What is Romance?
By Jeff Salter
For our blog’s inaugural week, we have a moment to introduce ourselves. I won’t repeat, here, what I’ve already posted on the ‘bio’ portion of this site (see the ‘About us’ tab on the home page). But I guess it might be appropriate to hint at WHY I’m here with these four talented writing foxes.
I dabbled with writing as a child, but I knew as early as 8th grade that writing was a ‘fire’ inside me. As a 10th grader, I experienced an explosion of creative output which convinced me that I could be nothing less than a professional writer. LOL. Alas, life got in the way. I married, had kids, brought home salaries, and ground-out a profession or two (including several years in Journalism), but none of that had the exhilaration I’ve felt when writing creatively — mostly poetry. [Probably over 900 poems by now … including about 120 which have been published.]
Along the way, I’ve spent over four decades being certain that I was destined to be the 21st Century’s replacement for Robert Frost. After all, nobody else had risen to shoulder that load. Ha.
It was only after taking an early retirement from librarianship and relocating from LA to KY (so my wife could be near her aging and ailing folks), that my life-long writing ‘fire’ switched from poetic flames … to novels. Who wouldda thunk it? Certainly not me. I used to denigrate long-winded fiction writers (behind their backs, of course) by saying, proudly: “What a novel can say in 400 pages and a short story can say in 40 pages … I can say in 40 LINES of fine poetry!”
Well, that ill-informed bombast quickly evaporated once I began trying to contain the ‘flames’ of the stories inside my brain in late 2006. In these four-and-a-half years: six complete novel manuscripts, numerous other ‘starts’, and dozens more story concepts. Can I keep up such a pace? Very doubtful. Nor should I try … or fret about it. My second novel proved the first one was not a fluke. My third proved I could tell a really good story with lively characters.
So why am I HERE?
In the past 16 months alone, I’ve written three of those six complete manuscripts. Can you guess what they are? Well, as best I can assess them – with input from my readers – two are ‘screwball’ romantic comedies and one is ‘regular’ romantic comedy (or possibly comedic romance … not certain).
Well, I’ve already blown my budget of words for this column on my ‘brief’ intro. So let me test my former braggadocio about how well my poetry condenses vast notions into just a few lines.
Here’s a poem from decades ago which, I believe, hints at the question, “What is Romance?”
Of Seeing Her
By Jeffrey L. Salter
(like he brushed a low amperage connection)
when she smiled through the window
and walked in
toward his table.
Unaccustomed to this waiver of insulation
and unprepared for such electricity,
he wondered whether anyone had noticed
… as though he’d involuntarily giggled,
But that disorientation was grounded
by his odd delectation
of this circuit’s current.
And he felt the urgent – but uneasy – desire
to be shocked again.
[Published in Sunday at Four — Vol. 5 # 1 (Spring 1996), p. 16.]
Whatever romance IS, it’s complicated. But chiefly: it incorporates the exhilarating, improbable, often irrational, creative – and sometimes painful – rush of feelings, thoughts, and physical sensations.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
Jeff [on Thursdays]
Jeff! Congrats on the new blog! I’m so happy for you. Plus Danica and Lynn are great and I look forward to getting to know the rest of the foxes;)
Thank you for sharing your beautiful poem and I’m glad you’re here!
I hope you know that you’re gonna be at the top of my list of authors I’ll invite to be a “guest Fox” on those Thursdays when I’m paralyzed by ignorance about the weekly topic.
Hi, Jeff *waves* You are very talented and brave (you’re blogging with 4 women, jeez, you’re brave). I love the “Whatever romance IS, it’s complicated.” That is so true. It can’t really be defined because it means something different to each individual.
I’m looking forward to hearing the male perspective (really, I’m looking forward to all the “discussions” between you and the ladies).
Thanks, Falyn, for your gracious compliment, but I wouldn’t call it ‘bravery’. It’s more like some doofus who stumbles into NYC and is tempted by a sharp ‘salesman’ to buy the Brooklyn Bridge. [Sounded too good to be true, but I was gullible enough to believe it anyway.]
I’ll say one thing for *US* — we’re a diverse lot!
Look, Jeff- we did it!!! It looks great and it came up just right. You are now a trained professional blogger.
Love the post, love the poem. Awesome. Can’t wait to read one of those screwball comedies.
Yes, Jillian. And you, my dear, are now a Certified Telephonic Blog Trainer.
Add that to your shingle.
As for reading: I’m still trying to wrangle one between the covers. Wait … that didn’t come out right. Oh, well, you know what I mean.
Congrats to the hound (and the 4 foxes) on your new gig. This looks as if it’s going to be a fun blog. And as always, I love your humor.
Oh, and great poem! You summed up love (or lust) at first sight perfectly.
Thanks, Jenn. I don’t know if we’re going to post provocative photos like (someone-who’s-blog-I-visit-on-Wednesdays) to drool upon, but it looks as though we’ll have a few laughs.
