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Life as a Romantic Comedy

March 8, 2015

Emma and Literary Girlfriend

Sometimes it takes years or decades to realize that something wasn’t normal.  Over 20 years ago, I dated a woman who wore big glasses and carried around a Jane Austen book just so people would think she was smart.  Back then, I thought it was cute, not weird.  This girlfriend did some other stuff that I knew was weird (like eating corn chips loudly at a public library), but at the time I never thought about writing about it.

Now when I think about it, I see this ex-girlfriend’s literary pretention as strange.  In a lot of ways, I’m a literary fraud too, but at least I’ve tried to read some of the books that I (used to) carry around.  It was this ex-girlfriend’s lack of trying that made it weird.  About a year ago, I finished writing “The Literary Girlfriend,”  my romantic comedy about this relationship.  Originally, the blog version was going to be about 10 episodes, and then I was going to flesh it out and turn it into an ebook.  By the time I was done a year later, the blog version was 60 episodes.  And changing it into an ebook didn’t work out (that’s a whole other issue), so now I’m stuck with a blog serial.

If I had known it was going to take me a whole year, I might never had started writing the damn thing.

I mean “damn” in a good way.

I guess anybody who has been in a weird relationship has a romantic comedy in them somewhere, and a lot of relationships are weird.  Not everybody has a war story in their experience, or an espionage story, or a murder mystery, but everybody has a romantic comedy.  All you need is either a bad or a weird relationship experience, and everybody has at least one of those.   Even now, my wife says our own relationship is weird.  It’s not a 50 Shades kind of weird, but she agrees with me that it’s weird.

My wife has agreed to let me publish a story about us, but she says I have to charge money for it, even if it’s just a little bit, so none of my current project will be on this blog.  That could be good or bad, and we’ll see how that turns out.  Since I have to be careful while writing about my current relationship, this project is taking a while.  I have more at stake than when I was writing about my former girlfriend.  But when it’s done, my new project is going to be great.  My wife’s in it.  It had better be great.

I was surprised when my wife agreed to let me write about us.  She didn’t read much of “The Literary Girlfriend” because she didn’t like the ex-girlfriend in the story.  My wife had never met her, but I didn’t blame her for not liking her.  Wives probably should dislike every ex-girlfriend a husband has.  If it’s not already a code, it should be.

It was easy to write about this former girlfriend because I could portray her however I wanted without fear of repercussions.  Writing about a current relationship, especially a spouse, is a bit more risky.  The situation I’m writing about with my wife and me is still kind of going on (mostly resolved), and if my wife doesn’t like the way she’s portrayed, I could regret writing this ebook.  My wife has a great sense of humor, and she says she trusts me and that she doesn’t need to approve anything, but that could be just like a wife/girlfriend saying she doesn’t want a present for Valentine’s Day.  It’s not good for a man to be wrong about something like that.

The relationship with my ex-girlfriend 20 years ago stressed me out a lot, but now I think the situations that made me anxious then are kind of humorous.  Time will do that to you.  Looking back, I should have enjoyed that whole relationship more.  In fact, that’s the one thing I kick myself over is that I didn’t enjoy it more.  But I’ve learned from that experience.  Now when I start to get stressed out, I just pretend that I’m 20 years in the future looking back finding humor in my current situations.  20 years from now, I don’t want to kick myself for not enjoying the parts of my life I should be enjoying right now.  The good news is that I don’t get as anxious as I used to get.  I guess that’s an unintended benefit of writing about a stressful part of my life as a romantic comedy.

But 20 years from now, I hope I’m not kicking myself for writing a romantic comedy about my wife and me.

*****

But enough about me!  What weird relationship could you turn into a comedy?  Have you ever dated somebody weird but you didn’t notice it at the time?  Or did you notice it but didn’t care?  Is it a good idea to write a comedy about a relationship while you’re still in it?  If not, what is the right waiting period?  Should I have my wife approve my romantic comedy about us before I publish it?

*****

Here it is!  Read “The Literary Girlfriend,”  the blog serial romantic comedy that made my wife dislike my ex-girlfriend even more!

31 Comments
  1. I just want to say – I’ve been reading your blog for a while and I think you’re pretty smart and an awesome writer. I like that you’re pretending to look back from twenty years in the future to find humor and enjoy life’s current moments. It’s how you have to do it.

    In regards to the weird relationships: I found a love note from my high school boyfriend a couple months ago which, at the time of receipt, I thought was sweet. When I reread it (with my adult eyes and brain) I realized he was a super creeper and possibly a borderline stalker. Of course all I thought was that a boy liked me. Heh. Youth.

    • You could probably write a humorous story out of that as long as the guy was only a borderline stalker. If he was a full-fledged all-out stalker, then that’s a different genre.

