Thursday, March 13, 2008

Old Faithful


As I’ve nattered on, confessing my neophyte stupidity when I first started writing, you’ve learned a few things, just as I did. There’s a word-count feature on Word, and 25,000 words is not a book. You can root out all adverbs doing an “ly” search. A hero’s infidelity is fatally catastrophic. Guess who had their heroes catting around in their first two completed manuscripts?

This brings me to Elliot Spitzer, New York’s newly ex-governor, a self-proclaimed Mr. Clean who’s just been caught with someone named Kristen in a Washington hotel room. Kristen is not Mrs. Spitzer. Kristen can apparently command up to $5,000 an hour, and all I can say is she must be really good at being bad. This is not a new newstory. I can think of preachers and principals and presidents who should have kept their pants zipped. I’m tired of hearing about their sexual peccadilloes. I don’t want to watch people blubber and apologize to their wives and children. And just once I’d like the wronged wife to whip out a frying pan and bash her husband on the head at the press conference. Or perhaps she should aim lower.

One never knows what goes on behind closed doors of any marriage, and this one doesn’t want to. But I do know in the fairy-tale world of romance, fidelity is paramount. So I fixed Waking Beauty. And after revising Paradise (only the synopsis to go!), I’m ready to return to Mistress by Midnight. My characters Con and Laurette have loved each other since they were children, but Con was forced to marry someone else. He remains faithful to Laurette in his own way, and there will be a HEA. It’s time to write it.

Is fidelity an unreasonable expectation? Are men and women equally guilty? Do you take pleasure, as I do, when hypocrisy is exposed? What makes powerful men in the public eye become complete peckerheads?
Thank you, John, for a frying pan-free marriage. You really are my hero.

If a man could have half his wishes, he would double his troubles. ~Benjamin Franklin

25 comments:

terrio said...

LOL! I'm pretty sure men outside the public eye become peckerheads too. They just don't have to explain their peckerheaded ways in a news conference.

In a committed relationship, there must be fidelity. For me anyway. But in books, when the author goes to extreme lengths to make either of the characters appear faithful, it gets a bit hard to believe.

The courtesan who hasn't *really* been with anyone else. The widow whose marriage was never really consumated. The rake who messed around but it was never really good until the heroine. Disbelief is one thing, but it goes a bit far at times.

I'm happy Mr. R gave you a frying-pan free marriage too, Maggie. Renews my hope there might be some good ones left. *g*

Tiffany Kenzie said...

That is one smart girl at 5Gs an hour...lol!
I've noticed American's love sex scandals. I ignore it... what happens with he and his wife is between them. We don't know the whole story, only what the media publicises.... she could be a raving lunatic that is nothing but a big be-otch... just my two cents.

And romance heroes need to be faithful because they are completely in love with each other. What's a person to dream on if not even two characters that are so entwined can't share the intimacy ony between them two... I'm rambling.... off to work...

Tiffany Kenzie said...

Maggie... who did the painting? It's very pretty.

MsHellion said...

Actually I sometimes wonder if fidelity is too much to expect. Sometimes.

But I think fidelity probably most occurs when the person you're married to is an insecure person (no matter how cocky or confident he may seem). There is certainly an esteem issue at the core, where you constantly have to have someone new, someone exciting, someone ELSE telling you what a hottie and wonderful catch you are.

When you depend on others to make you feel good about yourself, you usually end up feeling worse about yourself. Especially if you go about making yourself feel better by committing adultery.

Then again, there are other core problems, I suppose. Many do it for the thrill of "getting away with something"--which strikes me as the same kind of people who steal gum from the store (who will see? it's only one piece) and crow about their cleverness years down the road. There is only the hope they'll finally collapse under their own guilt, like that character from the Edgar Allen Poe story.

I don't know how I feel about it in my books. Maybe the reason authors go so far to make "dark characters" faithful is because deep down we know people don't change. Broken people, even when they fit all their pieces back together, are still a bit cracked--and if you can cheat and lie once, it only get easier any time after because by then you've already lose all self-respect for yourself anyway. Why not?

I wish more husbands were like Maggie's...or like James Garner. Now James is a great husband. What a catch. When asked how he was such a success at marriage, he hemmed and hawwed, but said, "I respect her. I don't do anything that would embarrass her or me." If only more people thought like that.

terrio said...

That's an interesting point, Hellion. As a victim (for lack of a better word) of infidelity, I'm not sure I'll ever quite know if it was somehow my fault or I contributed or what have you. I wouldn't change how things are today, but you always wonder.

Janga said...

I too frequently find myself repulsed by media coverage of sex scandals. On the other hand, I do think people who break promises in one area of their lives are likely to break them in other areas. And as with the latest scandal, so often it seems to be the self-righteous moral crusaders who get caught with their pants down. I find the hypocrisy more offensive than the infidelity. And I find the stupidity more offensive than eith. I like Mary Wells's comment; "Why would a man who would spend $5,000 for a few hours of sex be the best choice to balance the budget of New York State?"

