Heartwood

Heartwood | Extra: Lorenzo’s Apology

Hi everyone,

I’m back with an extra for Heartwood, as I mentioned in the last post. Basically, I don’t throw any writing away anymore and instead I paste all my cut chapters into a separate document. I’m not going to post any of that for the reason that it’s mostly very bad. I cut it all for a reason, after all.

However, I have one cut bit that I feel compelled to share. As you’ll know from a few moments in Heartwood and from a lot of gen 2, Lia had a former lover, Lorenzo, whom she’s no longer on great terms with. In fact, at the end of the story, she’s closer with his wife, Costanza, due to the events of gen 2.

Chapter 12 of Heartwood used to include another section in which Lia and Lorenzo had a heart-to-heart about this matter. I actually liked what I had written but at the same time, I realised that the section wasn’t really important to Heartwood. It’s a wrap-up of a storyline from generation 2, not anything that’s really relevant if all you’ve ever read is this side story. I’ve mentioned Lia’s issues with Lorenzo in Heartwood, but in the end the story isn’t so much about Lia getting Lorenzo’s forgiveness as it is about her forgiving herself and realising that she deserves to be cared for and loved. This was never about her old relationship, but about the new one forming with Teo.

This little extra, then, is free of pictures and basically just meant for those who are curious as to how this kind of apology would look and how the “arc” of Lia and Lorenzo’s relationship would have ended. It’s not strictly canon, in the sense that the version you’ll read takes place between the question and answers session and Teo’s proposal. I imagine that down the line, Lia and Lorenzo did have this conversation, but not at this time. So, without further ado – here is Lorenzo’s (cut) apology.

She waved and made to leave, but Lorenzo stayed in place.

“Stanza, could you get the car and let me have a word with Lia?”

They both looked at him and Lia froze. She glanced at Costanza, but her friend just nodded and she did a little motion of encouragement, like they had agreed on this beforehand. Lia wrapped her arms around herself and took a half step back, not entirely by choice.

“I’ll be back in a moment,” said Costanza.

She squeezed Lia’s hand, kissed her husband’s cheek, and walked to the parking lot. Once she was out of hearing range, Lorenzo looked at Lia with eyes that held all sorts of self-consciousness. Lia tightened her hold on herself.

“I uh, enjoyed the book,” he said.

Lia smiled, not wanting to tell him that he had already said so. “I’m glad.”

He continued. “I think the afterword was the best.”

She frowned and it was all she could do not to groan. The afterword was all anyone ever asked about. Here she had written a perfectly informational, interesting book about Teo and his family, and everyone talked about that spur-of-the-moment, nothing paragraph she had added. It hadn’t even been meant for the book when she wrote it, being the simple result of her emotionality getting the better of her. Teo had been at her side when she wrote it, sleeping with his head on her shoulder and something like inspiration struck. It resulted in a sentimental piece that she was already a little tired of talking about.

“It was hardly the most serious piece of journalism,” she told Lorenzo.

“But it was sincere, wasn’t it?”

Lia nodded, admittedly embarrassed. It was one thing to pour out her love to her boyfriend or to the public in the pages of a book, and quite another to do it in front of her former lover. She decided the simple truth was the way to go.

“It was sincere, yes.”

“I could tell. It made me think and… it made me want to say sorry.”

Lia knitted her brows together. “You’re sorry? For what? Trust me, I’m the one who’s sorry for—”

“Just let me, will you?” he said, holding up a hand. “I know I said a lot of stuff to you, about you… using me and never giving anything in return. And I was really mad at the way you treated Stanza. Things weren’t perfect and you definitely hurt me, but I… wasn’t a very good friend.”

She shook her head almost instinctively. Lorenzo’s friendship had always been special to her back in the day. Losing it had been devastating at the time and she was aware it was her own fault.

“You were a great friend. Think of everything you did for me at that time.”

Lorenzo looked away, wincing. “Yeah, but I could have done all of that without, you know… sleeping with you.”

Lia shook her head. “I practically threw myself at you.”

“I could have said no. I should have said no. I was hung up on you for years and I don’t think you would’ve been into me if it wasn’t for the mess you were in.”

She opened her mouth to say that she was into him back then, but no words came out. A knot in her stomach, one she hadn’t noticed until now, loosened as the realisation sank in. Teo’s voice came to her, like a whisper from a year ago.

Not when you’ve been crying. That’d feel weird.

