There are days—like today—when I find myself on the receiving end of…
It’s the one people lay on me after learning what I do for a living—more specifically, the fact that I write…
Wait for it…
It’s a look that evolves from…
Are you serious?
No, you can’t be serious.
Holy @#%&, you ARE serious.
Oh, how cute. You actually think you’re a REAL writer.
And, to further drive the spike into my already fragile ego, a saccharine-laced response usually piggybacks “the look,” something along the lines of…
“Those books are okay to read if you don’t want to think too much.”
Unfortunately, this perplexing (and rather unwarranted) romance-is-a-subpar-genre attitude is something I’ve been running into for as long as I can remember.
There’s an assumption shared by many that neither effort nor intelligence is required to write romance novels and that their pages contain nothing but embarrassingly sappy drivel. And if you actually read them, then God help you, because you’d better be armed with one mother of a justifiable reason—namely, your brain needing a sabbatical.
Personally speaking, I can tell you that reading and writing romance has nothing to do with a lack of creative depth or an unhealthy penchant for heaving bosoms and quivering loins.
By the way, 99.999% of romance imprints did away with those terms eons ago.
Fact: Romance consistently wins out as the best-selling literary genre…by a landslide.
Yet, ironically, it comes up the rear in terms of respect and credibility…which, if I’m being frank, kind of steams my clams.
Whether or not people admit it, they’re reading romance and lots of it. So, you know what I say?
When you’re engaged in bookish chit-chat with someone who asks you, “Why romance?” you can fire back with a simple, but effective…
Then point them in the direction of a book like Pride and Prejudice and I’ll bet they never ask you that question again.
The one thing I love most about voracious romance readers is that they…just…get it. If you’re reading this right now, then chances are, you do too.
And I am so grateful to have you along!
Of course, I’m not suggesting that everyone should go gaga over romance novels, because as we all know, art in its various forms is subjective. What one gets off on the other may yawn over. It’s a matter of personal preference.
Even as a self-proclaimed sucker for all things swoon-worthy, I still enjoy dipping my eyeballs into horror, mystery, suspense, and fantasy.
Stephen King, if you’re reading this, I love you!
(Who am I kidding? There’s no chance in hell he’s reading this.)
What I’m saying is that romance deserves equal inclusion as a legitimized, stigma-free genre among its industry counterparts.
Does that mean all romance novels are worth critical acclaim? Heck no. There are some sucky ones out there for sure. But do other genres have their own share of craptastic representation? You betcha.
Again, if you follow this blog, then I’m probably preaching to the choir. Maybe you’re actually a romance writer yourself. If so, then you’re also familiar with “the look.”
There will always be people who don’t understand, or even want to, and that’s okay. Because the rest of us know that with the romance genre, there is so much more than meets the eye upon that curious first glance. It’s the type of fiction that gets into your mind and stays there, the type that explores love and intimacy from within the intricate tapestry of the human condition. It inspires hope—and yes, even change. So…
Whether you read it…or create it…
I hope it inspires you too.
If you’re proud to be a romance fan, let me know by leaving a comment. I’d love to hear from you!
Copyright © S. A. Healey
Image source: flickr.com – Tsahi Levent-Levi, artist