As I was writing my latest flash fiction for my Twitter series, I had the idea of writing a rationale to explain why I wrote what I did. Not only does it help me with figuring out why I’ve made the choices I have in a piece of work, but it gives my followers insight on how I write, which might prove helpful at some point. So from now on, I’ll post a rationale with each work in the Twitter series.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about love and how people’s differing perceptions of it have altered its entire definition. It was this thought that inspired ‘Two-Way Street’. I’ve been toying with this short story idea for awhile now – it’s been sitting in my notebook half-scribbled for a few months, so I thought it was high time I finished it.
The philosophy of, ‘If you love someone, let them go,’ is very much Nick’s outlook on Eleanor’s revelation that she wants a divorce. He doesn’t want her to be unhappy because he loves her so much, and if her happiness means the end of their marriage, he’ll gladly grant her that.
But Eleanor doesn’t understand that reaction. She takes his standoffish response as proof that he doesn’t love her enough to fight for their marriage. She wants him to stand up and take charge.
These attitudes are both perfectly sensible and often happen in relationships, but the reason Nick and Eleanor can no longer work is because of miscommunication, which is also very prevalent in relationships. Eleanor still loves Nick and wants to be with him, but she doesn’t give him the opportunity to try and work things out; instead, she expects him to take that initiative himself.
Meanwhile, Nick’s upset about it, but isn’t gonna show it because of his personality. Besides, she’s already told him she wants a divorce – she’s made up her mind, it seems. What kind of man would he be if he tried to stop her?
Nicholas is actually partly based on Nick Offerman, or what I call a Nick Offerman type: a real outdoorsman, someone who likes working with his hands, someone who takes pride in his creations. Nicholas is very much that person. He’s gentle and kind but still rough around the edges.
Eleanor is mousy and relatively quiet. She doesn’t do very much apart from reading, cleaning the house, and raising the kids, who are now grown and don’t come to visit much. She’s never had much fire, which is why Nick is so surprised when she tells him her true feelings. She’s never hit Nick before, and she barely curses, but some part of her has woken up.
I put these two in a beautifully secluded forest setting because this would be the ideal place for my own husband and me. We’d love to go off-grid and settle into a cosy cabin somewhere. It seems perfect – almost too perfect.
If I’d set them in a modern metropolitan house, the whole story would be boring and exactly what the reader expected. But their slow way of life and their personalities suggest they believe in fixing something when it’s broken, not throwing it away – at least, they should.
So there you have it — a brief explanation of how my brain worked while writing ‘Two-Way Street’. Hopefully this exercise will be as useful for your own writing as it has been for mine.