What Erich Segal Got Wrong about Love


Cartoon can be found at truthdig (please consider purchasing it directly from the cartoonist).

Welcome to the large-hadron collider that is Words Matter Week, Day Two. If you haven’t yet, please visit the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE) Web site dedicated to this sixth incarnation of WMW.

Today’s WMW topic talks about life changes:

What word, said or unsaid, has or could change your life? How?

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”   ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


I’m peering through a literary kaleidoscope on this mattersome matter; that is to say, on this important theme. I keep fishing up two words: I’m sorry.

And yet, we are told “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Most people know this famous phrase from the Love Story book by Erich Segal, if not the movie.

To be fair, I’ve never read the entirety of Mr. Segal’s book, and I’m probably taking his quote out of context. Plus, I don’t mean to rip romance novels, but what hubristic jerk of a character really thinks in this absolutist way? If that’s the point of the line (to set up an antihero or villain), then bravo.

In my experience, love and humility are intertwined. Human beings are fallible, hence love and other human emotions, as well as the words used to express them, are imperfect. Words slip, slide, perish, and even sometimes break–at least according to American poet T.S. Eliot (read “Four Quartets” for these lines).

Now, I’m no Sybil of Cumae, but I think a simple “I’m sorry” might have the ability to transform some part of a life I have rued (to rework a line from poet Robert Frost). I’ve been party, unfortunately, to a few toxic relationships in my time, but I’ve also had to make my own share of mea culpas. So I know how two tiny words, three syllables, two or three breaths, can budge bitter hearts and begin to rebuild ransacked worlds.

Forgiveness, of self or of others, could free us from the suffering born of regret or anger or loss. And it’s hard to love if we’re unwilling or unable to either forgive or allow forgiveness.

So, were he alive, I’d love to pick Mr. Segal’s brain about that touchstone line. I suspect he might even regret it himself, in that many people know him chiefly for that line, taken out of context.

What word or words could reorder your world? While you’re pondering this, I urge you to consider taking part in the Write Tribe Festival of Words, also 2 March to 8 March 2014.

Finally, I’m sorry, Ryan. I never meant to hurt you, but, conversely, I’m glad you are where you are today, as I am where I am. Things worked out exceptionally well for us both.

The Language of Love: A Write Tribe Challenge

'Love is Blind' by M. Flores http://mflores5.wordpress.com/

“Love is Blind” by M. Flores  (please show his/her photography some love, because it is stunning).

In honor of Random Acts of Kindness Week, as well as Valentine’s Day and love (about which I’ve waxed in another flash-fiction post this week), Write Tribe is sponsoring a contest about the “language of love.”

Specifically, this quote by Rumi is to flow through the fiction piece of no more than 600 words:

“Listen with the ears of tolerance! See through the eyes of compassion! Speak with the language of love!”

Therefore, I offer my paean, in fiction form, to tolerance and love of all humanity.

Also, please note: all handles and tweeted content* are entirely from my imagination and not meant to correspond to a real person, real quote, real time, or real place (except for Pope Francis’ quote, which is verified, and the Michael Jackson data). Typos are intentional. AND—this story might contain objectionable content that is NSFW or for children.

Let me know what you think; thanks for reading; and be kind to one another!



A Bird of Eternity

For Jason: You Left Too Soon

Sadly, it fell to me to sift through the remainder of my friend J.M.’s (@TheJManfromETown*) digital signature. This all reminds me of English Romantic poet John Keats, who died aged 25 years. His epitaph says: ‘Here lies one whose name was writ in water.’

J.M. drifted away from our hometown years ago, but I will miss his many roomed heart, veined in invisible ink though it might be. I offer you this pulsing Polaroid of his online life.


Nov. 11: @GinaBeanaQueena: Girl, your rockin’ those jeans. It’s been years since theater! DM me.

Nov. 18: @BigBlondBeastXXX:  You look so frikken HOT! Do they call you B-cubed?

Nov. 21:  @LoveBigStrongMenXXX: Post them all. Aint afraid to beg.

Nov. 25: @TheJManfromETown checked into @HopeSprings Oncology at 1:40 p.m.

Nov. 27: @LoveBigStrongMenXXX: So sorry to hear about problems at work. But psyked your naked.

Nov. 27: @BigBlondBeastXXX : It is B-cubed, isn’t it? Have a great day, Stud! 😉

Nov. 28: @HomophobesSuckIt: Yeah, counts are up. Goin in for another treatment. Chemo bites.

