Happy April Fool’s Day! And a very merry unbirthday to me! My actual birthday is in August, but as a young girl, it grieved me that I had a summer birthday when none of my school friends were really around to celebrate. My mother’s solution was to designate April 1st as my unbirthday thus allowing me to have a party during the school year at which I would inevitably receive an empty present or one filled with rocks as an April Fool’s joke.
Cute kids, huh.
Few things are more foolish than the Mad Hatter and his crazed tea party, the origin of the unbirthday status and song (though I maintain that his creator, Lewis Carroll, was a shade too creepy a guy, always excepting his excellent taste for Christ Church, Oxford University). We’re all fools in life at one point or another. Often being foolish is how we relax, unwind, or celebrate; sometimes it’s also how we learn.
In literature, the role of the fool is often an avatar for much wisdom; the voice of reason couched in a frame of ridiculous. The Grand Master himself, Shakespeare, makes best use of his fools in this way, often covering the actual fool in the patina of wisdom personified either by age or stature. I thought particularly of Shakespeare’s Lear this past week as Sir Ian McKellen immortally brought his performance to the small screen via PBS. Lear conveys the epitome of foolishness when he seeks to barter his kingdom for his daughters’ love. His youngest daughter, Cordelia’s, response illuminates the lack of wisdom in her father’s actions as she refuses to quantify her love. “Unhappy as I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth. I love your majesty according to my bond; nor more, nor less.” Lear counters further on, “So young, and so untender?” Cordelia responds, “So young, my lord, and true.”
Cordelia’s one of the original romantic heroines to my mind, forsaking the easy road to stay true to herself and to her own notions of love and loyalty. Mind you, she’s killed in the end, but at least she caught her prince first. Priorities.
I would wager that we all know the sensation of heaving our hearts into our mouths whether in fear, grief, or when surprised by joy. No doubt we’ve all offered our hearts to lovers at one time or another or felt them drop, or even stop, with attraction or desire. Surely we have all been fools for love.
And if we haven’t, well by Jove, sure our heroines certainly have. For surely that is one of the greatest pleasures in being an author of romantic fiction, to allow our heroines to plunge through the heights and depths of romantic emotion that we too have experienced, or that we hope may someday cross our paths. We’re automatically foolish by profession because we willingly enter into play within a world of fully realized locations and people as real to us as our own families. Indeed, we are compelled by our creative writing natures to do so.
To be an author is to be a kind of ridiculous fool and to impart much wisdom by being so. As writers, we can be foolish in creating historical romances and explore the complexities of Medieval or Regency gender roles. We can be foolish in writing western adventures and revisit the untamed passion, raw courage, and fierce uncertainty of the American frontier. We can be foolish in word building paranormals and wonder at social hierarchies amongst demons, werewolves, and vampires. We can be foolish in “chick lit” with the single girl in the city looking for love and discover the burdens and identity issues facing young professional women of today. We can be foolish in mature romance and reveal the beauty of second chances.
All wisdom revealed from our foolish play.
Good news! We can also be foolish in the myriad ways our heroines (and heroes!) achieve their final happy endings.
Where’s the fun without that?
So I say to all like-minded fools out there – enjoy your special day.
Kiersten Hallie Krum is a pre-published writer of romantic suspense fiction who is often foolish for many things. During the daylight hours, her secret identity works as a pharmaceutical advertising editor and a back cover copy writer of romantic fiction. She anxiously awaits the right agent/editor to make her dreams come true. Read more of Kiersten’s thoughts on writing and the world around her at www.twolftshoes.blogspot.com