  2. Hahaha. I could write a whole series of dark comedy from high-school alone!

  3. I’ve written about my wife in very veiled ways before, although she always reads my blog, and she always sees right through it. I still think you should adapt the Literary Girlfriend into a novel and try to get an agent for it. That’s a great story. I look forward to the new one coming out.
    -David

    • Thanks. I like the idea of you writing about your wife in veiled ways and then your wife figuring it out. Maybe that’s what I should have tried. Oops. It’s too late now.

      • She knows me too well. Actually, maybe she’s just paranoid; sometimes when I write something, she thinks it’s about her. We should see how subtly we can write things, to slip by them.

  4. I remember that I couldn’t wait for the Literary Girlfriend installments to come out, so I obviously didn’t regret it being more than 10 episodes long.
    You should try to turn it into a novel, definitely.
    And you should definitely let your wife read your story about her. Sometimes people with normally great sense of humor don’t react too well when a joke is about them.

  5. Will you be posting about why turning The Literary Girlfriend into an ebook didn’t work out? I’d be intertested to hear about that.

    • The short version was that the changes I was making didn’t improve the story at all, and I didn’t think I should charge money for an ebook that wasn’t much different (or better) than what was on the blog. So I’m working on another story, and “The Literary Girlfriend” will stay here in its original form.

  6. When I was sophomore in high school, there was a guy who courted me till I got married. He used to start a day by serenading me by the flagpole so every passing student saw him. Some even dropped coins in front of him as a joke. He followed me around and on my way home (which was a walk of few kilometers) dressed like a ninja hiding behind banana trees. He once carried me all the way to the movies because I had a big sore on my foot and he had no money for the bus. He wrote a song for me with my name as a title and used it as his signature act to end his nightly gig in some pub. Every time he blurted out my name singing on the top of his lungs I could die in shame and misery. I don’t know where he is now.

    • Well, if he was dressing like a ninja in high school, he might be a real ninja now, and then you really wouldn’t know where he is. But if he was singing, then he probably never became a real ninja because I don’t think ninjas are supposed to sing.

      Either way, you could write one heck of a story (or poem) about that.

      • Come to think of it, based on the thing you said that some story like that can be an inspiration for writing, then I have endless source of it. Thanks for the idea.

  7. Reblogged this on themonkseal.

  8. High school. It’s where all the stories are.

  9. This is great. I’ve had an idea about a romantic comedy, but never thought of using the blog as a platform for something like that. I’m be interested in exploring…

    Don’t we all have stories…

  10. Thank you for this insight: “Now when I start to get stressed out, I just pretend that I’m 20 years in the future looking back finding humor in my current situations. 20 years from now, I don’t want to kick myself for not enjoying the parts of my life I should be enjoying right now.” What a wonderful worldview.

    • It only works when I think of doing it, though. Sometimes I get caught up in a situation and forget to remember to look back like it’s already happened 20 years ago. But when I remember to remember, it can actually help me to relax or not get so anxious/annoyed/frustrated.

  11. Love how you eloquently describe the change of introspective attitudes. Keep writing! Your writing will help map past to most recent perspectives, and should add insight into how your mindset evolved. Awesome post!

  12. Pretending you’re 20 years in the future is extraordinarily good advice. I think you just saved me several thousand dollars in therapist fees!
    I turn all my ex’s into weird characters I think! Although, I never did write about the rockabilly who clamped down on my mouth with his teeth because… that was how he kissed apparently…

  13. lunaodette permalink

    I really enjoy your blog, and may I note that wives (and girlfriends) never liked exes so… I understand her a lot. I loved how you see yourself 20 years from now in order to turn a stressful situation into a more humorous one. Love your blog, by the way 🙂

  14. In one of Philip Roth’s early books he describes mockingly a young woman who always is reading War and Peace as she sunbathes at the cabana club.
    As for writing about real people and events in my life, I strive to keep my family out of it. Roth, by the way is a sterling example of a writer who wrote directly about his life and managed to confuse the two worlds. I never thought it was a good idea. Then again, Roth did some amazing work. Good luck with yours!

  15. sereincontemplatif permalink

    Ah! Le romantisme… Les seins…

    By the way, if your not affraid to read something in french:

    https://litteratureetphilosophie.wordpress.com/

  16. If the new project ends up being as good as the ‘Literary Girlfriend’ you’ll have done quite well.

  17. Reblogged this on Web Stuck.

  18. Lisa Knitter permalink

    I didn’t date enough in high school to have relationship stories in 20 years. I have 2 semesters of college left, but I’m not sure I want to seek out someone just to have a story of That Person I Dated In College. There’s still time after college… right?

    • You’re right, it’s probably a bad idea to seek out somebody just to be able to write about it later. We might be better off just making it up. But there’s plenty of time after after college. My best (and most relevant) stories happened after college.

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