And with it, a vivid memory of herself crying, throwing herself at Lorenzo and him simply letting her.

I don’t know how you can look at someone who’s crying and not want to make them feel better first.

She suddenly felt cold, her heart squeezing in her chest. All this time, after Teo mentioned how wrong it was, she had gone back through time and thought of all her lovers, of all the times they ignored her feelings to satisfy their own, but it never occurred to her to think of Lorenzo that way.

“I… never thought of it that way,” she said.

“No, me neither…” He looked up at her. “I’m ashamed of it. That selfishness. I took advantage of you and then left you in the dust when the guilt got too bad and I just… I couldn’t face it. Couldn’t admit it. Stanza was the one who insisted on befriending you and I begged her not to because I knew I’d have to look at you and feel like a rotten human being. I don’t think I can ever apologise enough for that.”

“We were both young,” she said. “I wasn’t exactly innocent with my lying and cheating. If you can forgive me for all of that and for what I did to Costanza, I can forgive you.”

He nodded. “Costanza forgave you years ago and I think it’s time I do, too. I’m really sorry for what I did.”

He gave her a hug, one that was a little more careful than his wife’s bear hugs. Lia was equally careful in returning it. She couldn’t feel about him the way she had once and in drawing away from him, she felt the distance tangibly and it was so strange. She was comfortable sharing with his wife in a way she didn’t think she would ever be with him again. Perhaps she never had been.

“I’m sorry, too, Lorenzo,” she said and she took a step back just then.

Costanza came rolling up in their car just a moment later and after a quick goodbye, he got in and drove off with his wife. Lia was left on the pavement, her heart light and heavy at the same time. She wasn’t alone long, because Teo came back.

Thanks for going with me on this little journey into what could have been. I don’t regret cutting it. It didn’t make sense to have that as the prelude to the proposal. It would have required Lia and Teo to have some sort of talk about it and it could have been a longer chapter in itself. Eventually, down the line, I think Lia and Lorenzo ended up having this conversation, though I can’t imagine them ever being close again – it did lead to Lia becoming close with Costanza, though, and she ends up being one of Lia’s closest friends.

Now with all that said I did want to comment on the nature of Lia and Lorenzo’s relationship, since the more I thought about it, the more skeevy it was. Lorenzo and Lia got together when she was only twenty-one and Lorenzo around Enzo’s age (so 25 or thereabouts). She was in a vulnerable position, having just accidentally caused someone’s death and on top of that, was being blackmailed and forced into marrying someone she couldn’t stand. It doesn’t matter that she was an adult and a spoiled rich girl, it doesn’t matter that she was cheating on her unwanted fiancé or lying to her big brother – Lorenzo’s actions were still wrong.

Looking back on the treatment of Lia in gen 2, I’m not happy with it. She was created as a prop character, someone I added so that Enzo would have someone to care for. Throughout gen 2, it was basically implied that Lia was only promiscuous because she was lonely and bored and desperate for attention and while it makes sense for her character, there’s also something to be said for the fact that I basically created a female character who was only promiscuous because she was sad – and who stopped being promiscuous after she got better.

I’m not looking to have anyone excuse the way she was written. I can already imagine folks telling me that it’s okay, because it makes sense for Lia’s character and the way she grew up, but that ignores the bigger issues of me being impacted by the culture I live in. Perhaps it does make sense for Lia’s character, but I could have chosen to write her differently from the start. I didn’t have to write Lia as a sad girl who had the implied trait of sleeping around because she was sad.

I also didn’t have to imply in gen 2 that Lia was selfish and bad and treated Lorenzo poorly when, in fact, he started sleeping with her while knowing she was engaged. He participated a relationship at a time when she needed emotional support and the support she really needed was from her brother. If Lorenzo had been a good friend to her (and Enzo for that matter) instead of sleeping with Lia, he would have said ‘Let me just get your brother so he can comfort you.’ The implication in gen 2 was that it was all Lia who was selfish and spoiled and used Lorenzo when he started sleeping with her at a very vulnerable time after he had been pining for her for years. Which is another yikes.

So, this is all to say that I’m learning and trying to think outside of the constraints of the culture I grew up in. It’s slow-going and sometimes these realisations don’t come to me until the end of a story, but I’m getting there and I’m thankful for everyone who comes on this journey with me.

