So I love this movie…
It’s not a romance. But I’m going to quote it here anyway, because…well…
“Why do I stand up here? I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way. You see the world looks very different up here … Just when you think you know something, you have to look at it in another way. Even though it may seem silly or wrong, you must try.”
– Robin Williams as John Keating, Dead Poets Society (1989)
Now that I’ve quoted this movie, I’ll just throw in this POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT. I’m going to talk about my book, The Same Story, and the love songs I used as inspiration for it, and even mentioned them IN it, and there might be some plot revelation coming up. So if you haven’t read The Same Story, and don’t want any spoilers…probably stop reading here.
I had a reader ask me (paraphrasing her question here), ‘Where did the idea of the young couple and the older couple and the intertwined story come from?’
First…Ralph and Sally are actually pretty heavily influenced by a real life couple I know. I think the wife of this couple is vaguely aware I have a blog, but I doubt she reads this, and I more seriously doubt she’s read the book, but if she DID read the book, she may even recognize herself and her husband as the inspiration for this couple. I think their love story is inspiring. (Don’t worry…it’s not an exact match. I don’t write real people I know. Ever. But…there are similarities.)
Next…Ellen and Harry I wrote because I rarely see a positive romance develop between people over 50 in fiction.
But the real reason I wrote the story the way I did was because of this old adage…
I wanted to flip the script on what’s expected with two young people in love and two more ‘mature’ people in love. I wanted to stand on the desk and look at ‘Something Old. Something New,’ in a different way.
So I wrote the young couple with this drawn out, slow burn, relationship. Ralph and Sally have known each other for 15 years. They’ve put in a lot of time, and effort, and emotional closeness. They know each other consummately well, but despite all of that time, and security, they are still insecure and hesitant with each other. They’re cautious. They’re afraid. I read a lot of fiction that associates youth with boldness and bravery. But Ralph and Sally aren’t. They’re timid and shy and anxious and withholding. They have the OLD (read: established, comfortable, expected) relationship. They have the OLD (read: careful, reserved, judicious) behavior when it comes to love. They’re the Something Old in the story. They’ve known and loved each other for a long time before they actually admit this to each other. And although they’re young, they choose a wedding song recorded before they were born, Bryan Adams’ Heaven. (But the lyrics fit. And the choice of Something Old fits THEM.)
And I wrote the ‘older’ couple as this bright, shiny, revolutionary love. They connect immediately. They arguably rush in. THEY are bold and brave and all about the ‘now.’ They elope, which is a fictionally portrayed decision I’ve only seen YOUNG people make. They have the NEW (read: brash, confident, speedy, spontaneous) relationship. They have the NEW (read: enthusiastic, optimistic, fun) behavior when it comes to love. They’re the Something New in the story. And they choose, on the fly, in the moment, a modern love song for their first dance…a first dance they didn’t even plan to have, John Legend’s Love Me Now. (Of course they picked this one. Damn, those lyrics, right? The choice of Something New fits THEM.)
And the intertwined story idea came from my weird brain that sees connection everywhere. I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of The Butterfly Effect. If just one little thing changed, how different does that make everything else? Who knows if that brief exchange you had in that elevator once changed the course of your entire life for sure. Who knows if that stranger that smiled at you at the bus stop was what sparked you to tell someone you love them…apply for that dream job…stand up for yourself against adversity that day. Who knows what’s going on behind the scenes that’s leading us to say ‘fate’ and ‘luck’ and ‘destiny?’ Maybe it’s not exclusively fate. Maybe destiny gets the occasional assist. Maybe you got dealt a hand and you played it the way you chose, but the dealer was previously at a Meddler’s Meeting. So I wrote a story about seeing behind the curtain to the chance encounters and chain reactions and little nudges and unrecognized help that probably really go into everybody’s Happily Ever After. These two couples were each other’s supporting casts in their respective love stories. They really were living The Same Story.