And then my soul saw you and it kind of went,
"Oh, there you are. I've been looking for you."
Another confluence of ideas, and I find myself putting together some of my spare thoughts on romance as a child seriously plays at putting together blocks. In Anne-girl's blog conference I was asked by Rachel this simple, buckshot-loaded question:
How do you deal with physical attraction between two characters when writing romance?
Shoo wow, thanks, Rachel. I had only a paragraph or two in which to tackle her query, but in essence I said I keep it honest: don't dumb-down a fellow's intense desire for his lady, nor divest the girl of her jealous desire to be in her lord's presence. As with anyone, give them their privacy, but don't "romanticize" them or dilute the lovers' power by which the very worlds turn. If you do, no one will thank you for it - least of all the lovers.
And then Mirriam wrote It Takes Two To Tango, And All That, a good, down-to-earth post on how every couple, either in fiction or real life, is different. Not always wildly different, but different because they are all composed to separate people with separate personalities. And again, the two individuals that make up a couple will be different. As in tune as my husband and I are (no, seriously, it's quite uncanny and the cause of much fun), we are very different people. I am a firecracker, set off by the simplest nuisance, and a good-sized trouble in my life will hurl me into a sickness of despair, whereas Tim is a steady, amiable personality, a place where the Tenth Doctor and Skander Rime meet in the middle, full of fun and steadiness and vision and practicality. We're very different: but oh my word our souls are literally knit into this strange and single thing to the point that we need not even say a word to the other to know what the other is thinking: sometimes we know it, not by a look on the other's face, not even by a gesture, we just know because something in our own soul has moved. I don't spin this to make us sound fantastic: it is, as the saying goes, the gospel truth.
I know some people have trouble "showing" romance. But take it from a girl who knows: it's not all in the showing. It's not always in the conscious knowing. There is a language for which signs and words are poor tools, colours with which souls paint that are beyond the visible spectrum. There is a great concern for "writing love right," but what soul on this planet really knows what love is? Love is a spiritual counterpart to the idea of energy: it has no body, yet it moves and bends and binds and gives off light. You cannot put your finger on it: it is the force that moves your finger.
A marriage, where either partner cannot love or respect the other, that cannot be agreeable, to either party.
Take it from a girl who knows. A man and a woman may be "romantically" attached, but moreover they must be friends. You may say equals, and that would be true, but on the flopping tail-end of the long feminism debate you will not be understood when you say "equals." My "romantic pair" are not equals in that way, not in terms of upbringing, not always in terms of psychology, not always in terms of sheer intelligence. But they are friends. Back to back, shoulder to shoulder, soul to soul, by no spoken agreement that the naked ear could discern. Whatever of teasing, of tenderness, of desperation or anger that may pass between them, that curious energy - too bright and too fast for the eye to see - holds their souls together as God's hand holds the atom. Love is not a force you can always see, nor a force you can always feel, but even though we look up from our astronomy books and don't see the little dotted lines between the stars on the sky as we see them on the page, we're not disappointed: we know they are there.
Let the lovers be themselves, and do not shrink from their honesty. I won't say do not be afraid, for I have seen what the reckless, raging fury of love is wont to do. We call them mad, and perhaps they are - I dare swear God is mad, by some great sane madness. Perhaps we but think his madness after him, to reverently twist the quote of another astronomer...