Finally, before I close off this post, I want to thank everyone who dropped comments on the latest chapter. I have read all your comments (several times, in fact) and they make me extremely happy. I haven’t replied to them yet because Saturday I had my second vaccine jab and it just knocked me the fuck out. Had fever and cold shakes all night and felt miserable most Sunday. It’s Monday today and I’m still wiped out enough that I called in sick at work to recover. I plan on replying to your comments, soon, though, as I’m starting to feel a little bit better.

With all of that out of the way, thanks to you if you made it through all this and I hope to see you all for the next (and final) chapter.

Love you all,
Louise

17 Comments

  • Jowita

    I think it’s great that you think about the story so much you can cut out the part that you probably really wanted to add as a hopeless romantic. I know I would have wanted to badly.
    I’ve recently been really into the Legally Blonde franchise and since the musical has a much more developed romantic arc than the movie, I’ve seen some people criticize it for taking away movie‘s central plot point being the main character achieving her success alone, not needing the guy etc. and while I can see it, I still love the musical for being so romantic. But it’s true that it shifted the focus of the story by quite a lot with the main love interest being just a side character with not much screen time in the movie.
    And I wanted to say I appreciate you for putting so much work into it. I could never be bothered because what I think of is what you get and I only ever discarded ideas before writing, lol. No wonder my story is clearly not as thought out as yours who actually do all the editing and stuff. But I guess different things work out for different people and that’s okay. You can’t call what we do serious literature anyway, and it has its pros such as doing what works for us and what makes us feel proud of our story, and not what some publisher would think of it. We have all the freedom and I think it’s really great. And we’re also not professional critics so even if you do write something that doesn’t make too much sense, you as a writer would probably be the only one to even notice and think of it that deeply. I admire you for your strong desire to improve! But then, obviously I think you’re giving yourself such a hard time when it comes to your past writing.
    With that being said, because thinking about all your thoughts I kind of drifted away from the main part of this post, I really enjoyed reading this conversation between them, and I didn’t even think about their relationship being that toxic and Lorenzo being at fault also. At the time you were writing it, I think we all were rooting for Lorenzo and Lia to get together with how you were going with your story. I did think Lia was going to give up all her love affairs and find her love in Lorenzo. I think you score some bonus points (lol) as a writer for not letting it be that obvious and for realizing how toxic that would be. And we got such a heartwarming tale as Heartwood because of that realization ❤️
    And you can’t be blamed for writing Lia that way, really. We’re not going to call you out for slut-shaming. It’s what worked out for Lia, and maybe for some people promiscuity works out better. But I think we’re just hardwired to think that promiscuous ladies are sad and lacking something in life, and it’s a common trope in many stories and rom-coms. I think you showed us something different with Gina who was promiscuous not because she was sad, but because it’s what she wanted to do before settling in with Enzo, so we can clearly see it’s different for your different characters. Don’t feel bad about it, writing’s a learning curve and some stereotypes just stick with us too much! It’s truly hard to have a completely open mind and write something completely new and what wouldn’t hurt anyone (that’s actually impossible because there will always be some displeased people criticizing you for this and that portrayal) and adjust your thinking entirely to our new outlook on certain problems that differs from what our parents, for example, were taught and taught us. We’re all trying, but we can’t let ourselves just blindly believe in that rhetoric that we are blatantly offensive and offending someone with our artistic expression – we always are and we can’t help it, but I think people have become too sensitive these days to some issues. Just because you’ve created a character like Lia who realizes promiscuity was for her just a way to cope with sadness doesn’t mean her existence is offensive in itself and you should apologize for her character just because that’s not what promiscuity is to everyone! It worked out for her character just fine and I don’t think you have anything to apologize for and fret over too much with how you portrayed her.
    I really do hope, Louise, that not only would you try to improve your storytelling, but also your own opinions on your writing and let yourself be more forgiving towards yourself! Please take care ❤️

