For a few days, I tried writing bad dialogue long hand. Why bad dialogue? Because bad dialogue happens! I hate writing advice that demands that your dialogue be tight and breezy and all sorts of authentic but which does not also mention that bad conversations happen all the time.
Awkward conversations, non sequiturs, bad jokes, flattery that falls flat. That’s right! You know it, I know. What about bad pickup lines? There is not a woman—nuns wearing their habits in public included—that has not been subjected to a bad pickup line at least once in life.
In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, I’ve begun working on a piece. The working title is The Mistress and it explores some modern ideas of romance, with a relatively jaundiced eye (I admit it).
It is meant to be a short story, but I’ll let it run higher in the word count if it seems necessary to tell the story. Mostly it takes place, or at least comes to a head, at a bar. It draws from several years of stories that have been fermenting in my head, though I was not necessarily looking to do anything with the knowledge.
Would you like to read about the story of the man and the story that influenced the project? Visit the Temple of Doom (opens in separate tab) for details. It’s probably not at all what you expect…
I am not sure what triggered it last, the ideas that flow through this story; it may have been the news of a broken marriage that caught everyone by surprise. It may have been poetry long forgotten. It unleashed questions, mental images of things I have seen and heard, and curiosity.
Mostly it has fueled curiosity about love, sexuality, commitment, and the courting of these ideals in a digital age across a couple generations.
The goal is to have a completed story by Valentine’s Day – which is special to me but only because it was my original due date but I showed up 2 months early because apparently I yearned for legitimate holidays.
Besides, if you are going to bill a story as a powerful tale of betrayal, what better time to release it to the collective unconscious than on a fake holiday dedicated to phony up romance.
For the record, I truly believe that Valentine’s Day is just like Mother’s Day – those who have the subject of the “holiday” in their lives and honestly love do not need a Hallmark reminder, they cherish and honor that love every single day.
The Mistress is my Valentine to the world.