I was talking with my family yesterday about my writing and my cousin said ‘Why write romance?’ When I told her that romances are great and very popular, she replied ‘There’s lots of sad, desperate women in the world.’
Now, my cousin doesn’t mince words. No one in this family does, but I was a little offended that she thought sad, desperate women are the only ones who read romance. It was on the tip of my tongue to start spouting off statistics about the education level of women who read romance, but didn’t want to waste my breath.
I know that most of the world view women who read romance as sad, desperate women who are either: lonely housewives, bitter divorcees, old maids, or grandmothers. I’m sure they read romance as well, but I know a lot of women who are successful, educated to the nine’s, beautiful women in loving, secure relationships who also read romance. I also know this is an ongoing struggle withing the romance writing community. It shouldn’t be.
From this weekend, I met a lot of fellow pre-published and published authors (my first conference) and found them to be funny, outgoing, smart women. They’re confident and make no apologies for what they write, as it should be. You don’t see Stephen King apologizing for writing horror novels and no one seems to expect people who read his books to be closet serial killers.
It’s a shame there’s such a stigma associated with the genre when it’s the fastest growing genre in the country. So either there are a lot of sad, desperate women in the country, or more and more people are drawn to these stories. And why not? With a romance, you’re almost guaranteed a happy ending, a resolved conflict, and the hope that love really does conquer all. Who doesn’t want that?
It isn’t like all romance these days is of the ‘oh dearest, I love you and only you and we will never fight and have many children together’ variety. Today’s heroines are smart, tough, and don’t wait around for the hero to save them. It’s a reflection of the new wave of feminine confidence that our mothers fought for in the 60′s. We’ve embraced our sexuality, are confident in our abilities to take care of ourselves and we want to read about heroines who feel the same. But the stigma remains. It’s truly sickening.
So what do I say to people who think romance is for the lonely, sad, and depressed? Well, if it’s a man, I’ll tell him ‘Maybe you should read a romance before you make any assumptions. You might learn a few things’ (and hand him The Darkest Whisper by Gena Showalter) and if it’s a woman, I’d say ‘What’s so wrong with a little peace, love, and understanding?’ (and give her a copy of Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers).
Love is the universal language. The job of the romance writer is to ensure that the Happily Ever After is so satisfying that the reader is left with a feeling of good will towards their fellow person.
Viva la romance!!!