Accepting the Nicholas Sparks Challenge

Mike Licht, Flickr/Creative Commons
This past week I posted a pretty snarky review of The Notebook. The book, not the movie. I know the movie was a sleeper hit and has become a cult classic. I also know that most people say this is one of those cases where the movie was actually better than the book. Still, I am not a very sentimental or romantic person. My cold heart cannot take that amount of sap. I will not be watching the movie. I only read the book by kind-of accident, and once I realized the sappy romance I had gotten myself into, it turned out to be the horror show I couldn’t look away from. That, and I was stuck away from home with nothing else to read, which is another sin. I got what I deserved.

But…in the course of writing that review, that in-all-fairness thought did voice itself to me: “So, you criticize, but can you do it better?”
Actually, I think I can.
This is not least because that book was terrible. I mean, weak plot, characters introduced for no reason (hi, Gus, the stereotypical wise old black man friend), no character development, tropes and clichés freakin’ everywhere. The words “what we have is too beautiful to throw away,” in that exact order, appeared in that book. Puh-leeze.

There was an event, long ago in my life, that served as the catalyst for ongoing panic attacks and anxiety disorder that still plague me to this day. I have long thought that the best catharsis might be to write it out, but all the journaling in the world has not availed me much. But with the “I suppose you can do better?” mental chiding came the inspiration: that event may possibly be best memorialized and cauterized in the form of a sappy, tragic, heart-wrenching, cheesy romance. In one fell swoop, I can tell the world, get it out of my system, and turn the whole sick mess into what it might have been if the gods didn’t have a wicked sense of irony. I find it hysterically funny that the story I am aching to tell seems to best fit the genre I despise the most. Is there some deeper meaning to that, or is it just a cosmic joke?

So, I owe Nicholas Sparks a thank-you. Not an apology, because The Notebook was utter drivel and I’m standing firm on that, but that godawful book has inspired something in me, and inspiration is a wonderful thing. I realize I may be forced to change my blog banner to, “write something that’s really really acceptable,” and I’m okay with that. The point is, I’m inspired to do something. I love the feeling of being on fire again.

And…and…I was disappointed that this didn’t happen around National Novel Writing Month…but I’m just in time for Camp NaNoWriMo! It’s a sign from above! S’mores for everyone!

Of course, this entire blog post is basically a way to put off actually writing, because writing is hard. I’m not kidding myself; writing a cheesy romance is going to be a lot harder than it looks, like so many things are. But I think I can take it as well as I can dish it out. I spent yesterday brainstorming and outlining, and I think this might actually work.

Let the hokey writing commence!


OK, wait…if I’m not a sentimental sap then why, a few hours later, am I sitting here with a glass of wine, watching Sense and Sensibility? Oh yes, because…Colonel Brandon, kicking some Willoughby ass.


Author: Deborah Lee

I like trees, dreaming, magic, books, paper, floating, dreaming, rhinos, rocks, stargazing, wine, dragonflies, trains, and silence to hear the world breathe.

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