Returning to the Demos Oneiroi

I have to listen to my fans…

They told me that “The Moon Cried Blood” was a young adult fantasy no matter what I thought about it. They also told me that “Happiness and Other Diseases” was a romance. All of the horror, intrigue, sex and violence was secondary. They were just so in love with Flynn and Charlotte’s love. I wish I could love like that, but I’m not that brave.
welcome back

My characters are always happy to see me. It’s not that easy to disconnect myself from my day to day life and pour myself back into the Demos Oneiroi, or a depopulated San Francisco, or to put my own feelings to bed because I have to feed all of my emotions to Charlotte and Flynn for a while.

They can’t live, or breathe, or exist, without me.

I spent a year buried in the Demos Oneiroi, writing three novels in the span of nine months on a wave of disillusionment and inspiration while my relationship with Greg fell apart.

Real men are multidimensional and complicated. No matter how complex my characters are (and I’m told I give really good character) they’re still idealized versions of men, designed by a woman.

Real men stubbornly refuse to be ideal.
They have their own minds.

Romantic heroes are beautiful illusions

I love Flynn because I wrote him, and I wrote him role reversed: Charlotte doesn’t sublimate her will Flynn, the way I always do in love. She isn’t persuaded, because she already knows what she wants. He’s seduced and that involves a surrender of will (the way love very often does). He struggles with issues of identity: who is he separately? Not just in relation to her. He has trouble asserting himself. But he’s stronger than people seem to think he is.

This is Flynn asking after me

This is Flynn asking after me

Flynn knows that it is a gift: he is complicit in and consenting to surrender to his love for Charlotte. His obedience is a love offering: it’s NOT involuntary. It is very deliberately selected.

I resent that loss of identity in love. I’ve been consumed too many times, I refuse to give myself away so easily. I have value. Besides, I have free will. There is no love given that I can’t take away. No one can steal my war wounded heart, but as Nyx, Somnus, Phobetor, and that whoring old Zeus can tell you, I can still give it away whenever I chose.

Sumiko stubbornly refuses to be ideal.
Sumiko has her own mind.

There is a fine line between jade and self protection. Seal writes all of the love songs about that, or if not, Kate Bush, perhaps, or Robert Smith, or Martin Gore.

All of this leads to the following in relationships with men: either contention (I’m being for real and we’re butting heads because I’m independent) or feigned weakness and stupidity (I’m acting helpless and pretending I don’t know what I do know.)

But I’m not going out like that pretty little red head, and anyway, she’s absolutely right: you know nothing, Jon Snow. Foolish hearts can rule over wise minds, but that never turns out well for me.

My independence may mean more to me than being very good relationship material does right now. I’m kind of fed up. I want to do me.

I have no idea how to write that into a story, though. I mean, how to the willful love?

No rest for Tea Cake

In Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” Janie Crawford’s life is defined by her black womanhood and always in relation to other people: her grandmother, and a series of men she’s involved with.  One cannot argue that Janie was only in love once: she loved most of the men she was with, but only Tea Cake allowed her to be herself while in love.

That’s an important distinction for a woman: can I love a man, without losing myself?

Flynn must be trying to be funny or something

Flynn must be trying to be funny or something

Well, although she does love Tea Cake, it scandalizes the town.  It all ends tragically, but Janie can hold her head up high because no one can take away her perfected memory of the love she once had. Tea Cake has now been conscribed to her memory as the perfected and idealized hero of her imagination instead of the real man with all of his foibles.

Well, apparently, Ms. Hurston did in real life scandalize her peers by having an affair with a man twenty years her junior while in her middle forties – showing I suppose, that she was ahead of her time. Men have ever been allowed to do such a thing, but for a woman to, that’s absolutely scandalous. It’s a bit scandalous now, but she did it in the 1930s.

Of course, in real life, he didn’t die.

They broke up, and she went on to travel the world and write a series of novels.  The Harlem Renaissance was pretty male dominated. Her voice, with all its womanly nuisance and feminine concern with love, home, hearth, and the mystical was a threat to the patriarchy. Later she was falsely accused and scandalized.  She tried to recover, but never fully did. She became a journalist, and died in poverty in her late 60s. Novelist Alice Walker is responsible for a posthumous reemergence of the works of Hurston.

Janie Crawford and Tea Cake’s love will live forever, but Hurston’s love affair with her young man Albert Price only lasted seven months. People who write well about love aren’t any luckier in love than the rest of us, necessarily.

I’m still hopeful that eventually, I can find a way to have a successful career and succeed in real love, but to be honest: there aren’t any guarantees. All I can really do is be true to myself and hope that I’ll meet someone who will understand perfectly and put up with my shit. Like Hurston I seem to suffer from ambition, and having something to say.

I haven’t learned how to hold my ground without making a man feel diminished.

I can only hope that someday I will meet a man who is strong enough not to be intimidated by a hardheaded woman.

In the meantime, I’ve got to own the fact that I’m a very pragmatic romantic.

I know there’s no shortage of love in the world and it’s not going to all evaporate while I’m working on a novel or three.

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~ by Sumiko Saulson on September 4, 2015.

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