Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Assisted Pursuit of Love

As I was speaking to Theresa on the phone while she was visiting Kate D., I realized there must be no better dating consultants than a pair of romance novelists (or, if you must, aspiring romance novelists, though I refuse to accept that designation).

After all, there are only a finite number of dating scenarios that crop up time and time again. It's the details that differentiate them. And we've examined them all, from the prosaic ("You're both too proud to admit you have feelings for each other" and "You're just not in the right place at the right time" ) to the extreme (somehow I doubt many of our friends have secret babies fathered by sheikhs, an inexplicably and perennially popular classic romance plot).

But we're especially good at reading the motives lurking in impassive male minds. His jaw clenched slightly and his eyelashes flickered while you were discussing your Friday night plans? Clearly he is overcome with jealousy and bound by honor not to confess his love to you. Just watch his hands. If he makes fists or grips the edge of a table until his knuckles turn white, you're golden.

Of course, I can't claim all powers of romantic-analyses for romance novelists alone. Even Theresa -- as medicinal a medical student as ever flipped the pages of a medical textbook with a scalpel -- had her time to shine as an inventor of romantic fiction (and I'm not just speaking about her senior year project on romance novels...sheesh, some colleges). I recall vividly several impassioned discussions we had in high school about a certain fellow I knew and his mixed signals. "I think he likes you," she said, "But he has a calling to the priesthood." When I informed her the fellow-in-question was a Protestant, she immediately followed with, "But maybe he believes in a celibate clergy."

While I can't promise feats of imagination on a par with that, I can stake a claim for Kate D. and my ability to slice to the heart (with medical precision!) of any romantic dilemma, and offer RWA-approved solutions. All free of charge.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Green Eyed and Bushy Tailed

My esteemed blog partner and my best friend (Theresa of the impossible-to-overpraise Knitting Underway) are currently enjoying ten Pacific Northwest days of knitting, in-depth romantic analysis, blog-maintenance tips (expect a vastly improved Damned Scribbling Women after this visit) and lots of novel-talk. And I'm...well, I'm feeling a little jealous. I want to be there, too!

I don't know if envy is an essential part of every writer's psyche, but it's certainly part of mine. Sometimes I think it spurs me on to work harder. I want what other writers have so much (namely, to be published) that I force myself to work even when I don't want to and would rather just watch Grey's Anatomy (though really, shouldn't the well-organized writer be able to do both?)

Then there are those times when I'm so jealous of another writer's talent, talent I know I'll never have, that I feel sick and sad. That's not good jealousy.

Living in New York refines your envy trigger to a whisper's touch. After all, most people outside this densely-packed city don't have the experience of walking past multi-million dollar properties on their way from their sad little fifth-floor walk-up one-bedroom converted on their way to the subway. Oh, and the townhouses look so pretty decorated for Christmas! They all have ivy and evergreen wound around the iron railings and wreaths on the doors and Christmas lights shining through the windows from huge, heigh-ceilinged rooms.

Ah well, have fun Kate D. and Theresa. Try not to miss me too much!