Many in the sci-fi community are horrified by the way their fan-reaction to Jonathan Ross’s aborted emceeing of the Hugos is being presented, now that it’s making national newspaper stories in Britain. “They’re missing vital context!” people are crying. “They’re omitting vital facts! They’re taking a biased view, and skewing things!”
Apply that same criterion to every story that has ever gotten you upset, and ponder how that distortion may also apply before you rush to an easy judgment.
I’ve been at the center of some internet controversy-storms before, and I can tell you: facts always get omitted, contexts always get slurred, opinions always override actual content. Maybe there is a skeleton of truth, teetering around the center of the storm somewhere, but wherever there’s blog-frenzies of reactions, there’s inevitably a lot of cherry-picking. Things get distorted, and villains get made because people love villains.
And people love to feel superior. That’s what the villains are for.
If this is your first time at the rodeo and you’re all like, “…but these people are making judgments upon people I admire without having all the facts!”, then ponder all the times you read a single article from a single person, decided that their story was the full truth of it, and decided to blast it out into the world with the air of “this is what happened” as opposed to “this is one person’s take on events, what I hear disturbs me, and I’m wondering what happened here.”
Because this distortion field is what happens. It’s what always happens. And if you’re offended by the skewed way your community is being presented right now, then remember it the next time you see someone else’s foibles being picked apart, and think, maybe this isn’t the full truth. Maybe I’m missing something.
Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t post that link. Sometimes, people acting badly are… actually acting badly. Just aim that cannon of your personal PR with the recognition that things are usually more complex than presented, and things tend to congeal very quickly into camps of right and wrong, and the truth is usually floating somewhere in the middle – close enough for both sides to brush fingers against but not quite tight enough for either to hug.
Monkey-brains love simplicity. Despite millions of years of evolution, we have monkey-brains. And simplicity is often the enemy.
(And yes, the same critique could be applied to both the reaction to Jonathan Ross himself, and the reaction to the reaction to Jonathan Ross. That’s rather my point.)
(And yes, I’ve been guilty of this in the past as well. I try not to be. But even trying, I often fail. That is also rather my point.)
I’m a man who goes through a lot of depressive states, and, like most depressives, I don’t announce them.
The problem with depression is that it’s tedious, and actually anti-story. Tales are about people having bold breakthroughs, shedding old habits, transforming into newer and more dazzling people. Depression, however, is like the weather. Some days things are good, some days it’s raining out, and other days there’s a cold winter storm and all you can do is hunker down and hope you survive it.
There’s no beating the weather. There’s no vanquishing the stormclouds. You just learn to buy an umbrella, and hope you have the cash for the heating bills.
I’m undergoing a profound depression right now that’s fluttering on the edge of a nervous breakdown. I’m actually loath to call it “depression,” since depression as I have defined it personally has been a chemical thing, this pall of sadness that comes from nowhere for no good reason. It’s like I’ve been drugged to be unhappy – no, actually, that’s precisely what it is, except the drugging is of an organic and accidental nature. This depression, however, is based on a series of career setbacks I’ve had, and I’m struggling to regain my footing, but I’m barely able to function.
I am functioning. This, I am proud of. But it’s at a vastly reduced level, where I’m not responding to things I should, and overreacting to things I shouldn’t, and am in general crawling instead of walking. All my skin has been stripped off, and I am glistening tenderness everywhere.
But I may be very erratic for the next few weeks. I’m very bad at dealing with actual sorrow; chemical depressions I can go, “You’re lying,” and wave them away, but sadness created by genuine events leave me wondering what to do. I will figure it out.
For now, I’m significantly aching that I feel it’s worthy of a blog post to warn people who interact with me. I don’t want any rah-rah you’re wonderful Ferrett speeches, as they’ll slide right off, and there’s a better-than-even chance I may take your head off in the doing. I am not wonderful, not right now. I am crawling back, one step at a time, towards something a little more functional, and maybe I’ll even be stronger, but right now I am so tired of crawling, of needing cheerleaders, of needing to try, that I’m very down.
And you should know, if you plan to interact with me. That is all.
Today’s attempt to analyze what makes for a compelling opening chapter is a mashup that totally shouldn’t work – Jane Austen and dragons.