Nov. 28: @BigBlondBeastXXX: Whadda I gotta do to get a follow? I have all your vids.

Nov. 29: @Man-LoveisBlind: Yup, I’m voice of experience. The South = Kentucky Fried Homophobia.

Nov. 30: Michael Jackson’s Thriller released 2day in 1982. I maybe old, but I know some1 who can still rock the zippered look–@BrandinTfromPhillyXXX #sexybeast #hot

Dec. 1: Don’t forget those who fell prey to a terrible disease–and their survivors. AIDS is one four-letter word that should die out of the dictionary. Support World AIDS Day, No H8. #lgbt

Dec. 2: @BigBlondBeastXXX: Happy birthday, B3! Rising the wine glass to you.

Dec. 5: @LoveGodNotFags4ever: Do I know you? John Stewart said some cool stuff abt being #gay, google it. Don’t H8.

Dec. 5:  @LoveGodNotFags4ever:  In yr honor my boxers R purple. RT @AlltheCoolPeopleAreLGBT: Wear purple to show yr supt 4 gay, lesbian, bisexual, & trans youth vs bullying.

Dec. 5: @LoveGodNotFags4ever: It’s a free country. More power to you.

Dec. 6: @FriendsofEltotheGtotheBtotheT: Zane, yr new baby is just gorgeous. She has yr dimples.

Dec. 7: Tweeps, I know times are hard, but if I can donate a few boxes to @EdenTreeFoodPantryNFP, so can you. #stophunger

Dec. 7: @XTCWiththeBoyz: Lookin’ good. Gotta admit, love me a man in a (tight) uniform.

Dec. 7: @LoveGodNotFags4ever: Look, buddy, you tweeted me 1st. Gonna have to block you now. Buh-bye.

Dec. 8: Raise your hand if you’re still up this late. I can’t sleep.

Dec. 9: Why is it ppl in Priuses speed their asses off? Just wondrin, doesn’t that negate your fuel mpg?

Dec. 9: Awesomeness! MT @LoveFrancisQuotes2013: Today, the thought that a gr8 many children do not have food 2 eat is not news.  . . . We cannot become starched Christians . . .

Dec. 11: Bummed . . .  With mamaw at the hospital. Think she broke a hip. 😦

Dec. 12: @BigBlondBeastXXX: I’m just glad 2 take pressure off kids who R being bullied or teased. Damn shame.

Dec. 15: Anyone know where to take an injured raccoon? Yes, im serious.

Dec. 17: @GinaBeanaQueena: Yeah, found Wildlife Rehab place for it, on Ash Street. They were real nice. Picked up a volunteer app.

Dec. 17: @GinaBeanaQueena: Mamaw’s doin OK. She’s staying with me, but goes 2 rehab. How RU?

Dec. 18: Tell me, what DO you get for the man who has everything . . . except a boyfriend?

Dec. 18: @TheJManfromETown checked into @BroadCreekPTRehab

Dec. 24:  Feeling like shizz today yall. Any1 know some silly songs I should put on iPod? #lonely #cheermeup #please

100 Words on Saturday: A Write Tribe Challenge

Well, it’s submission 100 Words on Saturday - Write TribeSaturday, folks. I found another challenge with which to sharpen my writing on a whetstone of words (try saying that fast). This one is the Write Tribe 100-word challenge (the 2014-5 incarnation). Give it a go, fiction f(r)iends! As always, feedback will feed you back—in other words, your comments are appreciated and I’ll do my best to reciprocate.


Genre: Microfiction

A doppelgänger of the mind

©Leigh Ward-Smith, 2014

As Melanie Yelton trained cornflower eyes on the microwave carousel, she tried to ignore the coil slipping closer to her sternum.

Silently, like many times before, she logged the revolutions of the russet, pirouetting oblongly. 265.

Giggles cartwheeled down the hallway, which made her bring the blood.

When the time comes, how do I tell her about you? Melanie chewed a lip as she drummed hangnail-ragged fingers in a 3-3-3-2-2 pattern. My constant companion. My damaged doppelgänger.

The familiar viper of fear sliding through her ribs told her that soon it would be time to check the window latches again.

Crotalus basiliscus by Dr. Holger Krisp of Ulm, Germany. This photo was obtained via Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Crotalus basiliscus (Mexican west coast rattlesnake) by Dr. Holger Krisp of Ulm, Germany. This photo was obtained via Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.