I am writing the first draft of Cold Spring Fire. It is going well and I am thinking about themes. One element I have focused on recently is…well…the one that is really in every story: the human condition. A tag line line of Cold Spring Fire has always been a story of the devil we love. It is about two women struggling with their past and present; the demons that have followed them due to the choices they’ve made as well as their upbringings.
So I have been thinking a lot about sin, guilt, desire and destruction. This year, in writing my speech for graduation, I considered the many lessons of the literature I teach. At first, I was thinking many characters often show us what not to do, and surely that is true on the one hand. But, the idea that we must completely avoid the pitfalls of passion, obsession, foolishness, despair and destruction in order to be happy, struck me as fallacy.
Sure, we don’t want to cause harm, and we want to be as good as we can be, but the human condition gets us every time. What is the human condition anyway? Well, I think it can be boiled down to two broad subjects – the two events that drive our beings in all ranges of emotions. Sex and death. Now sex may seem base, but understand that it is the driving force behind romantic love. It is a chemical reaction in the brain intended to drive us to procreate. This causes all sorts of good things and bad things in our lives. It is a powerful drive and yes, we do have institutions and morals to keep it in check rather than becoming a complete mess all the time. But people sure do find ways to make a mess of it anyway. So, sex leads to babies, leads to families, leads to the real love, the one that has nothing to do with sex - except it does, because that is where it started in our brains.
Death is the other end. Sex creates life and death is the end of it. We are obsessed with it. We watch horror, we buy anti-aging products, we have anxiety, we have religion and thus ideas of the afterlife. Death becomes us.
And so, obsession, passion, foolishness, despair, these are what make up life. These are the bridges, along with happiness and joy of course, that lead us from one end to the other. And while I continue to write, read and think about what makes us human, and the idea that it is not only our base urges, but our ability to examine them and make decisions based on a higher sense of our beings, I still stand up for those emotions that make us flawed. Because drama after all is what makes a good story, whether it is real life or fiction.