Glad you liked the poem. I have a couple which are so sizzling hot I have to type with oven mitts on.
I also plan (eventually) to run that pirate poem I showed you before.
I want to see you type with oven mitts on- that would be quite entertaining!
Do you were an apron, too, Jeff? 😉
Congrats on your first blog post ever, Jeff!
I’m jealous now. It takes me 90,000 words (yes, ninety THOUSAND words) to write what you summed up in those few lines. Love, romance is pure emotion. Darn it. Great post!
Danica, thanks, neighbor.
A scientist might say that love/romance is pure electricity … and he/she might ask: ‘how many volts can you stand?’
Of course, in actual electricity, it’s the amps that kill you … not the volts.
In Romance, it’s the touch that does you in.
Jeff- that’s a great way to put it. You should be a poet!
Good to be able to find you in one spot, Jeff! (Wondered how long it would be before someone latched onto you! lol)
Your poem sets the stage for why romance writers write . . . that singular, individually affected, electric way that love or lust initially connects people. And the reason the stories will ever be fresh is because it’s never the same twice, but unique between each couple it touches.
I’ve already added the blog to my list. Looking forward to some male perspective. At least I know you’re man enough to handle the good-natured teasing! Best of luck with this venture–even though I know it will be carried by talent.
Runere, thanks … but I’m almost always in one spot — Possum Trot.
I’m not certain if these foxes have latched onto a hound … or if a hound is just chasing them through the woods. I guess we’ll see.
If this blog later changes its name to “Four Foxes” then I guess it means they out-ran me. Or something.
Anyhow, I replied to Danica that the ‘touch’ does one in. But on further reflection, I’d have to add: the ‘visual’ seals the deal (and — usually — precedes the touch). Though in my sixth manuscript the heroine and hero first ‘meet’ in the dark and touch before they actually see each other.
Welcome to the world of blogging, Jeff. Your life will never be your own again, especially now that you’re surrounded by four foxes. 🙂 I LOVED your definition of romance.
Thanks, Laurie. Glad you could visit and comment.
I’m pretty sure you’re correct aboout my life being taken over … at least on Thursdays.
You know, being surrounded by four foxes is sorta what I’ve always wanted.
When I was a kid and each of us siblings were allowed to ‘help’ my mom bake brownies … I think I wore an apron of sorts.
Don’t recall one since.
Ach! Since I’m on the West Coast and seldom have a chance to check in till after the kids are at school, I’m always the last to comment!
Loved the poem!
I can’t write poetry to save my life, but I definitely understand about condensing emotions. I have the opposite problem to Danica- I can’t seem to write much over 50,000 words.
I find writing sex scenes a lot like writing poetry- you have to use metaphor and symbolism, pacing is crucial, and you’re trying to describe in a new way something that’s been illustrated a million times before.
Glad you’re here!
Daisy, I’d forgotten about Pacific Time. We lived in Sacramento for less than a year when I was in the Air Force.
Thanks for the compliments.
Some people who don’t write poetry don’t like to read it either. Glad you’re open-minded.
In my six novel ms. so far, the ‘sex’ scenes are more like those of the movies up to the 1950s: the music comes up and the door closes. As long as I can get away with it, I’d prefer the readers to supply those details. If I’ve brought them along (in that scene) adequately, the readers are revving with more imagination that I may possess anyhow. LOL
My longest (# 3) is 163,400 wds., but I’ll have to scrap a good bit of the beginning 100 pages if I hope to hook a publisher (or agent or editor).
My shortest (# 6) is about 75,000. The others are
91k wds for # 4,
100k wds for # 2,
110k wds for the overhaul of # 1,
110k wds for # 5
Summary: I guess I’m ‘wordy’ like Danica. Ha.
LOVE this. Great post. 🙂
And you’re on deck for tomorrow’s run!
Hi, Jeff. Thanks for the invitation to visit this great web log. Hi to all your colleagues as well – those I’ve met in other cyberclubs a special hiya! Coming from the short story bombast myself (rare poetic infusions but I am a reader) and floating mysteriously from succinct to proliferation, I salute your journey and join you in the celebration of Romance.
All the best to you all on your new adventure together.
Glad you made it, Leigh! Thanks for the good wishes.
I love your very lyrical comment, especially, “floating mysteriously from succinct to proliferation.” Awesome phrasing.
Wow, my first pub gig was in poetry back in ’92. I loved your poetry and look forward to seeing your perspective in this group of foxes!
Thanks, Rachel. Always nice to hear from a fellow poet who likes my lines.
Glad you visited and hope you return often.
I’m usually here on Thursdays, but one the Foxes is usually around somewhere.
Sorry I didn’t drop in yesterday for your debut. Love you poem. Looking forward to more Thursdays here with the Hound among the Foxes.
These foxes were kind to let me in out of the cold.
[ … must have been all my howling …]