar ice cap, or re-animated the dead. At least not that I’m aware of. But Evil Ex-Boyfriend has a certain ring to it that Amoral, Self-Absorbed Creep doesn’t.

Thoughts of the Evil Ex have a way of resurfacing in a single girl’s mind at this time of year. Well, that’s fine. Now those thoughts have a place to go: the WIP (Work-In-Progress). I used my memories—the despair, the blame, the shock, all that great stuff—to add detail to my heroine’s breakup with her own Evil Ex. The more I thought about it, the more detail I could weave in, from the icy prickle of anger to the smug expression on Mr. Evil’s face. My heroine’s Evil Ex became someone who felt real without becoming a copy of my real exes, and getting those feelings onto the page made me feel better about surviving that pain.

I’m not a huge believer in the New Year’s Resolution; I’ve got some long-term commitment issues, which I’m sure are totally unrelated to my current single status. But I am determined to take advantage of the single life, both the perks and the unhappy memories, as Valentine’s Day approaches. Singledom’s been pretty good to me, all things considered, and now it’s making me a better writer, too.

What’s not to love about that?