Writers Never Surrender When it comes to Love


Do you ever listen to a song like Dido’s White Flag and feel as though you want to sit down in a chair and sob out an over indulgence of emotion for the time you carried a torch for someone and felt like the pain of lost love would never, ever end?

When we get older and more jaded about the idea of going down with the ship of unrequited love, we forget what this experience was like. As a writer who had the nerve to create a character that loves and loses and hangs on, I had to dig down deep and remember that emotion. A song like White Flag can really aid in the process.

I’ll let you be the judge. Listen to the song and see if it doesn’t plunge you into at least a bit of nostalgia for the days of believing that hanging on forever could make a difference. I’ve given you a link to a You Tube video with lyrics. Give it a listen – I’ll be here when you get back.

Did you feel a bit weepy?

Popular culture often projects an image of love that is rarely what any of us have lived, but this image takes hold of our imagination for a reason. There is something about the idea of holding on to love no matter how hopeless the cause, of never putting up that white flag of surrender that appeals to us.

It’s really quite simple – we want to believe there is a man or woman out there who would go the distance for us. Never mind that we probably know ourselves to be incapable of returning the favour – it doesn’t change the want.

For example, a man like Professor Snape, in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books – he loved Lily Potter right up to the bitter end. He died to protect her son – the son she had with his most hated rival. I ask you – is his behaviour not the personification of true love?

Or maybe a woman like Angelique, the French heroine of Sergeanne Golan’s books. She rushed through at least a dozen thick historical romance novels, sleeping with and marrying other men, though she never stopped pining for and being in love with Joffrey de Pyrec – her first and only love. And true to the romantic ideal, he never stopped looking for her. This is the stuff great literary romances are made of.

Though James Bond is portrayed as the master of love affairs in a host of Hollywood movies, in Ian Fleming’s novels, Bond never got over the woman he lost.

Of course we probably don’t know anyone like Professor Snape, or Angelique, or even James Bond, for that matter. The men and women we know are fickle and who could blame them. No one wants to be alone and as you get older the concept of true love becomes somewhat bargained down. What is true might end up being what is comfortable and familiar, or convenient, or self-serving, or a host of other things. Don’t get me wrong – that certainly doesn’t mean it isn’t love, because in the end, love is a bargain of sorts. Yet part of us will always cling to the ideal – why else do we flop in a chair and feel our stomachs roll over when we listen to a song like White Flag?


9 comments on “Writers Never Surrender When it comes to Love

  1. Heather says:

    huge, beautiful, thoughtful post today…it will probably resonate with a lot of people…and it will likely resonate on a whole bunch of different levels, as well as,from a whole bunch of different perspectives…that makes the post “relevant to all”…a most interesting posst today Fran

  2. Roy McCarthy says:

    Very nicely observed Francis. And though I’m pretty ancient enough now to know that love is often little more than an illusion – or often a bargain as you say – it doesn’t stop me getting nostalgic and weepy over it.
    In return for your White Flag here’s Fairport’s White Dress.

    • This link worked 🙂 Beautifully haunting – thanks again. I really needed that three plus minutes of floating away on the idea of putting on that white dress so he’ll take me dancing tonight.

  3. Wayne Murphy says:

    Great post today Francis! It really made me think, and you really portrayed an honesty about what love is and what we imagine it to be.

    • Thanks so much and I hope you will stop by again. I do love to make people think . . . and feel and scream etc. We writers are like washing machines – wringing out and spinning you dry of emotion.

  4. Gwen says:

    I guess part of the experience of reading a novel is seeing life through a character’s eyes and wanting what he wants, even if it’s not true to life. Nobody wants to read a story that’s a dead-ringer for real life, because it would be boring! That’s probably what makes the fictional notion of love so appealing. But even in real life, “love” looks very different at the beginning of a relationship than it does 20 years on. I love the idea of unrequited love in fiction, and I get the sense in your novel that Liam has lived with it for some time. I’m looking forward to discovering if my hunch is correct, and if so, how it will play out.

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