“Chains and whips aren’t really my thing.”
“I only read about complex characters.”
These are some of the comments I’ve heard over the years when asked what types of books I write.
For some, the word “romance” in reference to literature conjures up all sorts of stereotypical ideas and thoughts. People sometimes seem to think romance is all of the “Fifty Shades” variety, or all about shirtless men with their hair flowing in the wind. Others assume romance is a sexist genre where the woman is always saved by the man, or that women are portrayed as needing love to be fulfilled.
Some argue that romance isn’t literature and that complex, deep reading can’t be accomplished with a book in the genre.
Still others complain if there is too much complexity and emotion in a romance book, because it should just be about escape.
Please don’t get me wrong — as an English teacher and a writer, I appreciate the fact that literature is subjective. We all bring our own experiences, backgrounds, and interpretations into our reading habits. Not every book is for every reader, and that’s the sheer beauty of it in my opinion.
I am completely okay with honesty, and am completely okay if romance books aren’t your thing.
However, here’s what I want to say: I will not apologize for writing romance books. Ever.
A Love Affair With The Genre
My love affair with love stories began back in junior high when I picked up a Nicholas Sparks book. From the first looks to the magical moments when the couple decided to make it work, I was hooked on the emotion packed into his books.
For me, love stories reminded me of the complexity of life and the power of two spirits coming together. Sure, love couldn’t make everything perfect. However, love could make me remember that I was human. Love stories reminded me of not just hope, but of despair, loss, suffering, sadness, jealousy, and every other human emotion.
In short, love stories reminded me that to be human is to feel a multitude of emotions.
Thus, when I put pen to paper years later, a love story just naturally flowed from somewhere deep within. It was, after all, where I felt like there would be the most emotional complexity, the deepest level of a story. My journey as a romance writer began.
I’m Proud To Write Love Stories
Over the past few years in my writing journey, I’ve learned that the stigma with the genre isn’t imagined. There is definitely a tendency to be greeted with upturned noses, curled lips, and exasperated sighs when you claim membership in the romance writing club. I’ve been dealt my fair share of rude comments from complete strangers solely based on the genre I write in. I’ve been to book events where I’ve felt the heavy wave of stigma surrounding the genre.
Some seem to think I should be embarrassed to write in the genre, acting like it’s a dirty secret that I write love stories.
However, I’m not. I will not be sorry for writing the stories I love.
I write sweet romance, so the whips and chains some people assume are in my books... well, they’re just not there. Sweet romance is my passion as a writer. However, whips and chains or fade to black scenes, I don’t think it matters.
No matter what heat level of romance you write or read, there shouldn’t be a stigma with it.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying the exploration of love, spicy or sweet. There is nothing “less” about romance readers. They are not inferior in the literary world, despite what some may think.
To love someone is one of the greatest risks one can take in life.
To love someone is to experience doubt, guilt, jealousy, fear, love, empathy, compassion, excitement, passion, sadness, loss, tragedy, contentment, lust, peace, and every other human emotion possible.
So how could a romance read, a love story, be anything but powerful?
Why are we so afraid to admit that love stories can be beautiful, and that romance isn’t always the enemy?
Why are so many insistent that the romance genre is inferior, stale, cheesy, inappropriate, or any other negative word?
In literature, however, we are all entitled to our own choice and our own voice. We all have the ability to judge and to choose. We have the right to compare, to critique, and even to dismiss genres.
As an avid romance reader and as a romance writer, however, I simply want to say: I will never apologize for writing romance. I will never apologize for reading romance.
I will never apologize for believing in the power and the beauty of two hearts coming together, of two human beings connecting in an emotionally, physically powerful bond.
I simply won’t apologize for seeing the beauty in love.
Lindsay Detwiler is a high school English teacher and contemporary romance writer with Hot Tree Publishing. To learn more about her works, visit www.lindsaydetwiler.com