Earlier last week, I connected via Facebook with a reader who told me my book made her cry. Several times, and that she wasn’t ordinarily a crier. This in turn, made me cry, and was such a joy to hear. Knowing a reader connected with your work, that she was moved to the point of tears. I can’t tell you how wonderful that made me feel, and I had a permanent smile on my face that entire next day. It made all the blood, sweat, tears, doubts, and anxiety worth it.
Fast forward to later in the week, and things took a turn. I’m sure my friend meant no harm, but the conversation began when she told me her stylist writes children’s books. I said I couldn’t picture myself being a kid’s author; it’s not my thing. She said, jokingly, and something to the affect of: “Well, you can’t just have them jumping into bed you know.” Wow. All righty then. What do you say? I mean I’ve had to defend the romance genre since I began writing almost twenty years ago, and I’m sure the battle will never stop, but I’ll be blunt here. I was pissed, and mostly, I was hurt. In that moment that comment cheapened what I do. Writing is never ending and mentally, and physically draining. It’s more taxing on the body than I could ever imagine. This is what I wanted, ugly parts and all. And don’t get me wrong I thoroughly enjoy what I do, but when folks make jokes they think are funny, it is hurtful. When I put words down on paper, I am, in a sense, baring my heart and soul. I’m putting everything into my work.
Writing is not easy. Creating something out of nothing, can sometimes feel like pulling teeth, one at a time, without anesthesia to numb the pain, and depending on the scene I’m writing, it can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Oftentimes, I avoid heart wrenching, hard to write scenes for that reason. Because I know it will be hard to write, and hard for my character(s) to go through. Eventually I force myself to get to the keyboard, otherwise the voices clamoring, and fighting for attention, never stop. Writers spend most of our time alone, with nobody except our characters to keep us company. Unless I’m suffering a brain blockage, I enjoy what I do. I love, and hate, the way it makes me feel, but I’m a lifer, a word addict. So, yes, it upsets me when someone makes snide remarks, because it’s not all about “jumping into bed” and romance novels are not “trashy romance novels.” (That’s another one I’ve heard, and I did say something to this woman). It’s about two people falling in love. It’s about emotion, hence the “feels,” that readers tell me they get.
Sex is part of the books I write, yes. It’s part of the hero and heroine’s story, but it is not the entire journey. Romance is more than sex; romance is the flutters in the belly, the first time they meet, the anticipation of the blossoming feelings between them. Their first kiss, the first time they realize they’ve fallen in love with each other. The odds they must face, together, to get there happily ever after. Reaching someone, touching another human being with words, with people in your imagination. The two of them falling in love, even as circumstances try to keep them apart. For the writer to hear “Your book made me cry,” or “I couldn’t put your book down,” or “I can’t wait for your next book.” When I hear and see these comments, it brings everything full circle.
My goal is to capture these emotions, to capture the love between them, and get it down on paper. My goal is to make people feel something when they read my book. Romance does get a bad rap, and I have no control over what ignorant minded people say, but I do have control over how their remarks make me feel. The “feels” and lovely comments I get from my readers are much more rewarding, and I’m going to choose to focus on those instead.
Facebook: Rose Lange, Author