I’m going to admit that I haven’t done many things that are “typical”. I didn’t pretend not to be smart just to impress a boy. I didn’t sneak makeup in my book bag and put it on at school. And I never pilfered romance novels from my mother’s nightstand.
The first one no doubt had to do with being a middle child and always trying to prove myself to my older siblings. There was no way I was ever going to look dumb in front of them. And the second two things on the list were definitely influenced by Mom herself. My mom’s really pretty and I don’t remember her wearing makeup. So the whole thing was a non-issue in my house. There was no one saying I could or I couldn’t, so why rebel? The whole makeup thing seemed like a huge hassle in my opinion. And then there are the books. My mom was a reader. She took 4 and 5 books out of our little library every week and carried them home. She was pleased as punch when we picked one up and thumbed through it. I can’t say for sure when my love of reading began, but by the time I hit middle school I was reading adult books … including romances.
Of course I’m old enough to admit they weren’t half as hot as they are now. But then again, it was scandalous when I was watching a movie at the theater and the F-bomb was dropped. Everything’s changed, especially acceptable heat levels of our entertainment. (Even more so after the meteoric rise of “mommy porn”>)
Anyway, reading was reading in our house. Ididn’t know it was considered taboo to read romance novels. I blissfully carried my Danielle Steel books around high school, happily reading in English class or at recess. (Yes, I was one of those geeks.) But the next week I’d be just as likely to be reading an Isaac Asimov novel during my down time. I wasn’t really picky … I just wanted an engaging story.
Now let’s fast forward to middle age. Now I’m writing. And I’m writing romance. *GASP* Oh, the intellectual horror! NOW I find out that romance is looked down upon? NOW I find out that only old maids with no love prospects or a sex life read romance? NOW I discover that my GPA in school is supposed to determine what genre I read? Where the hell have I been?
Well, let me tell you … in my life time, only one jerky writing professor told me that romance was garbage. (And since I took his class after I’d been teaching for nearly 20 years, I have the right to call this guy an asshat! He wasted our money with that class. Not bothering to teach novel writing fundamentals in a “Fiction Writing” class. So I don’t really give him any credibility anyway. Ah, but I digress …) The point is, I never heard what a bad rep romance had until I started writing it. By then … I was too old to give two hoots what anyone thought of my genre choice.
And I guess you wonder why I mention this today. Well, the fact is, many of my fellow cohorts have been interviewed or asked to write pieces about love and romance for Valentine’s Day. This is the day to celebrate what we write. But I ask … shouldn’t the romance genre be appreciated every day of the year? Shouldn’t romance writers, like writers of other genres, be viewed as talented artists and not formulaic cutouts of tired story lines? Shouldn’t we be celebrated every day of the year? Well, of course we should. We bleed words on to the page like every horror, mystery, science fiction or young adult author out there. We push through writer’s block to make deadlines just like other professional writers.
Please don’t just look to our skills and insights on this day because it’s meant for lovers. Seek us out in November when you’re sick of turkey and need some ways to spice up your cooking (LOTS of romance chapters on that subject.) Call upon us in January when you need a passage or two to warm a cold winter night. Seek us out in July and we’ll help you rekindle some personal fireworks.
Trust me when I say romance is a year-round genre. Who doesn’t want to be in love 24/7/365?