When I write about love, I try to avoid the romantic.
Love, for me, isn’t about romance.
That is reserved for reality shows like The Bachelor where gender stereotypes of how we should behave when we think we love someone are liberally screened. The red roses and candlelit dinner dates from the man, the coquettish looks by the woman, more roses and the copious flicking of hair.
Real love is clumsy, awkward and unpredictable.
It leaves you breathless, filled with longing and crazy.
I am talking about love on a panel at Writers in the Park at Centennial Park in Sydney on Sunday Sept 27 at 1pm.
I suspect my inclusion is because my book Losing February contains profanity in some of the sex scenes. Yet writing those brutal, cold and sometimes cruel sex scenes was easy. Using profane words was easy too.
Writing about love was way more difficult because I didn’t want it to be romantic.
I wanted the reader to feel the love, to be crushed by it.
When every cell in my body was bursting for a man I couldn’t be with, I sought to punish myself and grieve for my lost love by having meaningless, loveless sex with men. Lots of men.
When I read this poem by Lang Leav, I understood the depth of my grief.
Are you okay; because I don’t know how to live without you.
I know how wonderful that is and I know how much it hurts.
A writer friend had different thoughts about the poem.
Gillian: The poem is beautiful. I find that kind of love truly terrifying though. I would rather be alone – which is just as well.
Me: I find it the opposite. Life affirming and freeing.
Gillian: I wish I did. It’s such a responsibility being someone else’s everything. I don’t think I was made for that.
Isn’t that love’s true purpose? To take us out of our comfort zone beyond the boundaries of who we think we are.
To new places.
To intimate places where we see ourselves.
There is nothing in the world that changes us as much as love.
It is a universal cross-cultural transformation and when it happens we gain so much and at the same time have so much to lose.
Join the conversation, profane and/or loving at Writers in the Park, Sept 27. Full program here. The festival is free and you can bring your dog. How good is that.