Book Update: Writing love that cannot be

Various life events have been slowing down my writing and social network posts, but I somehow found a moment to write this here blog post. So, to make the best of the time I have before my mind insists I attend to one of the dozen other pressing matters I have to attend to, I’m going tell you about a scene in the novel I’m currently writing.

I don’t often write love stories, but when I do, I make them complicated. Writers have to speak from their own perspectives, after all, and I’ve never felt that love was a simple thing. It’s a messy affair that isn’t at all like the Disney tales made it out to be. I find myself drawn to stories of love that allllmost worked out, but tragically failed for some reason.

I’m writing such a story now. Two characters are slowly discovering feelings for each other, but circumstances keep them from having a real relationship. They’re two lonely people with an inexplicable attraction for one another, but nothing can come of it. The only thing that eases the pain is the promise of a brighter future when their work is done, and they can finally have the time to be vulnerable. Because that’s what love is about at its core: vulnerability. Chuck Palahniuk wrote, “The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open”, and that’s the problem my characters face. They can’t risk that vulnerability. Not now. Not until they finish saving the world.

Then, maybe, they can find time to love.

Travel stories: Singapore

I went to Singapore for the holidays. It was the first time I’d spent the Christmas season outside of the US, and my first time visiting the island city-state with the benevolent dictatorship disguised as a democracy. I wouldn’t say it was a life-changing trip, but it did give me some new perspective, and writers love perspective like a cat loves nip.

If there’s one thing that stood out to me most about Singapore it was this odd sense of juxtaposition. Duality. Contrast. Yin and Yang (which is appropriate given the country’s heavy Chinese influence).

Singapore has bountiful natural beauty, and yet so much of it is artificial. Fake smiles, fake neighborhoods, even fake trees in the Gardens by the Bay.

Singapore has a thriving tourist trade, with over 3 million visitors a year, but the place is often (though not always) rather unfriendly to strangers. And when there is friendliness, it feels belabored and…wrong. I felt this most strongly at the airport, where there were staff who actually checked in for me at what would be considered a “self-service” kiosk nearly everywhere else in the world. I suppose they were trying to make it feel convenient, but it ended up being awkward and kind of belittling.

The country prides itself on education, but so many of its best and brightest who have the means to study abroad, prefer to do so.

Singapore is clean, and free of graffiti and litter, but only through imposing harsh fines for everything from eating on the train to chewing gum (which is actually even illegal to possess in the country).

It’s a land of dichotomies; neither good nor bad, but many varying shades of gray. It’s a perfect little micro-nation to study the dynamics of people and nature. In many ways, I found inspiration there. My Ninth Order series of books takes place on a group of small islands. I was struggling to find the inspiration to finish the sequel, but now I think I have it.