Money, Holidays, and My Issues with Valentine’s Day

posted in: Various Musings | 0

Originally posted on February 14, 2012

All right, I’m going to be proactive and explain my Twitter post tonight…I tweeted the following:

You’d think the kind of books I write, I’d be into Valentine’s. I’m not. People spend $$ on roses & candy just to validate their emotions.

What I’d wanted to say, but space didn’t permit it was this:

You’d think the kind of books I write, I’d be into Valentine’s Day, but I’m not. People spend money (on roses, candy, and cards) just to validate their emotions. I’m not into that.

We’ve already discussed that I don’t write romance, although many of my books have romantic themes. That said, I want to clarify what I meant tonight and why I said it.

First off, I’m not the most “romantic” person. I’m into connections and finding the right person, but it takes a lot more than candy or jewelry to make an impression on me. What you do means more to me than what you buy. And I realize that any time you want to show your significant other affection is a valid reason to be “romantic.”

But I also hate how it seems that we’re manipulated to buy things to show our affection. “Show her your love,” they tell us, by buying her diamonds, expensive chocolates, tennis bracelets, dinner at an exclusive restaurant, fine wine, roses. Why is it that love is equated with how much money you’ve spent? Again, it’s an outward sign (maybe) of inward feelings. To me, a gesture is worth more than something material.

I don’t know how much I’ve conveyed that in my novels. There’s no way to completely extricate your feelings as a writer, so I’m sure some of it has been easy for you to see as a reader. One scene that comes to mind is in Right Now, when Nicki opens the birthday present her ex-boyfriend Jesse gave her. I won’t say much for those of you who haven’t read it yet, but Jesse had purchased a birthday present for Nicki before they broke up. When he handed her the gift, he said, “Nicki, I got these for you a couple of weeks ago. Trust me. I can’t keep them. They’re for you. I can’t return them, and they’re nothing I can use….Please…just take it. No strings.” When she opens the present, it hurts Nicki to the core. Why? He didn’t drop a lot of money on the gift, and it wasn’t anything traditionally romantic, but it hurt Nicki, because what Jesse did get her was something meaningful:

Jesse had put a lot of thought into her gift. He knew Korn was her favorite band, but he’d bought a shirt he wanted to see her in, something that would bare her midriff. And the earrings? Who knew why he got those? She just knew it was a thoughtful gift, and he shouldn’t have given it to her.

I guess I’m getting back to a recurring theme…that I don’t write like a lot of other people. Most of my protagonists will not be impressed by fancy cars, expensive suits, and thousands of dollars’ worth of jewelry if it comes from a hollow place. Another case in point: A slick looking lawyer propositions Nicki in One More Time. Nicki is not impressed and when he hits on her, what does Nicki do? She lets the guy know about Jesse’s new tattoo, the one with her name on it. It’s in that same breath that she says she loves him. Jesse’s body modification says and means more to Nicki than some rich guy ready to drop lots of money on her.

Bottom line: you don’t need to spend money to prove (or validate) your feelings.

So…love me or hate me, there you go. You might not read about candlelit dinners in my books or the protagonist being showered in monetary gifts (I know—a fantasy for many; and Randi in Worst Mother was actually fortunate enough to have a couple of romantic dinners!) or trips to faraway places, but you will read about connections, gritty emotion, and love. Not necessarily romance, but definitely relationships. It feels real to me, and that’s where I want to be.

On that note, happy Valentine’s Day! And, as my gift to you, MADversary will be released this month. I hope you feel the love!

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