Peter Murphy: Writing about love is a dangerous business

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Peter MurphyI kept reminding myself of this when I first sat down to write Lagan Love but, being the romantic old fool that I used to be back then, I had to dive right in, anyway.

I have long felt that ‘Love’ is the most complicated and misunderstood aspect of life. It is, according to Christian principles: ‘the greatest virtue’ but how many of us approach it that way?

The Beatles sang that it was ‘all you need’ but isn’t neediness contrary to the principle of love?

Cole Porter said we could buy it and Peggy Lee described it as an ailment. Frank Sinatra suggested it was sorcery and my old Irish mammie would snort and say there was plenty of time for that, later.

Love, which has inspired the greatest acts of kindness and self-sacrifice, has also been the accepted rationale for crimes of passion and remains a socially acceptable excuse for irrational behaviours that might otherwise be discouraged.

To my mind, gnarled as it is, love is in many ways similar to, and often enflamed by, drunkenness!

Far too many of us have lost our minds in love-affairs that are nothing more than breeding grounds for the worst of our neurosis, our insecurities, our selfishness and dependencies. We look to love for reaffirmation or fulfillment and if we don’t find it, we blame the object of our love, or love itself. Talk with anyone after a breakup. How many of us will admit that we entered the now defunct relationship with less than virtuous aspirations?

Perhaps a truth is that we allow the headiness of attraction to cause us to abandon all sense and literally throw ourselves at someone without really knowing. The culture of love encourages this. ‘Trust in love,’ we are told over and over.

The ‘Romance Industry’ does not help, serving up the sweet delusion of fantasy that makes the reality of failed love all the more bitter.

And we do not limit ourselves to loving persons. We love our country even when more rational thought would decry all the terrible and stupid things done in our country’s name. We love our sports teams through long droughts when their primary interest seems to be the amount of money they can wrangle from us. We love our politicians and pop stars and when we are confronted by their human frailties, we simply ignore them, choosing to see conspiracy or bad press, instead.

We even love our children as they feast on us emotionally and financially until we are withered up into old age—forgotten and useless. (However, we can also love and indulge our grandchildren because it is a chance to get even with our children!)

But you are not supposed to say any of this aloud. That would be bitterness or cynicism—the tell-tale scars of failed love.

The scars of all these types of love, mine and others, flawed and fulfilling, were one of the reasons why I had to write Lagan Love. I had to take the sacred cow that is love and have a long hard look at it through the lens of my characters. They loved each other in all the ways we see around us and yet might find disturbing on the page. Many of us do not like to see love sullied by reality—preferring instead that all lovers should get to live happily ever-after!

Love endures in fantasy and reality and I think it is a good thing to stop and reflect on it all from time to time. In Lagan Love I try to reflect some of these loves in their many forms and hope that the reader might accept or reject them as they see fit.

I believe in love but I also believe that there is a Yin and Yang to it all. Love has a dark side that is cruel and unforgiving and I think that if we keep that in mind, we have a far better chance of finding our way through the forest of emotions that we confuse with love.

And, as the title suggests, lost love is often the best teacher.


Lagan LovePeter Murphy’s novel, Lagan Love, is currently on sale for $1.99 wherever digital books are sold. His next book, Born & Bred, will be published on March 11, 2014. Please visit our website to learn more.

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On February 4, 2014
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One Response to Peter Murphy: Writing about love is a dangerous business

  1. […] more about writing love, check out Peter Murphy over at Storyplant (he calls it a dangerous […]

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