Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Are We Possessed?
Last Saturday I attended Beverly Barton’s book signing for her new novel "Don’t Cry." As a member of Heart of Dixie, I am proud of each and every one of our members when they have a book coming out - whether it’s their first or their seventieth. Other HOD members came and we sat at the coffee shop talking as Beverly greeted her fans and signed books.
I watched those women eagerly discussing plot lines and their latest story ideas , so animated, and I began wondering why we write romance. I mean, every one of them have other careers and training in different fields – what made them choose the difficult path of writing in such a highly competitive business? Family, husbands, illnesses, tragedies – all affect us, distracting our attention and yet, we all eagerly escape to our little writing warren and lose ourselves in our latest story ideas. WHY?
The general public has no idea how difficult it is to birth a story, to give it life and dimension, and then put it out there to be criticized (sometimes unfairly) in the hopes of being published. The perception that a romance writer is a lonely, single woman sitting in a cozy bungalow, surrounded by cats, spinning fantasy about how love should be is about as far from the truth as saying you’re healthy as a horse (Horses are about the sickest creatures on this earth – I wonder how they have survived evolutionary destruction – I digress…). Romance writers are educated, literate women with full lives, other jobs, and who possess an intelligence that is amazing. So why do they do this? Suffer and agonize over the slightest details…I have to know.
I kind of fell into the genre by accident. At one time (before I was bitten by the writing bug and had more time), I was a voracious reader. I loved reading romances, seeing the conflicts and how the writer resolved them. The more I read, the more ideas of how I would write such a novel kept invading my brain. So, one morning, I sat down and began writing. I kept writing, hiding what I was doing from my husband for fear of derision (and death and mayhem when he did laugh). I poured my ideas into what I thought would surely be the next bestseller. I did not have a clue about what I was doing. I had never heard of the RWA and had no idea about the major industry involved with romance novels. I just wrote what I felt. I finished that 95,000-word novel and wrote four more in the series. I thought they were brilliant. (Sadly, upon learning more about the craft, I sort of cringe when I think back about those books and then solemnly vow to revisit them – rewrites).
I had begun this journey…
For me, writing is fulfilling the need to get those pesky little people out of my head. I see something and a story pops up, rolling around in my head until I have to get it down on paper (or the computer screen). It’s not some underlying need to write what I think love should be – it’s just a need to tell a story that happens to be romantic. I don’t sit and spin a fantasy about true love (I have that – thank God). So I guess I am not a sad little woman with her cats who is dreaming of the man she should have. I simply want to write a good story. After all, most novels are fantasy (including Stephen King’s novels – duh- and even John Grisham’s – lawyers do not act that way). Novels are just stories. Just STORIES…hmmm
So, tell me, why do you write romance? How did you begin in this genre? And, most of all, what keeps you writing? Share your story with me. Even if it’s all about becoming the next Beverly Barton, Linda Howard, Linda Jones or Norah Roberts and all that lovely money…
I shall reward one lucky commenter with an autographed copy of Beverly Barton’s newest release AND a handcrafted bracelet (made by me).