Yes, Jo Walton’s Tooth and Claw is a book where genteel, cannibalistic dragons sit in English countrysides and worry about being married properly. And that is one hell of a thing to sell. It’s a concept so absurd that as an author, you’d have to work overtime to get past the initial silliness of the material – because Jane Austen is actually quite serious stuff.
So the question is, how does Jo Walton signal that these are both dragons and English-style gentlemen?
Tooth and Claw, by Jo Walton (Feel free to download the sample to your Kindle, if you’d like to play along.)
Opening Sentence: “Bon Agorin writhed on his deathbed, his wings beating as though he would fly to his new life in his old body.”
I talked in my analysis of Old Man’s War about the need to signal the presence of a non-standard protagonist right away – if you’ve got someone who’s not white, relatively young, and male, you need to jar the reader out of that default analysis before they get too firmly set in their visualization. (Which isn’t to say that it’s necessarily right that people default to zomgcisheterowhitedude, but it is a tendency you need to fight.)
And here, Jo is smart enough to recognize that if you’re gonna write about dragons, you’ve gotta start with a bold signal that these people aren’t human. So: beating wings. But also a deathbed, which hints at a more civilized society – a deathbed implies a long slow death, usually of the elderly, in a comfortable place – so yes. Goal achieved. Both the Austeny components and the dragonish components signaled up front before we’ve exited the first quarter of the first paragraph. (The rest of that paragraph hammers on this double-duty as well – discussing “doctors” leaving the “draughty undercave” where he’s sitting on his “scant gold.”)
When Do We Find Out What Motivates Our Protagonist? Usually, it’s in or before the third paragraph, and here it arguably is in paragraph #3: Bon’s son Penn approaches his father on his deathbed to ask what’s wrong. (The next paragraph fleshes this motivation out, where he wonders what’s troubling his father so.)
What Happens In The First Chapter? Bon dies, but not before settling his affairs (dispensing his gold and his body, which his family will eat and grow strong from), and making a shocking confession – that he ate his brother and sister alone to grow large enough to avoid being eaten by his adopted parents. His son, a priest, grants him absolution regardless, but immediately regrets the decision.
There’s some wonderful justified worldbuilding here – and several first-chapter analyses later, one of the keys of “good worldbuilding” seems to be “justified.” In this case, the son attempts to reassure his father by saying this:
“Beginning with more than a gentle name, you have grown to be seventy feet long, with wings and flame, a splendid accomplishment and the respect of all the district. Five of your children survive to this day. I am in the Church, therefore safe…. Berend is well married and has children, her husband is a powerful and industrious Lord. Avan is making his way in Irieth. His is perhaps the most perilous course, but he has strong friends thus far, as you did before him.”
The dialogue rings a little of “As you know, Bob” – but in this case, the son does have some urge to go over his family, to let his father slip into death without guilt. But note what gets accomplished there – we’re told in that first line of dialogue that dragons measure success in foot-growth, that wings and flame are something to be aspired to in this world. And then, in the next sentences, it’s made blatantly clear that being killed is a distinct possibility, one that other dragons have to maneuver to be protected against. All before we’re to the end of paragraph #5.
This is a short chapter, less than five pages, but it is also highly political. Bon is concerned with dispensing gold, splitting up his body; Penn considers himself lucky to have gotten into the Church, and is worried about losing his position as parson. Should it come out that he has given absolution for such a great sin, he could lose his position.
The thing is, the danger presented in the plot is slight. The only person who knows about Bon Agornin’s terrible crime is his son Penn, and no one else. Penn is shaken by the revelation, but it’s doubtful this will affect the plot as of the end of this first chapter. What draws us in is the depth and complexity of this world – we’re not so much fascinated by Penn, who is at this point a rather unprepossessing minister, but rather the idea of a world full of dragons eating dragons, and how does a thinking being maneuver in such a society?
We’re drawn in by the promise of a bigger world. Character is secondary; we want to know the society. And given that the only rule in first chapters is that they have to make you want to read the second, that’s different, but it’s perfect.
1) We had seven guests for our Oscar party last night. There were nine films up for Best Picture.
Not a one of the guests had seen one of the Best Picture nominees.
That’s a problem, because why the hell would you watch the Oscars when you don’t care? Now, clearly people do – seven folks showed up – but that’s like the Superbowl in that there’s such a big social event that it barely matters who’s on the field.
