Yes, It’s Okay if You Want to Write a Romance Novel


bodice_ripper_cover1

I don’t know where this idea of high-brow and low-brow reader hierarchy of culture came from, but apparently I’m supposed to feel ashamed if I like romance novels or YA or chick-lit? People might scoff at my bubble gum pink book cover or YA title, but they are just scoffing at an interest or opinion that is different from their own. Because whatever they do in the privacy of their home is apparently the norm. They’re probably boring. They probably think the classics are the only proper book to read on the subway, when even those novels were scoffed at for being the reading choice for low class entertainment or (gasps!) women.

I sent a cursory text to a few writer friends once, it read along the lines of “am I silly that I want to write a romance?” And I waited sick in the aftermath, looking at my sent text and guessing the flat replies or jibes to come. Granted, this wasn’t entirely necessary. If I want to write a romance, I should, but I was still under this impression that writing one was something you do on the DL. Then maybe if it gets published you can own your success and people would support you.

Quite quickly, I received really encouraging replies and advice and knowledge of the publishing market for romance writers. My friends asked if I had plots in mind and said that they could see me writing one. That it was a perfect match. They’d love to read or chat about what I was thinking. I felt safe and silly for feeling so self conscious in my writer community.

Now my friends range in what they want to pursue and I admire their stories for being fantastic, bombastic, truthful, and funny. I have my opinion on how a story should be and they have their own. But we respect what someone wants to do.

I’m here to say that yes, it is okay if you want to write a romance novel, or a Young Adult, or a chick-lit, or the next Great American novel. It’s okay to admit it, read it, talk about it. Writing is hard to do without encouragement already.

I’m going to write and read whatever the frack I want to write and read.

Saying that something isn’t good because it’s a mass paperback, a guilty pleasure, doesn’t make it bad. It also doesn’t mean that it has to be a guilty pleasure for you, because you enjoy reading or writing it. That’s when the good writing comes in (along with listening and working on craft).

Sure, I’m ashamed when someone calls something I love awful or childish or puerile. I’m human. It would bother me, but then I think of how I necessarily don’t like what that person likes. That person might like celery or basketball. That person hates what I like, but I kinda hate what they like. It’s fine to too.

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4 thoughts on “Yes, It’s Okay if You Want to Write a Romance Novel

  1. I knew a published romance author. I wish we hadn’t fallen out of touch. She was a smart, funny, independent woman. I actually had people tell me I shouldn’t hang out with her, especially with my son, because they considered her a pervert. It’s outrageous. I get similar labels for writing fantasy: weirdo, childish, etc. As a writer, you just have to ignore the labels and write what you want.

    • That’s interesting you say that about that extra misconception for romance writers. It comes from those stereotypes of the bodice ripper novels. But you’re definitely right: ignore the labels and write what you want is the best way.

  2. Some of the best books I’ve ever read were romances, or sci-fi or YA. And some of the so-called literature has been total crap (in my opinion). Read and write what you like. Life’s too short to worry about reading what you’re supposed to. (Of course that’s easy for me to say. If I wanted to read Fifty Shades of Gray, I don’t know that I’d be able to do it in public. But that would just be my personal hang up).

    • Haha no I don’t think I would be able to read 50 Shades of Grey in public either, but I definitely thought that people judge your reading choices so readily that it sometimes made me hold the book a certain way to hide the cover (especially if the cover is too pink, too romantic). No more! You’re right that I should just read what I want. People will assume what they will anyway.

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