I would like to thank Rowan Speedwell for taking the time to talk to us about stuff and things. There is also a giveaway, so stay tuned for that.
One of the first things one notices about GRL is the excitement. The people who attend, readers and authors alike, are so passionate about the genre. They just are. “Passionate.” But what does that mean? What is passion? We think we know, but maybe it’s not that simple…
In one of my books (I think it was Finding Zach, maybe? I don’t remember, and that’s embarrassing), one character (David?) talks about passion, and how it comes from a word meaning “suffering.” Wiktionary gives this etymology:
Via French, from Latin passio (“suffering”), noun of action from perfect passive participle passus (“suffered”), from deponent verb patior (“I suffer”), from Proto-Indo-European *pe(i)- (“to hurt”), see also Old English feond (“devil, enemy”), Gothic faian, (“to blame”).
Which is kind of weird, if you think about it. We think of passion as a good thing—people are passionate about things, hobbies, sports, philosophies, other people. It’s part of being in love. It’s part of the whole human emotional experience. And yet its underlying meaning is to hurt.
In The Princess Bride, Westley (in the guise of the Dread Pirate Roberts) says “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” And that’s in one of the most romantic movies of all time, a movie about romance. Princess Buttercup is suffering because (she thinks) she has lost the love of her life—her passion has led her to pain, and grief, and suffering. (Westley’s has led him to being a pirate, which is much cooler, but he still suffers. Only in excellent clothing.)
Because that’s what happens when we feel. We leave ourselves vulnerable. We open our hearts to the possibility of pain. And when we feel deeply, when we’re passionate, the pain is only that much worse.
Think about your favorite books, the ones that hit you the hardest and left the deepest impression. I’ll bet they made you cry at least once. Because let’s face it, books with no conflict are boring. You want the heroes to hurt a little. You want them to be vulnerable. You want them to suffer. Because then the payoff is so much better. You have grown to love the characters, hurt with them, identify with them. Be passionate about them. So when they get their HEA, it means something.
And as writers, we know that feeling too. Even though we love them, we put our characters through hell. We torture them physically and emotionally. We throw roadblocks in their way. We make it difficult for them. Because the only way to happiness is through the pain. They need to embrace their passion, embrace their suffering, in order to earn their happy ending.
And that’s why, if you ask a writer what their favorite of their own books is—not what they think is their best book, or what their bestselling book is, but their emotional favorite, their baby—most of the time they’ll say it’s their first book. Because that first book is a labor of love. It’s not the book that’s written for money, or to meet a deadline, or because the fans are camped at your door, chanting “when, when, WHEN?” It’s the book that’s written because the writer wanted to write it. It’s the book that they needed to share. The one that they suffered over, the one that they bled over. The one that they were passionate about. The one they had to write.
Writers often say that they don’t write because they want to, they write because they have to. This is part of being passionate about something. You’re driven. You suffer if you do, and you suffer if you don’t. Ernest Hemingway said “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
People who collect things are passionate about the things they collect. Whether it’s baseball cards, porcelain figurines, books, model railroads, sex toys, whatever—all they need do is see something new and they have to have it. They’ll suffer if they don’t get it. They’ll lose sleep over it. They’ll forget to eat or maybe don’t eat on purpose to save money so they can buy the thing that they’re passionate about, because it hurts if they don’t have it. And when they get it, it’s worth the suffering.
The payoff is worth the pain. That’s the promise that passion offers. It’s a promise often broken, and then the real suffering starts, but humans, ever optimistic, believe the promise over and over again. We embrace the passion, because we know that the payoff is worth the pain. As readers, we have to have faith that it will happen that way. As writers, that’s a promise we have to keep, both for our readers and for ourselves.
And in the end, it’s the passion that matters. Because, otherwise, why bother?
About the Author
An unrepentant biblioholic, Rowan Speedwell spends half her time pretending to be a law librarian, half her time pretending to be a database manager, half her time pretending to be a fifteenth-century Aragonese noblewoman, half her time… wait a minute… hmm. Well, one thing she doesn’t pretend to be is good at math. She is good at pretending, though.
In her copious spare time (hah) she does needlework, calligraphy and illumination, and makes jewelry. She has a master’s degree in history from the University of Chicago, is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and lives in a Chicago suburb with the obligatory Writer’s Cat and way too many books.
Rowan Speedwell has kindly offered a backlist eBook to 1 lucky commenter.
Contest ends 18 May 2014 @ 11:59pm CST. Must be 18 or older to win. Void where prohibited.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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