'Greener Grass' was the working title I gave my new novel because I wanted to explore the idea that we tend to think something else will be better than what we currently have. No wonder I was taken aback when the new man came into my life and I found that my life was imitating art: my long-time dream of a life partner who would share my interests was being realised, just as it is for the main character in my novel. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, my blog about the new novel and my seismic life changes is here.)
I've since changed the title of the novel for something more unique since those two words are already in great use (for novels, books and lawn mowing businesses!), and I'll announce the new title soon.
In fact, I thought I'd have launched that book by now but it turns out that uprooting your whole life is a much more all-encompassing experience than I had first anticipated. I knew it would be big, of course, but there's a difference between the concept and the reality. In the concept version I could still get everything done that I needed to do. (Are you laughing? Sounds like my old friend Superwoman was talking to me...) In reality, the practicalities of farewelling my loved partner of 29 years (and my son), and moving house (twice) and learning about my new partner and setting up a home together and meeting new family and friends and setting up a new office – well, all of that has taken longer in time and energy than I had anticipated, and so the new novel launch is still around the corner.
I finished my last blog post talking about that urge for greener grass that we all experience from time to time. It's an important impulse because it urges us to expand our potential: to be physically fitter or wealthier or smarter or to have more friends or a job that suits us better or to resolve a family problem, (and that's why I also called this dynamic 'Divine Discontent'). I explore this idea in the new novel in relation to relationships and work and lifestyle. My main characters all pine for what someone else has, but – as I'm sure you know! – we will never have 'better' because of the Laws of Conservation and Polarity. Each new development, no matter how magnificent it first appears, will present us with challenges simply because life is designed that way. We are supposed to be challenged so that we grow.
Have you ever heard a comment like this about a newly married couple? 'Were they a perfect pair or did opposites attract?' To me that's a tautology! A perfect couple is two opposites attracting each other. We want that difference partly because it's (usually) the source of chemistry and because it's (definitely) the source of growth. (Pet theme of mine: the purpose of relationship is not happiness but growth.) My new partner and I have some very interesting differences (!) but we are so appreciative of each other that it's pretty easy to navigate the give and take. I hope we keep that respect and flexibility alive long-term; I know we both intend to.
While I'm wandering around this 'greener grass' theme, I want to now honour another promise I made in a recent blog. When I wrote, 'Why I Still Wear Heels and Eat Chocolate' I promised that I'd share the thing I wanted that I felt ashamed about wanting. Some background first: I had always wanted to get married but my previous partner hadn't and it does take two to tango on something like that! I'd accepted that situation and hadn't thought much more about it over the years, but very soon after meeting my new partner, he proposed to me and I accepted. We have just announced our engagement publicly (i.e. on Facebook!), and plans are underway for a wedding next year.
But the wedding wasn't the thing I was ashamed about; it was the engagement ring. I've been a very utilitarian person for most of my life: I wear and use stuff until it's falling apart to avoid wastage and unnecessary expense – I suspect that my mother's experience during the Holocaust has something to do with that. But for years I'd dreamed about having a diamond engagement ring and would talk myself out of it: too indulgent, too frivolous; even 'greedy' and 'superficial'. And then my new partner asked if I'd like to have a ring... It was a somewhat emotional process for me to allow myself to receive a diamond ring but I am enjoying it every day.
And so maybe now is the right time to reveal the new title, after all...
i) During September to November 2017 I wrote a novel about a woman who was feeling restless in her marriage. (It was a novel I'd been building at the back of my mind for some eight years.)
ii) A week after finishing the novel, 'New Man' turned up in my life.
iii) Six weeks after meeting him I was experiencing the exact conflict that my main character experiences, and facing the same choice she faces at the end of the book. (And there were a number of other bizarre similarities or points of connection between fictional story and reality.)
iv) After much soul-searching and several counselling sessions and many conversations and tears, I chose to lovingly complete my relationship with my long-time partner and enter into a relationship with the new man. You'll have to wait for the book to find out what my main character chooses (although her situation is still significantly different because she is recommitting to her existing partner).
And the title? It's Husband, Take 2.
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I hope you'll enjoy the book when it comes out. It's certainly been a significant project in relation to my personal life. More soon.