I had a little epiphany the other day. Someone posted a comment about romances on another blog and I said something like, “Oh, you’re judging all romances by one” or whatever. And I was actually a little irked. Not a lot irked, but a little irked.
Then I saw that article I linked to (which is turning up everywhere, btw.) And I started thinking about it. Cue epiphany.
Why do I care if someone thinks romances are crap? Why do I care of someone thinks they’re easy to write, or dull, or stupid, or Not Real Books?
In other words, why do the opinions of the rude and pretentious matter to me?
A lot of people I know were pleased with that article. They thought this might be a step towards getting romances somehow recognized as art or something. And you know, that’s fine. If it’s important to them, that’s fine. But for me it’s a little like being good in bed. As long as the person who shares that activity with me (that would be my husband) is pleased, I don’t care what people I’ve never slept with think about my performance.
And ultimately, I do believe all this “We’re serious artists” stuff is bad for romance. Why? Because, as I said the other day, romances should be fun.
I think there are a lot of people who are trying so hard to prove that romances are smart and well-written and Worthy of Serious Consideration, that they’ve forgotten to write fun stuff. I’ve read some dull-as-dishwater romances, believe me. And I really think this is the reason why.
Romances have gotten so politically correct. So safe. So bland! You rarely see, for example, heroines who throw china and heroes who punch holes in walls and people who scream at each other and then start kissing and have angry, tearful sex on jets flying to their private island, where they’ll connive to take over the corporation of some hapless fool who is the heroine’s real father but she doesn’t know it. Or whatever.
Part of this may be because such characters became a little cliche by about the early nineties (although one thing that does piss me off is when current writers pick on those 70′s romances. Those writers had it a lot harder than we do, writing on typewriters all day and not having communities or blogs or email. They were published authors in an age where a woman having a career that she cared about was still an anomaly. So quit talking about how much better you are than those hacks, okay? Or how dumb and cliche their books were. They paved the way for you, and you should have some respect.) Part of it may be simply that such stories aren’t fashionable at the moment-market trends do change. But I firmly believe there are a lot of women out there who are bored by the romances coming out now, who would jump all over something like that were it published now. Something big and blowsy and fun. Like The Crimson Petal and the White was touted as being before we all read it and realized it wasn’t that sexy at all, not was it especially fun, and the ending sucked.
I think this is why paranormals have become so big. Because vampires are allowed to be sort of smooth and sexist (mmmm). Werewolves are allowed to be rude alpha males (in fact, it’s pretty much a requirement, isn’t it?) Erotic romance is part of this, too. Lots of action, lots of sex, lots of excitement. Not page after page of the heroine’s crusade to help the poor, or whining about the man who left her when she got pregnant, or whatever.
The point is, I’m tired of hearing about and reading about and seeing articles about how romance writers should be taken seriously and look how good these books are and what modern topics they cover. I realize it’s necessary in some places to keep new readers coming into the fold. But the people who we seem to be trying so hard to impress are never going to care. They just won’t. A romance could win a Pulitzer and they’ll still say romance is crap. So why bother? Why not just say, “Yeah, and lots of people love reading my crap, so there.”
Let’s all try it, shall we? Let’s be proud to write fun stuff, to write books people enjoy reading.
It’s like that guy Miss Snark overheard talking about his Life of the Mind. Screw you, you pretentious weed. It’s probably easy to live a life of the mind when nobody wants to talk to you because your head is so far up your own ass you’re practically a gordian knot.
People like that aren’t worth my time, and they shouldn’t be worth yours.
So bring on Lady Sheba St. John and her mortal enemy, the handsome Lord Devlin, and their forbidden passion!