Sunday, February 14, 2016

Writing About Love by Eileen Obser

            In honor of Valentine’s Day I went on the computer, into my files, and to the bookshelves searching for quotes about love from writers much more famous than myself. I’ve published essays, short stories and poetry over the years and, in 2014, Oak Tree Press published Only You, a memoir about my teenage years and early, unhappy marriage, love and lack of love included. I’m working on another memoir right now, and a short novel and yes, love with its joys, frustrations and disappointments appear in both; from my real life experiences and my fictional viewpoint, but not with the intensity of memorable lines such as these:

            “When you love something it loves you back in whatever way it has to love.”

            - John Knowles, A Separate Peace

            “My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever.” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

            “You and I, it’s as though we have been taught to kiss in heaven and sent down to earth together, to see if we know what we were taught.”  Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago

            “You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.” – Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

            I am a tireless researcher, and because the subject of love is always intriguing, I have just amassed some 100 or more quotes that I hope to somehow put to use.

            On one website I read, “Though most of our favorite writers have had less than perfect love lives, there’s something to be said for their insight into the elusive and complex world of romance. Is it their ability to describe human nature so clearly that lends their observations an air of wisdom?”

            Good question. Last year I reread The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, and A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas. And right now, my bedtime reading includes One Hundred Names for Love by Diane Ackerman. All three books are powerful, well-written memoirs about love, marriage and loss. As writers we are constantly reading and learning from our fellow writers, both contemporary and classical, and what we learn affects our own writing, whether fiction or nonfiction. I tell my students, all adults and seniors, mostly memoir and personal essay writers, to read the greats; I hand out lists: Coming-of-Age Memoirs, found on Writers and Editors, which also features many other categories of memoirs that I can only hope that these new writers will read and absorb.

            Not all writers are so somber in writing about love, and quotes abound to prove this:

            “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” – Charles Schultz

            “The desire to get married is a basic and primal instinct in women. It’s followed by another primal instinct: the desire to be single again.” – Nora Ephron

            “We’re all a little weird, and life’s a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” – Dr. Seuss

            And finally, “Love is a serious mental disease.” – Plato

            I wish a Happy Valentine’s Day to my fellow OTP writers, and to your beloveds.
Eileen Obser -- see my website and find me on Facebook.


Amy Bennett said...

Happy Valentine's Day!

Stephen L. Brayton said...

February 14th. Valentine's Day for some. For me, just another Sunday. Oh well.