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Feb 14, 2009

A Writer's Valentine's Day Story

Once I fell in love with a man who didn't fall in love with me back.

* * *

I'm a writer. So when I write a Valentine, it tends to turn into a novella-length opus. And I've embarrassed myself by sending lengthy, unrequited love letters, more than once.

The first time I sent one to my high school / college sweetheart. I wasn't sure I was in love with him, but I wrote him a long, sappy letter anyway.

He called me in response to my letter to tell me he was now seeing someone else and planned to marry her.


Still, in this case, it was my pride which was hurt more than my heart.

Not so with the second time I wrote a love letter.

* * *

This time I was convinced I was in love with one of my co-workers.

I did everything I could catch his attention, but he never even noticed I had fallen in love with him. He didn't act like he loved me -- I'm not even sure he liked me. My friends, who had probably read too many romance novels, assured me not to give up, because they were sure the fact he picked fights with me was a sign he, too, loved me -- secretly, of course.

I wrote him a love letter, but chickened out before I gave it to him.

Eventually, I had to face the fact that, no, he was not secretly in love with me, no matter how romantic that would have been.

On the day we parted, I gave him the love letter. I suppose it was one, last desperate attempt to win his love. Maybe as he would read it, tears would come to his eyes. He would say, "I can't believe you wrote this. Because, you see," -- here he would hand me a thick piece of folded vellum -- "I wrote you one too, and like you, never dared show you how I felt until now."

Nope. He read it and thanked me politely for the letter. I never saw him again.

Even at the time, painful as it was, I knew that if a man did not love me, he wasn't the one for me. Someone else was, and I would find him eventually. Still, it was one thing to tell myself that. It was another thing to make myself feel it.

I was heartbroken for a long time.

Like an idiot, I fell in love again. Worse, I realized what I had felt before paled before real love. If this man rejected me too, it would be time to think seriously about my plan to go stay in the nunnery in Nepal where I had once studied Vajrayana Buddhism.

We were good friends, but did he feel more than that? How could I tell?

Being a writer, I wrote him a love letter. Yup, even though this method hadn't helped me before, I was stubborn and I tried it again.

It was quite long and I'm not going to bore you or embarrass myself by reproducing it. In essence, I asked him, "If you're going to break my heart, please tell me now. Otherwise, let me be yours forever."

And yes, it was that tacky. It was a Valentine's Day love letter, after all, hand-written on parchment wrapped in a cover of red, red roses. I gushed on and on. I swear the thing was at least sixteen pages long.

I waited anxiously for his answer. I surfed the net for Nepali nunneries with good internet connections, just in case.

* * *

The moral of the story: If you give someone a Valentine begging, "Please be mine forever", it doesn't matter how kind they are when they tell, "Sorry, I just want to be friends."

And yet, no matter how hard it is to believe at the time, it really is for the best.

Sometimes writing a query letter feels like writing a love letter. It's not quite as intimate, of course -- thank goodness! -- but you are sharing something you love, your book, and asking if another person can find it in their heart to love your book too.

And sometimes, they just can't. Although it doesn't feel like it at the time you see that polite rejection slip, it's for the best. You wouldn't really want to marry someone who doesn't love you. You wouldn't really want an agent who doesn't love your book. An agent who loves you book is worth waiting for.

* * *

The other moral of the story: There is, of course, one thing even better than finding the perfect agent.

That's finding a man who man who loves you so much, he isn't driven away, even by a gushy sixteen page Valentine in red, red rose wrapping paper. (He will, however, torture you for the rest of your marriage by trying to read out loud every Valentine's Day.)

We're married now with two beautiful children.

* * *

Btw, don't send sixteen page query letters. *grin*

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