Temptation may be inevitable, Infidelity is not. Nor are men the only ones who break their marriage vows. The statisticians tell us that more and more partners are unfaithful. That may be the reality, but even many of the vow breakers would agree that a faithful relationship is the ideal. The ideal relationship is what I expect between the H/H in romance. That said, the right writer can make the unacceptable acceptable.

Tiffany Kenzie said...

Well said Janga... A faithful relationship is ideal... but how realistic in today's world? or in the past?

irisheyes said...

Very well said Janga and Hellion. ITA on both counts.

I do think fidelity is attainable and I do not think it's unreasonable to expect it of each other in RL or our H/H. I can't help but compare it to what they always say about rape. Rape is not about sex it's about violence. Infidelity is not about sex it's about something else - as Hellion pointed out. If you respect and cherish your spouse you do not cheat on them. Period. If there are problems you handle it like an adult, sever the ties and move on.

Count me among those who are sick and tired of reading about everyone's sexual proclivities outside of marriage. And hear hear to the comment Janga made about the characteristics of our elected and/or religious leaders. I argue vehemently all the time when someone wants to seperate the crime from the criminal. If he's going to cheat on his wife, he's going to cheat on his country/parishioners. End of story! And if he's stupid enough to do something like that while he's in the public eye I don't want him working for me.

I, too, would like to thank Mr. Irish for being the type of husband that will never require the use of a frying pan on national TV. It's funny cause we were just talking about this very subject the other night. The beginning scene from Hope Floats is what prompted the discussion. My DH pretty much is in agreement with James Garner. He says he would never insult me by cheating. He equates it with being a coward. It doesn't matter whether it's cards, relationships, your taxes... cowards cheat. And he may be many things but he's no coward!

Maggie Robinson said...

Tiff, it's Tissot's Quarreling. I love his stuff.

Terrio,I hope your own Mr. R(ight) turns up. And don't let anybody blame you for anything. Choices get made; character counts.

Hellion, Garner has been a favorite of mine for years. One of the last true good guys, I think.

LOL, Janga re the cash. Cannot imagine anything being worth it. And I'm with you. The moral crusaders who fall are really annoying.

Maggie Robinson said...

Irish, I agree with you, too. Once you slip, it gets easier and easier for the stain to spread.

MsHellion said...

Just wanted to clarify my point with Terr, concerning her comment.

When I say that I think people cheat because of their self-esteem issues, I don't necessarily mean that it's anything that the wife/husband necessarily did or didn't do. I think it's quite possible (and frequently done) for those with esteem issues to cheat even though they are getting the attention at home. Their spouse could validate them to death--but they'd still seek it outside, to prove they "still have it". It's like throwing water down a rat hole.

Of course, you do get the cheaters who do it because their spouse is "taking them for granted" and they're too cowardly to leave--and THEN find someone else. Their esteem won't let them be happy to be alone, but they can't be content with the person who isn't "fulfilling all their needs either."

As Irish says--they're cowardly cheats.

irisheyes said...

Yeah, I forgot to add that Ter! I do believe in the old "it takes two to make or break a relationship". But cheating is, IMO, a different story. When you cheat you are, as stated earlier, taking the coward's way out. That can't be blamed on anyone but the one doing the cheating. Again, just my opinion.

Sometimes relationships work and sometimes they don't, the mark of your character is not whether you are in a good relationship or bad but how you handle either one. You can spend all day playing the blame game and I'm sure knowing you as well as I do *w*, you've stepped up to the plate and taken your fair share of the blame. JMO :)

J.K. Coi said...

I love this blog Maggie! The only thing I really want to say is how much I believe that while there are many ways of successfully breaking the "writing rules" in our manuscrits and getting away with it..you're right in that there are some things no one really wants to read in a romance, because of the fact that it is a romance and the readers start to fall in love with the characters just as much as the hero and heroine fall in love with each other. It has to be realistic in that if the reader can't see themselves loving the hero/heroine because they've cheated or lied, then they can't believe that the character will be able to love either, and the story flops downhill from there.

But like I said, there are always people who break the rules and do it in such a way that they can totally pull it off..I'm sure that even the infidelity rule is one of them. I think I've even read a book like that, but don't ask me to name it off my head.

Anonymous said...

Infidelity is bad enough; humiliation in public is bad enough; having to accept a spouse's unbelievable stupidity is bad enough; but to add insult to injury and find out your guy spent EIGHTY THOUSAND DOLLARS from the family bank account? If I were Mrs. Spitzer, that frying pan would be cast-iron and swung repeatedly.

Maggie Robinson said...

LOL, Anon, I'm with you. I mean, I believe in redemption and forgiveness and all, but maybe not right away. There would be a few satisfying smacks first. Minor concussion? A little brain damage? Fractured skull? Oops.

Kris, I've read stuff too which made it possible. I think there had to be a really explainable reason for straying, and there had to be plenty of groveling. I kind of had that in both books, but it's a risk I'm not willing to take anymore. As a writer I'm interested in imperfect people, because as a reader, I'm imperfect---I want to know it's possible to find that nugget of HEA in the dumpster (to use your latest WIP!)no matter what's happened before. But maybe infidelity is such a hot-button issue it's best left to the newspapers.

