It’s Not Always Romantic

People ask me what I do. I say, “I’m an author.” Their face lights up, they’re interested. “Wow,” they say, “what do you write?”


“I write paranormal romance.”


Their eyes instantly glaze over. That look of fascinated wonder turns to bewilderment. I expect a drop of drool to escape any second as their face falls into a fugue. “Oh, that’s wonderful. So do you have any children?” Desperate suddenly to escape the topic, they will ask me any array of strange questions following that one.


There are writers out there that give us a bad name, we poor romance novelists. Some of them don’t have editors. After all, it’s romance, right? What do you need an editor for? You know, that one woman wrote this or that, and she got published. She’s a New York Times Bestseller, and she obviously never had an editor!


Yes. Thank you very much. You are astute beyond your manners.


This is part of what it means to be a romance writer. Some of your fellow writers betray you by ignoring the basic tenets of good writing (editing and proofreading). Some publishers and those NYT people betray you by elevating the same people who have betrayed the basic tenets of good writing. People look at you like you’re some sort of strange three-legged creature from the purple lagoon.


Spouses (or in my case, ex’s), rarely support such a peculiar (and naturally meaningless) endeavor. Those whose spouses or partners do support you, count your blessings, please! The rest of us are counting them with envy.


I could write pretty decent Fantasy. I could write a biography–I know many people who are constantly being told, “You should write a book [about your life]” who would be thrilled for me (or anybody besides themselves) to write their book. I could write an auto-biography. People tell me all the time, “You should write a book [about your life].”


But this is what I want to do. This is my dream and my passion. Writing about love, writing about that magic that sometimes happens between two people, when they actually forget about themselves for a while and become “other” focused… that’s my choice. And I have loyalty and even fidelity to it.


It’s not romantic in the same way that love itself often isn’t romantic. And sometimes, writing romance is like living in one… things can go wrong. Sometimes radically wrong. You may find yourself sitting in front of a white OpenOffice document, staring at it while it tells you, “I’m over this. I’m not doing it anymore.”


But you get to choose. In a romance, the other person gets to choose, because there are two of you. In writing, though, it’s me and the novel. And I get to say, “Well, I’m not giving up.” You get to make the choice for both of you–you and your novel.


It’s different because a novel isn’t like a man. It doesn’t get to decide to beat feet. You can sit on your novel and beat its face in. Hint: Do that to a man, and you’ll likely go to jail. You can scream at your novel and swear at it, and nobody says you’re abusing it.


Some days, you have to finesse your novel. You have to smile at it and wheedle it and beg it. You have to close your eyes and imagine again and again until you can write the words. You get as many second chances as you give yourself… the novel doesn’t walk away. It doesn’t yell back.


It just sits there, a big white blur on your computer screen, until you put your glasses back on.


And that, my friend, is where you readers come in. Knowing that you’re waiting, knowing that you’re looking forward to this novel drags the words, kicking and screaming, from the depths of my subsconscious where they reside in perpetual enshroudment.


Your expectation and your desire to read the next book pushes me to put my glasses back on and put fingers to keyboard.


I take a deep breath and continue because I have fidelity towards you. The long-term relationship I have with romance writing keeps on going because you’re out there. This is what I do, and you are who I do it for.


It’s not always romantic, that’s true. But romance has its place in the world. It brings us comfort and it keeps the hot chocolate sellers in business. For that reason, I must endeavor to continue!

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