I recently had the opportunity to attend an event for writers. As in the case of any event for writers I’ve attended, I was excited to be there.
Until the inevitable happened.
Someone used “romance” as an insult.
The event catered to writers of every genre, beginners as well as some vets. In discussing a piece of work, one of the participants said, “It was well written. I expected it to be more like a romance. Or even a Harlequin.”
When it came time to introduce ourselves, I looked that person in the eye and let him know I was a romance author. I glimpsed a bit of shame there, I’m happy to report.
Come on, fellow writers. It’s bad enough romance authors get dissed on a constant basis by fans of other genres. Do we really need to get these slaps in the face from other writers, people who understand our struggle? Of all people, you know what goes into writing a book. You understand the pain and sacrifice and sweat. You know how we bleed. You know how we cry when our characters do exactly what we need them to do.
You get it.
And yet some of you still insist on badmouthing an entire genre. Why? “Oh, I read a romance back in the 1970s and it was pure rubbish.” Perhaps it’s time for an update, fella.
Oh, and by the way, some of you take issue with romance as a whole, but have no problem asking romance authors for favors. It happens to me all the time. I’ve been asked for favors by several wannabe authors who have no interest in my work or in my genre. They were just looking to cash in on a potential contact in the industry.
“You’re published? Well, romance really isn’t my bag but would you be willing to critique my manuscript? You know, seeing as you’re a published author. By the way…do you know any published non-fiction authors? Could you introduce me?”
Talk to the hand, as they say.
I don’t mean to sound bitter but I’m growing tired of hearing the same recording over and over. Romance isn’t “real” writing. It’s fluff. It’s easy to write. It’s formulaic.
I’ve never followed a “formula” in my entire writing career. The only hard and fast rule I follow is providing a happy ending. If you don’t, you’re not writing romance and romance readers will let you know it.
I’ve always found the writing community to be an inviting and supportive one. Not everyone resorts to this bad behavior. Have an opinion, by all means, but if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all. And certainly don’t say it at an event attended by writers of every genre.
As for the romance authors out there, we won’t waste our time badmouthing you.
Why? Because, darling, we’re too busy writing the stories the world is reading. Have you heard we’re one of the highest selling genres out there? No? Well, now you know.