My last post was rather clinical, was it not? It reflected the writer as chemist, trying to determine the ingredients of a solution by distilling it into its individual components. It is a useful exercise, but not one that engenders the enthusiasm needed to write a book worth reading. After struggling with the concept for two months, and really longer since I committed to writing this story back in January, I hit me like a bolt of lightening this week: what I was missing in my storytelling was PASSION.
Passion is the NEED for each other. More than the truth of love that time and commitment bring, it is that gut-gripping need to be together, to be physically present with each other, even if it is only knowing that the other is nearby so that you can go and touch him if you need to, reassuring yourself that he is yours and no one else’s. Passion makes you lean toward each other across a crowded room as though you would be drawn together like the opposite poles of two magnets if the obstructions were not in the way.
And when you are together, standing or sitting, you are always touching. You may not be holding hands or creating a public display of affection, but you are close, so close that you can feel the heat radiating from his body, or the gentle brush of the hairs on his arms, or the tickle of his breath on the back of your neck, or the solid security of his chest against your back, or the flexing of the muscles of his thighs against yours where you sit.
The difference between real passion and the passing tantalization of lust is the time, commitment and truth that defines a great love story. In creating Jamie and Claire, Diana Gabaldon is the master of this. I went back and looked at her language to see how a skillful writer portrays the deep and abiding passion that her characters share throughout all five books that I have read so far. Some quotes that prove the point:
More mumbling from the priest, and Jamie bent to kiss me. It was clear that he intended only a brief and ceremonial touching of lips, but his mouth was soft and warm and I moved instinctively toward him. I was vaguely conscious of noises, Scottish whoops of enthusiasm and encouragement from spectators, but really noticed nothing beyond the enfolding warm solidness. Sanctuary. (Outlander)
Jamie, though, was something different. His extreme gentleness was in no way tentative; rather it was a promise of power known and held in leash; a challenge and a provocation the more remarkable for its lack of demand. I am yours, it said. And if you will have me then…I would, and my mouth opened beneath his, wholeheartedly accepting both promise and challenge without consulting me. (Outlander)
I put my arms around his waist and held on as the horse slithered down the last steep slope. “Because,” I said, “I bloody well can’t do without you, Jamie Fraser, and that’s all about it.” (Outlander)
At first we were so happy only to be with each other and away from Leoch that we didn’t talk much. Across the flat of the moor, Donas could carry us both without strain, and I rode with my arms about Jamie’s waist, glorying in the feel of the sun-warmed muscle shifting under my cheek. Whatever problems we might be facing–and I knew there were plenty–we were together. Forever. and that was enough. (Outlander)
There are so many more to quote. Gabaldon is so very, very good at what she does. But let me leave with this one from Drums of Autumn:
“I loved Frank,” I said quietly, not looking at Bree. “I loved him a lot. But by that time, Jamie was my heart and the breath of my body. I couldn’t leave him. I couldn’t…”