The first entry that I made on this blog is a poem I wrote several years ago–What’s Love Got to Do With It?–a poem I wrote long before I started working on The near Transformation of Claire. This poem found its way into Claire’s story, and in its broadest interpretation, the poem is about frustration, a place I frequented for a variety of reasons. But the poem or the reasons for my frustration are not the subject of this post: risk is the subject—why did I write Claire, why did I write a story that could be potentially damaging, what would my family think, why jeopardize my reputation, why erotic fiction? Well, for one, I thought my story was smart and relevant, an idea that I just couldn’t shake, a rebuttal almost to the fifty shades of whatever that was. My own little blockbuster, the sleeper story that was going to shorten the distance to my Puerto Rico condo. But I also came to believe that risk was my way out of frustration–my artistic, professional and personal frustration. I took the risk plunge to rid myself of discontent—I didn’t think there was any other way to alleviate my condition. I took the risk plunge knowing that I could come out on the other side a healthier and happier woman. Was risk the right way to go? It’s too early to say, my journey continues to unfold, but strength has shown up as a side-effect, and it is powering me through my choices.
The following excerpt is from The near Transformation of Claire, and again, the poem is part of the story. When I wrote the poem I suspect it was at that same time that risk first revealed itself in my mind, both as an option and an adventure.
What’s Love Got to Do With It?
She had an affair not for love nor lust
nor obsession with her fading self.
Standing on the edge of old
she wanted to be startled at every turn.
Sixty—it was all about turning 60, right? Claire obviously understood that the poem spoke to sex and loneliness and vanity, but age was right up there on the list as well, right? Birthdays had not been important for some time, age an arbitrary number, a number not as important as the one on the scale. But 60 was different, a 20-year window in which to travel, to play, to shed the confines of a suburban lifestyle, to bloom perhaps one more time—60 was the edge of old. But regardless of inspiration or one’s interpretation, Claire knew that the poem was more than grappling with age and sexual frustration. Within her voice was a dreamlike suggestion, a whisper that Claire first mistook for a sigh—you deserve to be happy. Deserve was not a word Claire typically applied to herself, and although she tried to imagine herself happy, she really had no idea what it looked like. That’s disturbing, she thought.
photo credit and note: I have used this image several times and do not know its origin. I would love to acknowledge the artist and welcome any insight as to the source.