But the Oscars know that ratings rise when people have seen the films (the year when Avatar was up for it was a big spike), and drop when it’s unexciting. That’s why they doubled the number of nominees, one suspects, to give people more of a shot.
Yet Oscar is still Oscar, and likes dreary depressing movies. (12 Years A Slave is a very Large and Important Film that provides a history lesson, but it’s also precisely the opposite of fun.) Oscar doesn’t like action films, or comedies, which means what you get left are a lot of dramas. And dramas are increasingly moving to TV.
(Though we did get a bumper crop of pretty awesome and humorous dramas this year in the form of American Hustle, Wolf of Wall Street, and Captain Phillips – which one suspects accounts for the decent ratings this year. My guests didn’t watch it, but with four $100 million+ box office blockbusters in the mix, it wasn’t as bad as the year where The Artist was the frontrunner.)
So what’s that mean for the Academy Awards? Tough choice. You can’t just start saying, “Oh, the Avengers!” without really sapping the dignity of the Oscars, but considering the Oscars harp on an increasingly-smaller piece of the movie pie – dramas aimed at grown-ups – then less and less people will be invested as time goes on. People have no one to root for but the dresses. And those are dresses worn by actors and actresses who largely appeal to older people.
Like I said. Tough gig.
2) Ellen Degeneres was a perfectly safe host who played it perfectly safe. You knew what you were going to get with Ellen Degeneres. She is keyed to offend nobody.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I find it hard to get really keyed up about Ellen. She goofs around, makes a couple of good shots, and I kind of forget she’s the host. And again, some people are going to be all “Oh, I love Ellen!” and that’s great, she’s lovable, but as an Oscar host Ellen is pretty dispensable.
Maybe that’s what you want, really: a host who just shoves the people on-stage as quickly as possible and gets the hell off. But again, that makes it harder to get people invested in the Oscars, because you’re basically saying, “The host doesn’t matter. The films do.” And, as previously noted, the films are increasingly less exciting. So what’s anchoring the Oscars?
My Twitter feed hated hated hated Seth McFarlane last year, but the ratings spiked in a relatively low-key year. He got a lot of buzz, and the Oscars did what they inevitably do after a controversial host, which is to go back to an oldie like Billy Crystal (groan) or Ellen Degeneres. Which just gets back to the eternal problem of the Oscars being increasingly irrelevant for the coverted 18-34 demographic, and say what you will about Seth McFarlane, that Family Guy audience tuned in. They generally don’t watch Oscars.
What percentage of them stayed? Who knows? This year’s decent (though not blockbuster) Oscar ratings could be explained by a) a decent amount of blockbusters on the Best Picture block, b) Ellen Degeneres being more popular as an Oscar host than I thought, c) Seth McFarlane revitalizing the format to some small extent, or d) Reply Hazy, Try Again Later.
Yet that’s your problem. The films the Oscars champions are dwindling, going to more long-term positions on television. The hosts can’t be too controversial or they’ll piss people off, but if they’re lame then people get bored (*cough* James Franco *cough*) or don’t get excited. The host is a pretty thankless task, and I’m not even certain they could make a difference, since if they make the kinds of jokes that are really honestly funny, then they’re actually shitting on the people who came to get awards. I thought Chris Rock and Ricky Gervais were great entertainment as hosts (Gervais at the Golden Globes), but they did that by reminding the audience what shallow jerks they were – and while that’s funny to me, I get how it’s inappropriate to take someone who’s gotten their lifetime achievement and yank their pants down around their ankles at the same time.
So can you have an interesting hosts? Billy Crystal’s about as good as it gets. And I’m not really a fan of his cornpone, but people seem to like it.
3) Matthew McConaughey? Best Oscar speech ever. Yeah, he creeped people out by talking about God; as a Christian, I say good for him. And I loved his enthusiasm and articulate nature as he discussed his philosophy. That wasn’t an Oscar speech, which is usually a mumbled list of names through tears, it was a speech. And go him.
(Also, he totally deserved that win, even as I felt bad; in any other year, Chiwetel could have gotten it, as his performance was also sterling.)
