Our genre, whether we’re readers of it or writers of it, often gets very little respect. I could go on about how sad that is. How it’s a sad commentary on our society that love and reading about love is so easy to devalue. How it’s disturbing that Saw V (or whatever…and the fact that the movie exists and that there are several of them…) gets an R rating for depicting a woman being cut in half, while Blue Valentine is NC-17 for Ryan Gosling giving a woman oral sex.
Yes, I could go on about that. At length.
But instead I’m just going to answer the question: Why romance?
When I became a mother, I found I didn’t enjoy the TV shows I used to enjoy. I saw an episode of CSI where a baby was killed and I could never watch the show again. I used to read a lot of inspirational fiction, which certainly has merit, but after reading one too many where the woman lost her husband and all her children, or a baby was suddenly killed by a bee sting toward the end, I lost my taste for that as well.
That’s when I discovered Harlequin Romances. I knew they were ‘safe’. I knew it would end well. I knew they would end up together.
I don’t live in denial of life. I know how life is. Life is hard. Marriages end. People you love die. The son that is so perfect to you is diagnosed with autism. That last one is personal to me, and I know a lot of you know that.
If I’m going to step into another world for a few hours, I want to be uplifted. I want to see that no matter how bad things get, and that even if bad things happen, everything is really okay at the end.
As a writer, if I’m going to spend MY LIFE in these other worlds, then I will make them worlds filled with beautiful things. With characters who overcome ugliness with love. With handsome men and great sex and multiple orgasms and the kind of love that lasts for ever and I will NOT apologize for that.
It isn’t wrong to want to read that. It isn’t wrong to want to write it. Sadness isn’t superior to a happy ending. Hatred and violence are not more acceptable than love and sex. They shouldn’t be. And yet in our culture, I think often that’s how it’s perceived.
We as a culture fear sex more than violence. We elevate a commentary on the futility of life above books that depict the beauty in life. And as a result, those of us who love the romance genre are delusional for wanting a happy ending. Unrealistic for wanting a man who treats us like a human being and gives good foreplay.
Why romance? It reminds of the wonderful things in this world. It reminds me how fortunate I have to have my own personal hero. It reminds me of the rush of falling in love, and makes me want to recapture it…with the man I’m married to.
And simply? I choose to read and write romance because I love it. Really, that should be good enough.