Friday, October 09, 2009

Sensual Longing, Carnal Concupiscence, and Gorgeous Characters

So here I am, writing my Young Adult novel. But at the same time, am bravely attempting to examine my love of male beauty. I suspect there's something very sane -- and insane-- about this. Not to mention -- irreligious.

First, let me say it loud and plain: I love men. I love beautiful men. Very beautiful men.
Now there isn't anything too abnormal about liking cute guys, but I do wonder if it's not something I should've outgrown in my younger days. I'm thinking there's a bit of the Cinderella complex going on here, along with what St Paul calls "loving the creature more than the Creator."

Okay, being a romance writer ---well, one deals with perfect men. Ideal men. Or at least men who are ideal for the main character.

In our culture -- probably in all cultures-- the basic idea is that like loves like. Gorgeous man marries gorgeous girl. It's one of the basic rules of life and love. That's why so many love stories have gorgeous women as well as gorgeous men. I've read many stories by black women who take this a bit far. One friend of mine who was as dark-skinned as I am and who has brown eyes  ALWAYS created female characters with green eyes and who had some mysterious white parentage and the usual attending mulatto sensitivities. Which kinda freaked me out. I was struggling with my black self-loathing, my weird father issues, and she had simply bypassed all that in her life and decided to jump into the fictive dream unchallenged and unchallenging.

This makes me wonder...should I really challenge my own issues? In my stories, I glance and dance along the edges of my issues. I just can't allow the fictive dream to go on without tweaking it a bit and trying to search out some truth. My main characters are never really as sane and as perfect as they should be. The love story is never quite perfect. In Wind Follower, I made the main female character dark-skinned in a world where dark-skinned women were considered unmarriageable. I gave her the light-skinned Asian-Native American type husband...and I made them love each other deeply. Kinda. Well, do they really love each other equally? The French have a saying: "In love affairs, there is always one who kisses and one who turns the cheek." Loose translation: one person always loves more than the other. In Wind Follower, we really aren't sure of Satha's love for Loic. She is married and wealthy and loyal to him. That is all that matters in the long run. Yes, money and beauty.

So then, this sensual longing reared its head in the first pages of Onion. Main male character is mega-hot. I put it out there. Main female character is not. (Yes, I know...but I've got issues still with me from school days when I was beaten up and bullied by racist white kids and by black kids who thought I was too "white" because I didn't behave as a black girl "should." Then there was my half-sister who told me my father liked her more because she was light-skinned and her mother was east Indian. Hence my group dynamic issues and my beauty issues.) Ah me! The only folks who totally accepted this little eccentric black Christian girl -- and the only folks she dated back in the day-- were extremely gorgeous white bisexual or gay guys! Hence, Carole's issues!

I love this main character...and the romance writer in me wants my female character to get her man. But the nihilist in me is thinking: make the story a sad one -- make him die or maimed. (Hey, Jane Eyre only got Mr Rochester when he became disabled.) And another part of me is saying, be honest: These are kids. Kids are shallow. Make main male character shallow...which means he should not fall in love with main female character.

But I can't do that, can I? For one, I'm responsible to all the wounded little girls out there. Why can't they dream of getting a rich handsome guy? But for two, I'm responsible to myself. My heart wants the love story to be a wonderful one. Why the heck do I have to be realistic?

I want to explore this relationship. I want to explore our -- MY-- attitude toward beautiful men. I want to explore the longing -- the painful longing-- we have when we love something of beauty that may or may not return that love. Will see how it all ends. I know how I want it to end. But I also know stories have a mind of their own and that I don't always get what I want.

I've wanted to explore lust for a while. My own. My lust map versus my love map. Guys I want to sleep with as opposed to guys I fall in love with. (Aargh, shouldn't our lust map and our love map kinda overlap?) Not this novel alas, but at least I'm working on  honoring my eccentric friends who helped heal my soul. And am ridding myself from this sensual longing and this attachment to beautiful men. With God's help and prayer. -C


J. M. Butler said...

Ahh yes, beautiful, handsome men with a charismatic personality...somewhat devastating but quite necessary in a good romance novel it seems. I do think though that Denise should get him. Maybe not right away. After all, there is a healing process going on. :-) So far as him getting maimed....sure why not. :-D Although I'll have to read it more to give you my full opinion.

Great post, Carole. I really enjoyed it. And you're right...why must it be totally realistic. Keep up the great work, and keep exploring the issues. Love you!


CaroleMcDonnell said...

Love you sooo much, Jessica. What a blessing to me when you came into my life ..all those six years ago! -C

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