Today’s attempt to analyze what makes for a compelling opening chapter is one of a handful of books where, if it had never ended, I would have been entirely happy. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is a quasi-Victorian book about two stodgy magicians making it in a quasi-alternate history England, and it’s a gloriously messy little tome. It’s filled with eddies and asides and strangenesses, and I was so entranced by the tone and the imagination that I was actually disappointed when the end of the book hove into view. I recognized the plot had to ratchet things to a conclusion, but why? I was having a good time.
So how did this grand adventure start?
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Suzanna Clarke (Feel free to download the sample to your Kindle, if you’d like to play along.)
Opening Paragraph: “Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians. They met upon the third Wednesday of every month and read each other long, dull papers upon the history of English magic.”
When Do We Find Out What Motivates Our Protagonist? Now here’s the thing – because this is told in third-person omniscent perspective, it’s unclear by the end of fifth page who our protagonist is. Third-person omniscient is infamous for head-hopping among people, flitting in to someone’s thought process to give us a glimpse into their head, and then going off on a tangent.
But what a tangent! Here’s the second paragraph:
“They were gentleman-magicians, which is to say they had never harmed any one by magic – or done any one the slightest good. In fact, to own the truth, not one of these magicians had ever cast the smallest spell, nor by any magic caused one leaf to tremble upon a tree, made one mote of dust to alter its course or changed a single hair upon one’s head. But, with this one minor reservation, they enjoyed a reputation as some of the wisest and most magical gentlemen in Yorkshire.”
Now, that’s worldbuilding. By the end of the second paragraph, you have been shown – and not told – what kind of a profession magic is in this world. What’s being characterized here is not a protagonist, but rather a group of people – the magicians of York – and already you get the sense that they’re addled professors, a little bloated on their own digressions, and yet esteemed for reasons that seem mysterious. And the tone is completely straight-faced, as the addition of “With this one minor reservation,” there’s the author saying, “Yes, I know, but this is how people thought.” Brilliance.
But the question that drives the chapter appears at the end of paragraph four, when a new member called John Segundus addresses the society with a question: “In short, he wished to know why there was no more magic done in England.”
And we’re off. The reason I started this series is because I theorized that in most books, by the third paragraph, you know the protagonist’s motivation and why they’re doing things. In a third-person omniscient book, you have no protagonist to track closely, so instead Clarke raises the very question the reader is likely to want to know – and we’re hooked. We don’t know who we’re following, but we know this chapter is going to answer the question it raised – or at least the book might, in time.
What Happens In The First Chapter? Mr. Segundus raises this question to the Society, who proceed to debate the necessity of doing magic. Segundus and his new ally Honeyfoot set out to talk to the one magician in York who did not join the society – Mr. Norrell. Mr. Norrell, however, is seclusive, secretive, and cold. And, of course, Mr. Norrell states that he can do actual magic.
Susanna Clarke has a fascinating way of writing, because what she writes is not about plot, but rather about tone and surprise. Honeyfoot and Segundus are clearly buffoons – but Clarke squeezes a lot of reader interest by never stating this. She’s got an amazing trick of having someone say (or do!) something that is, to them, quite natural, but clearly marks it via subtle textual methods that no, really, this behavior is sort of silly.
In short, she’s her own straight man. And that provides a lot of interest to pull us through a quiet chapter, because we’re actually reading two stories with every paragraph: what the person thinks they’re doing, and parsing out what’s actually happening. Each of the magicians is quite sure of themselves, positive their thoughts will be received with eager interest, and presented as such – but Clarke leads you up to it by having their stated thoughts be just a tad desperate. Tricks like this paragraph, after they’ve been told that there’s a prophecy that two men will bring magic back to England:
“You were entirely right – prophecies are great nonsense,” said Mr. Honeyfoot, laughing. And then, as if struck by a thought, he said, “We are two magicians. Honeyfoot and Segundus,” he said trying it out, as if thinking how it would look in the newspapers and history books, “Honeyfoot and Secgundus – it sounds very well.”
It’s all terribly subtle work, because Clarke hardly ever has anyone notice their foolishness – she just places two contradictory thoughts a little too close together, as she does here, so that you can’t fail to notice it. Or she has Honeyfoot say that he’s happy in the belief that he had pleased Mr. Norrell as much by requesting to see his library as he had himself.
