Romance. This is a word around which I’ve had a considerable amount of awkwardness. After having avoided The Word for so long, it’s now constantly dangling within my periphery, and I don’t like it. Which of course means there’s something to be learned from all of this hissing and cowering like a vampire who has just been shown a cross. It’s time to delve in.
A couple of weekends ago I participated in the Rainbow Book Reviews Blog Hop, on the topic of what writing GLBT literature means to me. Many participants boiled it down to one overarching inspiration – the love of love. I’m fine with love, I’m totally okay with love. Love is a many splendored thing and whatnot – though when I was a kid I thought the lyrics were “love is a many splintered thing” and I have to say, it still makes more sense to me, because true love, real love, isn’t all splendorific.
And I’m not a romantic. I don’t like all of those typical gestures of romance, the red roses, candles and champagne. I can’t stand rom-coms. Romantic words directed at me make me twitch (and not in a good way). But when I really look at it, I discover it’s not the love I’m rejecting, it’s the common associations with romance that make me cringe. It’s when love scarpers over to the side of puppies and hearts and flowers that I get squeamish. But how much of that is truly dominating the genre, and how much is it my own Harlequin-tainted fears?
I’ve said before that I don’t like labels, and it’s true. There are labels that have scared me off, and Romance is one of the top five. I’m trying to restructure that reaction. My friend and wurbling buddy, writer Anna Reith (aka M. King), pointed out in one of our many epic discussions that in literature, Romance has broadened its definition, and the common formula of boy meets boy, boy loses boy, boy wins back boy and they live happily ever after is no longer the focus. Happy endings – these are still key to satisfying romance, but there are many ways to reach that conclusion, many roads to take.
Overall, I write satisfying endings. Ninety-nine percent of the time, things turn out well for my characters (okay, maybe 96.7%). I’m all for positive storylines, and especially in this genre, there have been too many tragedies. Balance needs to be created. In fact, one of my books took on a decidedly romantic spin when it was accompanied by too many depressing movies about thwarted love, lost love, and heartbreak. In response, my story became romantic – sort of a “fuck you” romantic retaliation. So why do I feel like I need to defend myself – “I didn’t mean to! They made me! Hey, you know I am not like this, right? I’m not like this!” But I didn’t change it. I tried to when I came around and all of the sentiment had seeped out of my brain, but I just couldn’t. It was meant to be.
Urgh, it was meant to be. I guess that’s the key to romance?