Midlife Crisis

It’s taken me a while to get around to this one—but I’m glad it did because the events of the past twelve months have subtly reshaped my thoughts on this, another favorite trope: the midlife crisis.

If you’re at all familiar with my books, you’ll know that I love writing about middle age—about characters who have already lived, loved, and lost… and are ready to do it all again (maybe with less loss this time around). In fact, that’s pretty much the central theme of This Time Forever where the romantic plots are concerned, but also in regards to the characters’ lives. Without exception, they’re all stuck in place and more than ready for something new.

I totally get it. I’ve been there over the past couple of years, too. Stuck. And now that I’m moving forward, I’m more than ready to share this trope and these books with you!

Let’s start with the This Time Forever series.

All three books feature characters who are going through some sort of crisis. For Charlie, it’s simply parenting a teenager. Simon’s crisis is career related—he loves his profession, but not his current focus. Simon’s best friend Frank is in a similar position. His career trajectory has stalled and it’s not until he reunites with Tom, the one who got away, that he discovers a new direction. Tom’s been in a holding pattern for so long, he’s forgotten how to move forward. Thankfully, Frank is there to help.

This brings us to the final book in the series, Chasing Forever. Oh, Brian. Author confession here—Brian is one of my favorite characters. He wasn’t supposed to be but my characters rarely follow their briefs. And his and Mal’s book is the one I pick up most often when I want to read something I’ve written.

Brian’s redemption arc could fill a post all on its own, but to get back to the topic of midlife crises—Brian was right there. Lost, alone, and unfulfilled. Meeting Mal was the best thing that could ever have happened to him. Without Mal’s influence, he could not have grown the way he did. Nor would he have been able to provide the care his nephew Josh needed.

Mal, too, was stuck in place. He wasn’t quite down and out, but he definitely had issues to overcome. He knew he might never run again, and that once more, the trajectory of his life had been changed. Meeting Brian helped him define a new path—and to walk that road bravely.

My new series, Hearts & Crafts, delves perhaps even more deeply into midlife crisis territory—particularly in the first book where Oliver, quite literally, suffers from a classic midlife quandary. Let go from his job, he struggles not only to find new employment but to justify what he’s even been doing for the past twenty years.

Grayson’s story, though, in Shelf Life, really takes the cake. His book starts with a devastating wake-up call as his heart tries to pack up and quit on the busiest day ever. Though I found another angle on the title of this book while writing it, the first was—and for me, always will be—a sort of dark irony. We all have a limited shelf life. So, what are we going to do until then? Sit there and wait for it to happen? Or live as fully as we can?

I like to think Gray’s crisis helped him get off the shelf, so to speak, and choose a direction he finds both exciting and fulfilling. Aaron, too, as he wrestles with the difference between what his family wants for him, and what he wants for himself.

So many of my books explore this same theme—When Was the Last Time, Out in the Blue, the two series I’ve mentioned here, and even the Let’s Connect books. Am I done with this trope? Have I written it to completion?

Maybe. It would be interesting to write about characters who are super satisfied with their current state of being… but also kinda boring, don’t you think?

Previous posts in this series:
Friends to Lovers
Second Chances

Cover image created with Canva.

Published by Kelly Jensen

Writer of love stories. Bibliophile. Gamer. Hiker. Cat herder. Waiting for the aliens. 👽 🏳️‍🌈

2 thoughts on “Midlife Crisis

  1. Write what makes you happy – one of the things I enjoy so much about your books is the fact you write about more mature people who have been around the block a few times – those are still pretty rare in romance, and even moreso in m/m which seems to be dominated by navel-gazing twenty somethings and college age protagonists, which are not, generally, my thing.

    1. I do love writing older characters. Somewhat because I identify so readily with them but also because, yeah, we don’t see enough of them! Whatever direction I take next, I’m fairly certain the age of my characters won’t change all that much. 🙂

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