    • NotJustaBook

      I generally think not including this part in the story proper made sense. We haven’t even seen Lorenzo’s face in the story before this point, so to anyone who are new (and I know there are at least a few who joined when I started Heartwood), it would have been confusing. I did want to include this conversation – it was always my plan to tie a bow on Lia and Lorenzo’s arc/relationship, but this was the wrong place to do it.
      Lia and Lorenzo were definitely supposed to be endgame when I wrote the story, because I didn’t really think much about it at the time. I also didn’t think about the toxicity, really. I remember realising that Lia wasn’t being great to him when someone commented that she didn’t act like she was all that into him, which I agree on in hindsight.
      I can’t really say my stories are generally well thought out. I have a vague idea of where I want things to go, but since I don’t plan anything out beforehand, I often end up changing my mind and going in a different direction. Therefore, I also end up doing a lot of editing. And I know I’m definitely the only one who thinks all this stuff about my story, but I’m generally someone who thinks a lot and analyses a lot, so that’s why I end up thinking about my own stories.
      I hope this post didn’t come across as me hating on myself or being hard on myself. I have a history of being hard on and hating myself (like a lot), but that’s not where this came from at all – I’m in a very different place personally and mentally these days. I wrote the post in a very neutral, analytical mindset. If I’m hard on myself, it’s less as a self-own, and more like I’m writing that part of an academic essay where you reflect on the things you could have done better. The thing is that I want to do better. I’m very motivated to do my best and looking back at these types of issues in my own writing is something I do to hopefully spot these kinds of things in the future before I put pen to paper (or uh… cursor to Word document?). I can’t say I blame myself for creating Lia as a character – it wasn’t deliberate, after all – but I do want to try and avoid this trope in the future. Because while some of my other characters are promiscuous (Gina, Lotta as well, for that matter), I don’t think it necessarily means that the portrayal of Lia isn’t problematic. I honestly don’t blame myself for the way I wrote Lia. I find it extremely interesting that while I am generally fond of and enjoy playing with gender stereotypes (see: Enzo being a cute boyo in distress), I still wrote a fairly stereotypical depiction of a spoiled rich girl who “used” her lover and just wanted to be loved so she slept around. I don’t blame myself for that, just like I don’t blame myself for using plastic straws in the past. I can only reflect on my past actions (like using plastic straws) to try and find out how I can do better in the future (like using my bad ass metal straws).
      I’m actually super uncomfortable with the way I used to write about myself, to the point where I’ve considered removing some of my old author’s notes because they make me sad. I used to think that if I made mistakes or did something wrong, it made me a bad person – that’s not a thing I feel now. I love my writing, flaws and all, and I don’t blame myself for the mistakes. I like looking back at them and reflecting on them. This was less meant as ‘Oh god what have I done I’m so sorry’ and more of a ‘Wow, my brain sure is a weird thing that was influenced by society and hopefully I can subvert this trope in the future!’ I’ve already forgiven myself for this, because it was just a mistake and hopefully one I’ll learn from.
      I really appreciate all the love and that you read all of that and wrote such a long comment. Thanks so much for being such a wonderful, passionate person, Jowita. 💕

      • Jowita

        It definitely made sense not to include it in Heartwood, seeing how Lorenzo wasn’t even a proper character in there.
        You can’t go completely spotless when it comes to stereotypes. These tropes seem to slip through the cracks without us noticing for sure. It’s just second nature when we’ve been culturally fed them since childhood through various forms of culture.
        I was worried about you because I remember you having a history of hating on yourself and being too harsh on your writing, but I’m so glad it’s not the case this time and you were just being analytical. It is sometimes hard to distinguish what place a person is coming from in the writing when you don’t have secondary indicators of their current mood. So I just wanted to make sure you’re okay and it’s not coming of a place of hatred for your story or yourself. Analytical is fine, hating and feeling guilty is not.
        And I tend to cringe on my old author’s notes but it’s sometimes interesting to see how we’ve grown as people and how different we were at the time of writing those to now.
        I was just worried about you, but I’m so relieved that you’ve moved on from these negative emotions now. So happy for you, Louise 💕

        • NotJustaBook

          Yeah, when reading it over a little while ago, I looked and it and felt like it was too much of a weird turn – this guy isn’t even a character. New readers don’t care about him and tbh, I always found it hard to care enough about Lorenzo to give him a personality. 🤣
          Oh absolutely, those tropes and stereotypes are so ingrained in our culture and our brains that it’s no wonder they peek out. I find it interesting, really, and I think a lot about it because I’m really into watching these types of cultural analyses online. 😊
          It’s so sweet of you to care like that and to want to check in. It seriously warms my heart. Thank you so much. 💕 I am generally in a much, much better place these days. I think it mostly goes unnoticed because I used to write all those negative author’s and these days I just… don’t, ha, ha. I think negativity is much easier to see than the absence thereof.
          I think it’s a comfort to see how far we’ve all come. I’m definitely much more happy and comfortable in my own skin. And of course I only feel even better when I have friends around the world like you who care about my wellbeing. 💕💕💕

  • audreyfld

    Joists always says the nicest things! I love her. What more can I add after that heartfelt comment? I have thoroughly enjoyed Lia’s story and he others as well. Thank you for sharing them with us. ❤️. I’m glad you gave us this piece of her story too.

