First came courage, then came guilt, and now love! Characters in love. Not in lust. When two characters are in lust, that’s easier to write in one sense because the expression of that lust is usually sex. The challenge with writing sex scenes is to write them with as little actual sex as possible. Describing sexual behavior can be unintentionally hilarious or terribly boring. One way to avoid both is to pick a point of view and stick to it. Never write a sex scene from omniscient third, describing every move and moan from the distance of that point of view. The scene will end up like the instructions to a mechanical process. I avoid writing sex scenes unless they either move the story forward or reveal character. Everything else tends to be gratuitous.
Anyway, back to love. I began thinking about this emotion for two reasons this week. First, the coverage of Michael Jackson’s death and his two marriages. Then, I began to think about the psychology of love, and that over and over, people who knew Jackson well talked about his loving and giving nature, his kindness. For someone of Jackson’s fame and wealth, how does he trust that the people who are saying they love him, truly love him? I believe his family members love him, his children also. But outside of that circle, I wondered how he knew when a person was genuine with him and not just after a piece of him.
That issue is a common one among public figures. I ran smack into it with Evan Quinn in Perceval because of his fame. Love would not come easy to him as a result. And the more I worked on the first draft, the more I realized that his fame was the least of the obstacles in the way of love for him. This is not something that’s easy to research, either. I rarely felt comfortable enough with a conductor to open up the topic of his private life, his love life. Over time, I learned from the people who worked with the conductors and from observation. There’s a huge myth that conductors are big skirt chasers, unfaithful and proud of it. This couldn’t be farther from the reality. Conductors are married, single, shy and introverted, extraverted, straight, gay, happy, tormented, devoted and true, serial cheaters, divorced, lonely…in short, conductors are no different from the general population. Their job is the only thing that sets them apart, and its demands.
That job can be an obstacle to a conductor’s love life. It’s a very demanding occupation that involves frequent travel and a single-minded focus. A friend has commented that anyone who wants a romantic relationship with a conductor needs to understand what he or she is getting into, i.e. he or she will never be the first priority, and the conductor’s life may very well be the one that is the most important in the relationship. I’ve thought that if a conductor doesn’t marry young, he or she may never marry. But there are always exceptions, and it depends on the conductor, what he or she wants out of life, profession, and family.
Characters in love, Evan Quinn in love. What I need to remember: to focus on the emotion in a scene, the conflicts it triggers within the characters and between them, and how they overcome them. In Perceval, Evan begins to grapple with what he wants out of life, his friendships, his music, and love. And it helps that he meets someone about whom he can’t stop thinking….