Love At A Higher Level
Is it possible to achieve a higher romantic love than the resigned complacency we see all around us? If so, can it be sustained for long? Would many people really want it? Sure, nonfiction literature is replete with books, courses, and seminars on how to achieve romantic or marital bliss. But few of us seem to achieve it, and fewer still ever sustain it. Worse yet is that many people seem disinterested or, worse yet, disheartened.
Far fewer are works of fiction that explore such higher love as literature for readers to savor and enjoy. Coinage of Commitment was written to explore this rarified territory. It attempts to go where few have dared to tread, testing the limits of what a couple can achieve, the altitude of orbit they might be able to soar to.
Don’t be misled. This is not an easy topic. Life imposes a lot of restraints on reaching the emotional altitude we are discussing. And it cannot be obtained for free. It requires thinking as well as feeling, planning as well as carefree fulfillment. It requires risk taking, and there are payments and sacrifices that have to be made. So would it be worth it? What would you be willing to give to obtain it? What if there was just a chance to obtain it? What then?
How does this particular romantic ambition affect story production? Well, for one thing, at least in my view, it means that the main characters need to take an intellectual as well as an emotional journey to attain the level they seek. They need this just to get prepared and be capable of what they want to experience emotionally. And this opens up all sorts of literary issues to explore. How do our characters come to want such an exalted level of fulfillment for themselves? What conditions in their lives produce a hunger for it? What do they do to nourish its development? Just how do they find their way? How are they different from their peers?
Deciding to write a novel featuring higher love made the manuscript harder to sell. This is not standard fare; it defines a new category, hence it was viewed with suspicion as a risky project. Many agents dismissed it out of hand and refused to read sample chapters. Others who did, refused to change their mindset, and misunderstood the work. One criticism I got was that the characters didn’t seem quite…typical. Duh? Of course they’re not typical. How could they be?
Another criticism was writing style. Coinage has plenty of plot movement, including some exciting heroics, but it features more reflection on the main characters’ feelings and their emotional evolution and turning points. Agents and editors who criticized this approach as unfashionable had nothing to offer as an alternate to describing characters loving at a higher level. Simply describing plot developments from an action standpoint won’t cut it for a work with this ambition.
I portray higher love as something feasible, but difficult to achieve, hence likely to be attained by very few. When Wayne and Nancy achieve it, they feel that they have no one to compare themselves with. I think that is the correct answer for our current culture and societal situation, but there is no data on this that I am aware of, hence it is difficult to rely on anything but your own experience. I heartily welcome reader views on this topic.