The First Date
Sarah was taken unawares. Her bosom started heaving, she became dangerously short of breath. He’s amazing, she thought. She asked her friends what they thought of this new writer — secretly, she was hoping they’d give him their unconditional blessing. But one of her friends, one she’d never really liked anyway, said he was a little lightweight for her taste. Sarah immediately jumped to the defence of her new beau: “Give him time. He’ll definitely grow on you.”
The writer meanwhile, Jim, was flattered by the attention from his new admirer. But as excited as he was, he had his concerns. Would this be a relationship that lasted? Or would she dump him at some point for a newer, younger, shinier model, somebody like that John Green guy?
Despite his worries, Jim found his heart all aflutter.
Are those Wedding Bells?
Time moved on and Sarah and Jim went through a couple of books together. Sarah began to think seriously about their relationship. She stopped reading other authors. “Jeffrey Deaver can’t give me what I need anymore,” she said. Jim was overwhelmed by her passion. “You’re the best reader I’ve ever had,” he said.
One thing led to another and they found themselves married.
The wedding was fantastic, a sparkling occasion. Both were very happy. Sarah loved the way Jim started dropping parts of their conversation into his books. Jim was so happy he began to write specifically for her.
They were sure to live happily ever after.
At this point it should be mentioned that one of the wedding guests did overhear a bridesmaid, admittedly a little drunk, confide in the best man: “It’ll never last. I saw her flicking through a Neil Gaiman last night.”
Jim began to sense that there was something wrong. He’d been doing his best to please Sarah. She’d said she liked his last book but was a little confused by the darker tone of the story, darker compared to his previous work. Jim felt bad not pleasing Sarah. So for his next novel, Jim wrote a lighter book, throwing in as many laughs as could find in his toolbox. Sarah said she liked it. Only “liked” it?
Jim began to entertain dark thoughts. He started to wonder whether they should have married at all. Damn it, he’d never wanted to write a comedy. Who respects writers of comedy novels?
And after all, there had been other readers pursuing him. Perhaps he should have dated that elegant professor who’d showed an interest in him. She’d have encouraged him to follow his muse, write deeper works that would have put him in line for the Pulitzer Prize.
But worse was to follow.
Caught her. Jim knew he shouldn’t have turned Sarah’s Kindle on, but he just couldn’t help himself.
She used to display the homepage on her device with pride, a page consisting entirely of his books. But this time, he wasn’t even on the first page. He could have shaken off a Dean Koontz or a Dan Brown. But she’d got into bed with David Mitchell, Philip Roth, and Donna Tartt. Did she think he wasn’t clever enough for her? The nerve!
He decided to confront her.
Sarah was distraught. She hadn’t meant to be unfaithful, she said. She’d been on Amazon one morning, looking for a plunger to clear the blocked sink, when she’d seen the cover for the The Goldfinch. It was just so pretty, so alluring. “It won’t happen again,” she said.
The Seven Book Itch
She was on page two hundred and forty-seven of his seventh novel. Sarah just wasn’t feeling the same sense of anticipation. Turning the page became a chore, where once it had been a moment of heart-stopping delight. She could see Jim’s faults all too clearly now — the overwrought metaphors, the abundant similes, plots that defied all logic.
She felt guilty, but things had changed.
The divorce was heart wrenching for both parties. Recriminations shot back and forth until they calmed down and came to terms with the fact that it was just not meant to be.
Six months later, both Jim and Sarah seem much happier now. Sarah has turned to Stephen King for comfort, a dark choice considering the trauma she’s endured. But apparently he provides her with the thrills she’s been missing for a while.
Jim is happy, too. He’s penning the novels he always wanted to write. And he’s now cavorting with a whole reading group from Cambridge. He’s never been happier.
The Moral of this Story
For readers and writers going through similar relationship problems, I can only say good luck. If you find things getting tough, just read or write your way through it. And trust that you will eventually find your perfect partner(s).
P.S. None of this actually happened. I know you didn’t think it did, but I had to insert this disclaimer just in case. All the characters are entirely fictional.
Mark Capell is the author of Café Insomniac; Edyl; Vows to Kill; and Run, Run, Run. He can be found at www.mark-capell.com.