Why I write romance

August 25, 2016 Writing  One comment

It came to me in a dream. 

“I write romantic dramas,” I said to my now forgotten dream companion. 

I bolted upright in bed. 

I do write romantic dramas, I realized. Startled by the simplicity of that statement. A piece I’d been missing since I started writing seriously three years ago. 

Romantic drama. That is it exactly. That is my work. 

Romance being defined as a story that has “a central love story and an emotionally satisfying ending.” 

And drama being defined as “serious presentations or stories with settings or life situations that portray realistic characters in conflict with either themselves, others, or forces of nature. A dramatic film shows us human beings at their best, their worst, and everything in-between.”

Drama, technically, is a film word. But it’s all storytelling to me. 

For the longest time (this includes very recently, like last week recently), I’ve been embarrassed to admit I write romance. I’d cringe when people asked me what I wrote and I said, “Fiction. Women’s fiction. Romance.”

Because, as I’ve stated before, I’m not a romantic person. One would not point me out in a line-up as a “girly girl.”  As my husband recently told me, “You dress like a boy.” (It’s true, he said that. It’s also true, sometimes I dress like a boy.) 

I was never boy crazy. Always academically focused. I didn’t even start reading romance until I was 18 years old. And even then, I didn’t realize I enjoyed romance until it was a subplot in an epic fantasy I was reading (I’m indebted to you, Melanie Rawn). 

Now, I love reading romance. New Adult Romance is one of my favorite genres. Second only to fantasy. 

So why was I embarrassed to admit that’s what I write?

Because, wasn’t there something more significant I could be writing about? Something with more depth, more substance, more meaning? 

I worked at Barnes & Noble. I remember the ladies who would come in every week to buy the new Harlequin release. I won’t lie, I judged. (But let’s be real, some of those covers? Those titles? Horrendous.) In a store full of books, out of all the adventures waiting to be had, experiences to be lived, stories that can take you anywhere in the world you could possibly want to go, that’s what you want to read?

I also couldn’t help but feel that I was alienating 75% of the population by classifying myself as a romance writer–the 50% that is male, and the 25% of females who can’t stand the romance genre. (Not to say men can’t read romance, or that they’re less manly for doing so, I just haven’t known any male romance readers. Or at least, any males that will admit to reading romance.)

And this bothered me because I truly feel that anyone can relate to the characters in my books, that anyone can connect to the story. The themes and problems in my stories are pretty universal. 

Are there love interests? Yeah. But ultimately, the stories I write are about another person helping the other overcome themselves. Or their circumstances.

It’s not about one person saving another. It’s not about the daring rescue or the breathless moments. It’s most definitely not about bodice ripping. 

It’s about both people willing to expose their brokenness. And how those jagged, splintered pieces can fit together. It’s about holding the space, holding each other, so that each person can untangle themselves from the depths that entrap them. 

My stories are always threaded with darkness, with drama, with psychological elements. Yes, it’s about romance. But it’s also about so much more than romance. 

It wasn’t until recently (before the aforementioned dream), that I read a post over on Jami Gold’s blog (one of my go-to writing resources), “What Does Your Genre’s Theme Promise to Readers?” that I understood what the romance genre is actually all about and why I write it: 

Happiness.

Specifically, that happiness is possible.

The romance genre promises that no matter how broken you are, no matter how fucked up, or how much you’ve fucked up, happiness is possible. It promises that you can overcome your past, overwrite the bleakness of your future, and be happy. 

You don’t have to be your alcoholic mother, your abusive father, your dysfunctional home. You don’t have to be destined to recreate that.

You can be held, seen, heard, cherished, loved. You can go on to be whole and fulfilled. Get married (or don’t), make babies (or don’t), grow old together (probably a do). 

Even if you’re convinced that’s not for you, that you don’t need anyone else, the need to be loved is biological. You can no more deny yourself the need to belong to another, to be connected to another, than you can deny yourself the need for oxygen.

Coupling, mating, reproducing is a biological imperative. You can’t really escape the desire.

I mean, come on, even Bones falls in love and has babies. 

Romance says that you deserve to be happy. That to be loved for who you are is your right

Of course, there are other good things about the romance genre–sex positive attitudes, female empowerment, equality in relationships, etc. It’s a world that’s created by women, for women, about women. And I love that. And I love that happiness is what is at the heart of it.

Happiness is the why. 

And if in the process, I get to break shit and go all dark and dramatic, empower women, and overthrow the patriarchy … well, all the more fun for me. 

 

Until next time, farewell & may your life never cease to be filled with wonder and curiosity.

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One comment to Why I write romance

  • […] Romance as a genre is so moving and powerful because it draws on our strongest, most intense emotions. And emotions are the heart of life. […]

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