    • Jowita

      Haha, thanks, Audrey. I guess I’ve missed you guys so much I just can’t seem to shut up once I got to commenting again 🤣 And with how sad and reclusive I’ve felt lately, I guess I’m just being a little too vulnerable and sappy and can’t help it, sorry, lol.
      I’ve been thinking how to approach your story, but last time I properly read it it was near the end of Reagan’s story and then I read bits and pieces and kind of know what’s going on at the present time and so I’m not sure where I should actually start catching up, lol.
      Joists seems like a funny nickname🤣

      • audreyfld

        Hehe! That was not meant to pressure you into catching up. I’m on a mini hiatus right now because we are in the middle of moving! But I have no plans to abandon it. I have chapters written but just need to have a minute to get screen shots! And don’t apologize. I love reading your comments! ❤️

        • Jowita

          I know it was not meant to pressure me or anything, it’s just I’ve been thinking how to approach your story for some time since I caught up on Kymber’s recently. But you write soo much I feel a bit overwhelmed, and I know it will be weird to go back when I know all the important stuff that happened much much later 🤣
          Good luck with your move!
          Those comments have just gotten so long lately, I don’t even know how it happens. Guess I’m just bored and don’t have much to do atm lol

    • NotJustaBook

      Jowita is a kind, beautiful person just like everyone else here. I appreciate you all. 💕 I’m glad you enjoy the story as I’ve enjoyed sharing it – and I do enjoy being able to share these little tidbits. There will definitely be more “behind the scenes” (so to speak) once I’ve posted the last chapter. 😁 Thanks for reading, dear! 💕

  • freja64

    Culture is a baggage hard to get away from, but it’s also a treasure to share! I don’t know where I belong anymore, I’ve lived in so many places it all gets mixed up… 🙂 If all your cut bits and pieces are as good as this, go ahead and share, please!

    • NotJustaBook

      Culture is very difficult. There’s a lot to love and appreciate and just as much to change and look upon critically. I totally understand where you’re coming from. We’re even more culturally influenced by other countries and their ideas because of the Internet nowadays, too.
      Aww, thank you, you’re sweet. I can definitely say not all my cut stuff is good. 🤣 But if I find some that make sense to share, I probably will. 😊

  • Lila Remonn

    Thanks for sharing this little cut excerpt and your reflections 😊 For the legacy readers this is a great tying up of a loose end from Lia’s past that we didn’t know we needed. Both of them definitely treated each other badly in their relationship, it’s good that Lorenzo came forward and apologised for his side—a tiny part of her probably would have still blamed herself for the way men treated her, so for her former friend to acknowledge the reality of his behaviour would have made Teo’s point truly sink in.

    I totally understand your sentiments about falling into damaging tropes. Even though many of the obvious ones have departed from mainstream media, there are still underlying ideas that continue subtly enforce perspectives about gender and sexuality. And there’s also lots of discourse on the “right” and “positive” way to represent/write these issues that often straight up contradict each other. Something I’m conflicted over especially in En Pointe is that, in the LGBTQ+ community, there are expectations for how a queer person should act and dress and go about their relationships, in order to be progressive, but also counterarguments saying those expectations are damaging. In these sensitive topics there’s always going to be people agreeing and disagreeing with your portrayal, it’s impossible to navigate representation perfectly. So in the end I try not to agonise over it too much, but yeah, I agree, we are always learning and can try our best to break out of those subconscious attitudes!

    • NotJustaBook

      I was happy to share. 💕 This was definitely mostly for the people who were here for the legacy. 😅 I thought the closure here was nice, but it didn’t quite work for people who are new. I think you’re completely right – she would absolutely still be feeling some guilt. There’s basically a 100% chance that her shitty dad blamed her for being stalked, so she didn’t get it from nowhere. 🤷‍♀️

      Yeah, I can’t really blame myself for the times when I’ve fallen into bad tropes. I don’t think I’m doing terribly, because I generally think A LOT about the implications of different tropes, but there’s no way out of the fact that I will still end up inadvertently falling into harmful stereotypes. And yeah, of course there’s all the contradictions. You’re very right about that – I think all we can really do is try our best and listen if someone is upset or takes offense.

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