And yet there is a seriousness here. Clarke is lampooning these people, but she is also allowing them their dignity, such as it is; she never denigrates their abilities, she merely points one slender finger towards their weak spots and lets you draw in the details. As such, what could turn into a Terry Pratchett-style sarcasm actually becomes a lovely chapter that oozes with a proper tone. The narrator is too polite to say things, you come to realize, and so you must furnish your own details. And it turn, that politeness becomes a sort of character in and of itself, where you come to realize that you must pay attention for there will be things that go carefully unsaid.
And so you do.
What you wind up with is a chapter that could, in a different book, be handled in eight pages. But the reason I was sad Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell was ending is because unlike many books, the interest is not propelled by the plot. Even in this chapter, there are swirls of diversions – do we need to have four paragraphs on the exact debate among the York Society of Magicians? Or summaries of the books in Mr. Norrell’s fantastic library? But Clarke makes them interesting digressions, by suggesting that their worth is of merit that you must judge for yourself, and so you get drawn into them.
One suspects you could pick up almost any chapter in the book and find something of interest. That is the strength of third-person omniscience: you can wander over to any damned subject you please, so long as you make it compelling. And the stylistic choice Clarke makes to dryly shift your attention to this bit before stepping away with a polite cough to let you form your own opinions makes for a very intriguing beginning.
In case you missed it, a storm swept through science fiction this morning. It’s over now.
Basically: the Hugo Awards announced the presenter this year would be Jonathan Ross, who I mostly know for being mean to Manuel. Jonathan Ross is, apparently, known for saying really offensive things on a regular basis – his Wiki page even has a lengthy list of “Controversies” – and when he hosted the British Comedy Awards, it was such a mess of obscenities and obscene jokes that many viewers called for it to be cancelled.
Within six hours of the announcement, Jonathan Ross had gotten so much negative feedback over this on Twitter that he bowed out.
Now, if I were a con committee member and Jonathan Ross volunteered to host because, as became apparent, Neil Gaiman recommended that he do so, I would be reluctant to say no. As should you, if you’re sane. Jonathan Ross has 3.6 million followers on Twitter, most of whom probably don’t tune in to the Hugos, and his audience could be a huge boost to promoting the authors we love. As I said to Mari Ness, even if one in a thousand of his followers tunes in, that’s almost 4,000 new people watching the Hugos.
That kind of influx of fans could be a good thing. If Jonathan Ross doesn’t turn it into a “mock the nerds” punching bag. So while Charlie Stross has some valid concerns about the media attention Jonathan would draw, as a con chair, you’d have to think: “Can I keep him from making off-color jokes? Is there a way to have him hold a respectful ceremony? Because if he can, then we can really enlarge the audience of good science fiction.”
Now, I don’t know the answer to that question. I suspect not. There’s a uniquely British style of comedian who seems to get off on public controversy, and in fact delight in tweaking the rules – Jeremy Geary, Ricky Gervais – and so I suspect telling him, “Okay, keep it respectful, toe the line” would just lead to him shrieking fuck at the first available opportunity. Even if you can excuse his past history, I’d be leery of the future.
But maybe not. Maybe Jeremy was genuinely excited to meet the science fiction authors he claims he loves, and would show an unparalleled respect for the medium, thus bringing in fans. Maybe. I’m not here to argue that, I don’t know the dude.
What I do know is that just randomly announcing this on Twitter to a group of authors still reeling from the last SFWA battle is complete incompetency.
Look. Anyone in the crowd should have known that this would be a gigantic controversy. And by dumbly just going, “Whoo, guess who’s hosting?” without more than a perfunctory public statement, they fucked over both Jonathan Ross and the Hugos.
(If you can’t tell, I don’t mind swearing.)
What should have happened is that they planned this for a Monday morning, and they had a nice press announcement from Jonathan Ross saying, “Oh, wow, I grew up reading science fiction books and I love this medium, and let’s namedrop my love of several books, and I’m really glad to be given this honor to host.” He has a great love of science fiction, I’m told, so use your initial press push to say Hey, I’m one of you. And hopefully assure people he won’t make sexist quips at the ceremony.
And then, since he said on Twitter that Neil Gaiman recommended him for the job, have Neil say, “I think Jonathan will be a fine host, and I couldn’t be gladder he’s got the opportunity.” And whoever else in the zone thinks he’s a good guy.
