Books·How I Wrote It

Why Kelli Korducki wrote a history of relationship breakups — after going through one herself

The author and cultural critic on why she wrote Hard To Do, a feminist history of romance and gender dynamics in the modern world.
Kelli Korducki is a journalist and author of Hard To Do. (Coach House Books)

Kelli Korducki is a journalist and cultural critic. In her book, Hard To Do, Korducki explores what it means to be in a contemporary romantic partnership — specifically the politics and economic implications around a breakup.

The origins of the book are based on personal experience — after going through a relationship breakup of her own, Korducki wanted to research the complex history of romantic partnerships, marriage, divorce and the socioeconomic dynamics between men and women in today's world.

Korducki tells CBC Books on how she wrote Hard To Do.

Endings and beginnings

"I was going through a relationship breakup about four years ago and it inspired the book. I felt it was more than just a breakup story —  the questions I found myself wanting to find answers to had nothing to do with romance. I did not want Hard To Do to be a memoir. I wanted to legitimize the idea that we should think about our relationships and the decisions we make while we are in them. The book is an historically grounded argument about the nature of what it means to be a woman through a relationship breakup — and what it means to break up." 

The bedrock of society

"I was seeing some of my friends get married and have kids, while other friends were increasingly fed up with the politics of dating. The topics of relationships and romance are often treated in a light and jocular manner — almost like it's too self-indulgent to even think about. But when you get right down to it, at the heart of a family structure are two people that started the partnership. That's the bedrock of our society. To shrug or laugh it off like it's a frivolous thing is shortsighted." 

Passionate perspective

"I was influenced by a 2016 book called Labor of Love by Moira Weigel. It's about the cultural invention of dating. She [writes about] how the rise of capitalism created the circumstances for a new culture of dating to emerge. I was fascinated by that perspective and felt it was an approach that was under-explored.

"My big fear was that my book would come off as too academic or dry and humourless. I wanted to write a book that was informative and was grounded in research and history. But I also wanted to write a book that was understandable for a total layperson — and not boring." 

Kelli Korducki's comments have been edited and condensed.

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