I’m a rereader. Did you know that? I like to revisit books that haunt me, touch me in some amazing way. And I reread “Rough Canvas” by Joey W. Hill more than a lot of other books I own.
This time, as I was delving into the story again, I tried to figure out why this book speaks to me.
On the surface, the story of Marcus and Thomas seems to be about two men who struggle to love each other in the face of familial disapproval and dark secrets from the past. Deeper down, I think the story is about trust and faith in one’s self as well as the person you love.
But that isn’t why I reread it.
For me, I fall in love with Marcus Stanton over and over for one reason. He loves Thomas and he fight for Thomas’s dream, his soul. It’s that absolute commitment that Marcus has to Thomas’s gift as an artist that stabs me in the heart. Everyone needs a Marcus, that person who protects and defend the dream of the person they love. As an author, this has special meaning to me. I want that belief, that support that will hold me up when I don’t have faith in my own talent. Marcus is willing to allow his own heart to be broken into a million brittle pieces as long Thomas paints. He sees Thomas’s soul in the art that he paints. Marcus is, and always will be, the protector of Thomas’s soul even when Thomas himself doesn’t protect it.
It’s that overwhelming insistence that Marcus has that Thomas paint, that he honor the gift he was given that drives me back to this story and these characters. To be believed in, to be loved that much, it’s what I want and hope for.
Maybe it means more to me because recently, I became discouraged enough to say aloud something that had been in my brain for two years.
“Maybe I should just quit writing.”
And I said them to the one person who I thought would agree with me. After all, my husband bears the burden of a writer’s quirks and frustrations, the business confusion and the constant distraction. But he, in true Marcus form, frowned at me and told me that I should never let money and life get in the way of writing. I’ve often despaired that my husband doesn’t support my writing. And sure, there’s tons of times he looks at me like I’m an alien with tentacles, but he recognizes the same thing that Marcus saw in Thomas.
I have to write.
The thing I love about “Rough Canvas” is that there’s an element of spiritual connection-family, sex, dreams-all these factors of the characters Thomas and Marcus that combine to create a canvas of its own.
I could read the epilogue again and again. To discover love, to hold another’s soul and cherish it, to forgive and face the future together, that’s what having a relationship is all about.
And yeah, it’s hard to hang onto in the face of mortgages, health issues, teenagers and taxes, but that’s why books like this one exist in my opinion. They serve as markers, reminders of the true connection that can exist between two human beings.
The connection is everything.