MistyJo said...

Good blog, Maggie!

IMHO, fidelity is a must in a relationship. My parents cheated on one another and divorced twice (divorced when I was in the 5th grade, remarried, and divorced again when I was in the 7th grade). I've seen what it can do, and I always told myself that if I ever got to a point in my marriage that I was interested in someone else, then it was time to walk. I also refuse to stay with a cheater. I've had friends who have cheated, but I didn't judge them. It's their business. I guess that is why I don't really pay attention to cheaters in the news.

I'm thankful that God gifted me with a second marriage that is full of love and trust. I enjoy knowing that my husband is completely devoted to me. Call me selfish. :-)

As for the $5,000 girl in the news, she needs to write a book. I'm sure a lot of people would like to know how she got that price tag! Me included.

terrio said...

You know, there's a guy I know who recently cheated on his wife and his excuse was he needed to know he still "had it." How much affirmation can one person need?! These two had been together on and off since middle school, had a toddler and she was about to have another in less than a couple of months. Now they are all going through hell and pain and anger and all for what? Amazing.

Janga - good point about men not being the only ones. I know in my situation, two marriages were destroyed, not just one. So it goes both ways.

Irish - I've never thought of it as cowardly but it makes perfect sense. If one partner falls out of love with the other and wants out, then get out. But don't pretend everything is fine and then betray both of you. Have the balls to be up front.

Elyssa Papa said...

From NY as most of you know and this scandal has been ALL over the news. The soon-to-be former governor had banked himself on "reform" and had the highest approval ratings when he was first elected. But because of many things (pre-hooker scandal), his ratings have slipped and well, so many NY people are shocked by this.

I was, too. I voted for the guy and liked him. And well, when the news broke, I totally thought no way, not him.

But it happens and no one is immune. I feel really bad for the wife and daughters. And I do feel bad for him in the sense that he did have it all but threw it away on prostitutes.

Interestingly enough the news is reporting that if he'd been a Senator, he would still be in office.

But the Lieutenant Governor who's taking over Monday is going to be our first African-American governor and legally blind to boot. He's got a sense of humor and was cracking jokes at the press conference yesterday.

But well, I just feel bad for his family who has to deal with such a private matter in such a public venue.

BernardL said...

I agree with you on sniveling jerks confessing their sexual adventures with prop wives at their side. In Spitzer's case, what bothers me even more is he personally sent people to prison for the same thing.

Kelly Krysten said...

Fidelity is far from an unreasonable expectation. And, I'm with you, it's always fun to see hypocrisy exposed. You know even if the wives of politicians didn't break out the frying pan they could at least throw those gynormous rocks their husbands buy them at their heads. I mean those rings are so big they'd prolly knock the philanderer out cold.
And congrats on the frying-pan free marriage Maggie:)

Maggie Robinson said...

Kelly, diamonds as a decapitation device. I like it. :)

Ely, I know I couldn't stand by his side. To be humilated publicly is excruciating, but I understand she didn't even think he should resign!

Bernard, the hypocrisy bothers me much more than the horniness too.

Elyssa Papa said...

Yes, she didn't think he should resign. So, apparently, she's either fine with it or is an idiot... or both.

But I don't understand why she stood next to him. I'd hit him so hard. And not over the head but the part of him that was doing the thinking for him.

Keira Soleore said...

I'm sure John is infinitely grateful his noggin is still the same shape as it was pre-marriage. I'm sure it was love for you (and a healthy fear of the pan) that kept me true.

Once the two parties are committed singly, i.e., they haven't told the other person, but the reader knows now that the committment has been made. As it point I as the reader expect fidelity, not a revolving door, no smooches with ex's etcetc.

Santa said...

Amen to the frying pan, sister! I'm with you! Enough stupidity already. Even if they had a 'modern' marriage and they've agreed in private to do what ever they want to, so long as blah, blah, blah I still wouldn't stand by him at a press conference. I don't want her representing me as a supportive wife. Supportive of a $5,000 hooker who just yesterday was on the cover of The New York Post (yellow journalism at its best) in her altogether!!

I'm sorry. Was I getting carried away?

Yes, I do think fidelity is possible in a marriage. I know some folks haven't experienced that. All I can say is keep looking heroes don't just grace the pages of our beloved romances. I have one living with me.

Yeah on finishing the revisions on both Waking Beauty and Paradise!! Con and Lynette sound like yet another couple you've penned that I'd love to read about.

Maggie Robinson said...

Thanks, Santa! I've only got 6500 words written, so I'd better get a move on!

Keira, I think you're right about the timing in romance. The hero may have been a hounddog before, but has to smarten up.

Misty, sorry I missed your comment earlier. I'm glad love is lovelier the second time around! My dad always said he never fooled around with anyone else after he met my mother (in the woods on a picnic---sounds like Little red Riding Hood), so I'm grateful my parents were faithful---altho they did drive each other crazy. :)