I am really good at falling in love. Before I was born, I fell in love with horses, and the condition has never abated. When I was seven, I fell in love with baking and that has been a lifelong joy too.
Somewhere between those two milestones, I fell in love with words and with reading. We had no TV until I was well into the school years. For my parents, this meant part of the bedtime ritual was reading a story to the four younger children. (The older three were probably reading to themselves.) The specific stories have faded, though I recall the sound of my father’s voice as he made great drama out of children’s stories.
By the time I was ten, I had fallen in love with the piano, a love that generalized to music and to some specific repertoire (Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Brubeck).
And then…. And then I found romance novels. All it took was The Wolf and the Dove, and I was gone.
I notice two characteristics about how I’m passionate. The first distinguishing feature when I am impassioned is that all other reality falls away. I’m in the zone—such as a confirmed endomorph (polite term for Utter Spud) is able to understand that term. For example, the taste of brownie batter made with melted chocolate and cocoa absorbs me. Is it dark enough? Does it need half a pinch of salt to anchor the flavor? Can the butter (do not use the m-word in my kitchen) shine through?
I can watch horses swish flies for longer than you can talk with your best friend on the phone while putting off the house chores.
I practiced the piano at least four hours a day for years, and that doesn’t include all the hours I spent messing around at the keyboard, listening to music, teaching piano, accompanying ballet classes, and earning a degree in music history.
And all of that time, in the kitchen, at the horse barn, in the practice studio, flew.
The second characteristic of me enthralled is that I have a sense that this is who I am. Whether anybody hears me play, I am a musician. Whether anybody reads my books, I am writer (though I would rather a lot of people were clamoring to read them). Those passions have become aspects of my identity, not just activities with which I fill time.
And here’s an insight I didn’t get until I started writing romance. The people I’ve fallen in love with were the ones who could appreciate me for my passions, not despite them. They delighted in my affection for words, my appreciation for music, my affinity for the horse and my occasional baking sprees. A fellow who supports me in my passions and allows me to support him in his (and of course, he must have a few) has swain potential. As for all of those other guys… I am too busy writing, baking, riding, or popping over to the UK on research trips to even notice such pale ciphers.
What about you? How do you reconcile the significant others and the personal passions? Uneasy balance, natural synergy, give and take?
To one of our commenters, I will give an ARC of my November release, “The Virtuoso,” a tale of passion and love.