I've read a lot of opinions lately about romance, and some of them seem a bit - off. I don't intend to cite them here, both because:
- I don't want to lend some kind of implied legitimacy to their claim, and
- This blog is about why I write romance. I can't pretend to answer for all romance writers.
Just the romance writers who are also awesome, amazing bats.
I didn't grow up reading romance novels. This is, I understand, somewhat odd in the romance writer's world. In fact, it's probably odd in general. A lot of young women read romance novels. Most of the girls I knew did, anyway.
I didn't have time with that. I was reading Serious Fiction. Science fiction and fantasy, mostly, but obviously literary masterpieces which were far superior to anything featuring a burly man in a tartan.
Of course, since I read constantly, I would run out of books to read, and I'd occasionally venture into my mother's stash of romance novels. This was out of necessity, of course. I wasn't reading them because I enjoyed stories about love and loss, betrayal and redemption, no no. I was just desperate for any book at the time, you see.
You believe me, right?
Years later, I was working on a story, and I realized I had created a love triangle with no real knowledge of how to write one of those. Sure, there were several novels I'd read which had complex romantic situations, but not enough for my comfort.
I've always been a researcher. I was that kid who needed just a little bit of reference material from the library and walked out with a four foot high stack of books - the perfect amount for my two-page paper.
So when I needed to know more, and came up empty on books to read for my love triangle, I panicked.
That was when my mother handed me a stack of books from her shelf. Romance novels. The horror.
Those books sat on my shelf for almost a year, while I struggled and cursed and eventually just gave up and munched a bucket of crickets. Then I rearranged my bookshelves one day and rediscovered the novels.
I should really get these back to mom, I thought. Okay, I'll just read one, and that way I can tell her I tried them and it didn't work.
Then I dove into the first book. And the next book. Before I came out of my book-reading haze, I was on Amazon buying more e-books from the same authors. This was when I realized something which had somehow eluded me for years.
Romance novels are fun.
I'd spent so long thinking of writing a novel as an important work of art, and never considered that maybe I was getting in my own way about this whole reading thing. Naturally, my next thought was maybe I was getting in my own way about writing, too.
So I started writing romance. That was fun too. Now I make a point to write or read a little of it every day, because it makes me happy. Happier than I ever was trying to write the Book of the Century.
That's what reading and writing romance is all about, for me. It makes me happy. And that's something special