The Tribulations of HEA
by Our Guest on May 28th, 2009

If I didn’t believe in HEA, I couldn’t be a romance writer. It’s as simple as that. I’ve heard people say that fiction writers “tell lies for a living.” Wrong! If an author is telling lies, i.e., writing things she doesn’t believe herself, her readers will know – and stop reading. A writer has to tell the whole, honest truth, no matter how hard or how painful.

And sometimes getting those words on the page can be painful. It’s hard work and labor intensive, but we do it because we’re compelled to, because we love it.

A relationship is a lot like writing a book. In the beginning, you’re filled with energy and enthusiasm. You can’t wait to stop whatever else you’re doing and run to that keyboard. The words flow from your fingertips. The chemistry between the characters sizzles, their dialogue sparkles. It’s all wonderfully satisfying. Exhilarating. Like the adrenaline rush of new love.

Ah, but what about that saggy middle, or hitting a snag you can’t write your way out of because the plot just isn’t working? You might find that your characters stop talking, and worse, they suddenly don’t even want to have sex anymore. Yikes! What does this mean?

It means the honeymoon is over. It means you have to stop, analyze what’s gone so terribly wrong and rework, re plot, rebuild. Some days, you just want to throw up your hands and quit. “It’s too hard!” you lament. “Can’t I just start over?”

But then you wonder, how committed am I to this story? How much do I love these characters? How much a part of me are they? Depending on the answers, you’ll either toss the manuscript into the circular file, or roll up your sleeves, sit your butt back in the chair, and give everything you’re worth – your heart and soul – to make it work. Because you are committed. You do love this story and you cannot let go of these characters.

That’s how we as writers progress from opening hook to HEA. And in life, that’s how people progress from that first “I love you” to their own particular HEA, whatever that may be. It’s not easy, it’s not always pretty, and some days you want to throw up your hands and scream, I quit! That’s when you have to take a breath and ask yourself the above questions (insert “relationship” in place of “story” and “spouse/significant other” in place of “character”). So yes, I believe in HEA. Oh, not the magical, “bells are ringing and birds are singing” version – well, sometimes – but mostly the “we’re in this together and are committed to making it work because damn it all, we really do love each other” version.


What do you think? Is love worth working for – fighting for? Or do you believe that when the happy bells stop ringing, it’s a sign that it’s time to move on?

7 comments to “The Tribulations of HEA”

  1. 1

    When the happy bells stop ringing, I think it’s worth working and fighting for as long as the other person feels the same way and is willing to do half the work. It won’t work if it’s only one-sided.

  2. 2

    I totally agree with Jacqueline. It has to be a team effort, with both parties equally committed, or the end results can be really horrific. And even when the “only” result is a break-up, the ripple effect (through children, family, friends, emotional and physical health, financial well-being, etc.) can be equally (or even more) devastating. It may sound like I’m saying it’s not worth it, but it is. And it is worth fighting for or why’d you bother with it in the first place? As the ever-wise Yoda said “Do or do not, there is no try.” :smile:

  3. 3

    Jacqueline and Zita, absolutely it’s got to be a duel effort! That’s a given, or you might as well be beating your head against the wall. But people should go into a relationship expecting ups and downs, and be willing to work through the down times. Expecting smooth sailing all the way is pretty much asking to be tossed overboard.

  4. 4

    Me and my book are in couples therapy right now. There’s a lot of “you always use superlatives” and “my mother told me to go into the sciences.” Ugly stuff.

    We’ll probably work it out. If not, there are lot more ideas where that one came from.

    Just saying.

  5. 5

    I have a heroine who hasn’t put her gun away for three chapters and half the time it’s been aimed at the hero.

    I can see this pair is going to be work.

  6. 6

    I believe and HEA is worthy fighting for, even if it takes a lot of work.

    Sometimes the harder part is letting go when it’s not working. You want it to work so bad that you keep trying…past the point of when you should walk away.

    Relationships, be they between real people or those you create in a book, are never easy. Easy is for sissies. :wink:

  7. 7

    Annette McCleave – Easy is for sissies.

    Okay, that’s got to be my favourite quote today. :grin:

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