That would not make your controversy disappear. You’d still have the issue of, I dunno, one of your committee members resigning. And you’d still get a lot of people leaving. But if you’d given us reassurance that he’s not just coming in to mock the nerds, that he loves the medium, that he understands that this isn’t a place to make a quip about unfashionable dresses, maybe you could have gotten science-fiction to go, “I dunno, I think it’s gonna be a train wreck, but let’s give it a shot.”
Now, none of this is to say that Jonathan Ross should be the Hugo host. That’s a discussion for others to have.
What I am saying is that it is literally unconscionable for Lon Con 3 to just drop Jonathan Ross onto us, and us onto him, without actually doing the barest amount of PR work.
And I don’t know that they could have done all this, honestly. Maybe Jonathan Ross wasn’t willing to sit down and do the reassurance thing – after all, he’s a big star, and probably thinks he was doing the con a favor. Maybe they couldn’t get anyone to vouch for him.
But if you can’t get that bare minimum done to calm the waters, then you don’t choose the guy. Because what will happen is exactly what happened.
Now, some think this was a purposeful shot – Lon Con 3 was angry at the SFWA scandals, and chose to haul in a guy who was guaranteed to be controversial so they could watch us tear him to shreds, thus “proving” that science fiction fans are just niggling idiots who’ll tear down anyone. Which I doubt. I don’t attribute to malice what can be attributed to incompetence, and this smacks to me of “Oh, we’ve got a real person interested in us, someone who’s a star, this is all gonna be so good!” And they were so blind that they allowed this to happen.
I doubt that Jonathan Ross would have done a good job of it, personally. But maybe he could have. And certainly it makes everyone look like idiots when someone presents what is guaranteed to be a controversial issue, so controversial it takes all of six hours to get the man to step down, and doesn’t actually seem to have prepared for the inevitable.
I’m saddened, because this was inevitable. And yet nobody inside the decision-making levels of management seemed to realize that, despite every possible sign.
I understand why they wanted to make “fetch” happen. But someone should have realized that you had to do a lot of groundwork for that.
“Welcome to my house!” your friend says, ushering you in. “Just… don’t walk over into the corner.”
“Why not?” you ask.
“I’m pretty sure that if anyone stood there, they’d fall right through the floor. Not that I’ve ever done it, of course, the linoleum’s all saggy – I wouldn’t trust the entire kitchen, actually. That’s why we keep the refrigerator in the bedroom. And cook our eggs on a hair curler, over the toilet. And – oh, no, don’t lean against that wall! That’s a load-bearing wall!”
“…Shouldn’t a load-bearing wall be able to deal with me leaning against it?”
“It’s only-load bearing so long as nobody adds stress to it. Don’t touch it. No, don’t look at it. Don’t think about it, it’s fragile. Come here, where it’s safe, near the couch.”
“You mean the couch made of balsa wood and papier-mache?”
“It’s a beautiful couch, perfect for every need, so long as you don’t sit on it.”
Here’s the thing about houses: if your house can’t deal with the daily shocks of everyday life, it’s a crappy house. Houses exist to provide a comfortable space for you to live in, and if they’re so fragile that they’ll collapse whenever you try to, you know, live in them, then you should probably move out ASAP.
The same can be said of relationships.
I see a lot of very sad people, going, “Oh, I can’t tell him when I’m upset! He’ll leave me!” Or “I can’t tell her I love her, that’ll ruin this thing we’ve got going!” Or “I need this dirty kind of sex to feel content, but if I ask them to participate in such filth, I’m sure they won’t want to have anything to do with me!”
If that is the case, it is better if the house collapses.
Relationships exist to serve your mutual needs. If the only way you can remain within a relationship is to suppress your most natural urges, then that is by definition a shitty relationship. And if the only way you can keep this relationship functioning is by doing the metaphorical equivalent of cooking eggs on a hair curler over the toilet, then I will tell you the best possible thing you can do is to shove the fridge into the kitchen, see if the floor actually collapses, and if it does, then find a better house.
Someone you are dating should be able to deal with who you are – maybe not who you are at your worst. (I generally find “you at your worst” is the sort of thing you should be making apologies for and trying to keep locked in a closet as frequently as possible.) But they should be able to cope with you having an ordinary bad day, or you raising your voice, or you needing something that you wake up every morning wanting.
Otherwise, you don’t have a relationship. You have an illusion. And illusions will inevitably break.