Anyway...I have a bone to pick today. A few days ago I watched 500 Days of Summer, and I really liked it! It was funny and a little sad and featured a topic not as often tackled in "romantic" films—the wonderful relationship that doesn't last forever.
This movie also happens to be one of my sister's favorites. I asked her why, and she said, "Because it's realistic. It's not about fluffy true love."
To which I replied, "Are you saying true love isn't realistic?"
"No...but this is how it is. People break up all the time, and I like that this movie doesn't sugar coat it."
(Note: That wasn't the exact conversation, but it was along those lines.)
This made me kind of sad on a few levels. First, because my sister is already jaded about finding love at the ripe old age of 21. Second, because love seems to have become the stuff of fairy tales, as impossible to find as unicorns and pots of gold.
And this is not the first time I've heard this. I hear this off kilter argument all the time when people start ragging on paranormal romance or praising contemporary fiction.
"Oh, that relationship is so unrealistic! That never happens. People don't just take one look at each other and end up getting together. People don't do that undying dramatic love for all of forever."
"This relationship is realistic—they break up and hate each other forever and move on with their lives. The girl loves the guy, but he never notices and that's how it is. Betrayal. Divorce. Boredom. Fights. These are real."
Isn't it kind of sad that we are willing to accept the crap as reality but not love? Sheesh. Is that what we think real relationships are? No wonder I know so many girls my sister's age who've already given up on love.
I'm not saying this stuff doesn't happen. It does—too often. But just because crap happens doesn't mean that the good stuff is impossible. It doesn't mean it's a fairy tale. Love is real. Maybe not as ideal as it is sometimes portrayed, but it is so very real. I live it everyday, and sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's hard, and sometimes it's every bit the stuff of fairy tales and happily ever after.
Relationships have so many faces. Some are bumpy. Some are full of scars. Some are effortless and unwrinkled. Some age poorly, while others get better. Some are ugly. Some are beautiful.
But all of them are real.
This applies to many things in fiction, not just love. "Real teens swear. Real teens have sex. Real best friends have big fights. Real parents do this. Real teachers say that. Real kids don't stand up to bullies. Insert whatever else you want here."
But you know what? It's just not true. People are all over the gammut. Who are we to say that one is more real than the other? Or are we actually saying one is more like our life's experiences than another?
It also applies to other life stuff. Most of you know I've been through a lot of crap on the writing front. I've had quite the "realistic" writing journey, filled with rejections and more rejections and countless revisions. I've heard more than once that I'm an example, an inspiration, because of this. To which I'm not sure how to reply, because I certainly don't feel inspirational, for one, but also because I wasn't planning to make this my path. Hell, could I have the fairy tale, please?
Because the "fairy tale" publishing stories are real, too. I've seen them happen. Oh sure, there's a lot of behind-the-scenes hardship in those, but they are as real as the I've-been-through-hell stories. Sometimes I'm wildly jealous things didn't fall into place for me like that (Not with writing at least—I totally had the fairy tale relationship, still do.), but then I remember that the fairy tale is still out there. Just because I haven't found it yet, doesn't mean I won't. And it certainly doesn't mean it's impossible to find.
If I accept the bad as reality, I must also accept the good as reality.