The Downfalls of Writing About Love
by Instructor Amanda Korman

You’re probably already familiar with the downfalls of writing about love.

  1. Someone might read it.
  2. And then that person will think the narrator is you.
  3. And then that person will think you do/say/crave what the narrator does/says/craves
  4. And then that person will think (know!) you are a freak
Also, worse:
  1. As part of the love plot, possibly there will need to be depictions of sex.
  2. You will have to tango with explicit anatomical terms, and/or their only conceivable alternatives: “[synonym for male rooster]”; “[the word that sometimes precedes ‘cat’ when referring to cats that you particularly like]”
  3. There’s nothing you can do about the word “nipples.”
Not to mention:
  1. Satisfaction and desire are political. You don’t want to write about politics!

There are lots of reasons not to write about love, but here’s at least one in favor of it: this world is still lacking in descriptions of how it really is to love someone. You know the cliches–feeling butterflies while weak in the knees, the kiss like fireworks as your heart skips a beat. These are phrases that, as the poet Lawrence Raab says of cliches, are “maybe right in general, maybe wrong in general, but certainly inadequate in particular.” And it is particularity that you are after. Writing calls you to make vivid the lived moment–fictional or not–in all its amplitude and specificity. In writing about love you can communicate with the reader how it was to be a person in a particular moment at a particular time feeling things that are so often otherwise private, fraught, and unspoken. Love needs language.

But also: Writing about love can be an opportunity to document something good about love. There are plenty of documents of human suffering, some of them written by you, but life, as you know it, is not unremitting pain. Every so often there is someone beside you who is so cute with that whorl of hair on the left tendon on the back of their neck–your hand just want to draw it! But you can’t draw. Others were endowed with the gift; not you. You’re a writer, so you’ll try to put it into words.

Interested in finding the right words to write about love in your characters’ lives? Consider registering for Writing about Love on June 17th from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.