When I used to frequent the library (before the days of Kindles and free e-books), I had two stipulations for choosing a book:
-the cover must intrigue me in an understated but thought-provoking way
-the back blurb must NOT contain any indication of a romance to commence therein. No “and she met a boy…”, “he was relentless in his pursuit…”, “their paths collided…”. No, no, no, no, NO. I refused.
At the time my reasoning was that books ought to be thought-provoking. How many ways can you describe falling in love before it gets boring? How is falling in love not THE most overdone topic out there? Where are the life lessons and the philosophical questions? Where is my ‘aha!’ moment in something like romance that has been occurring since the dawn of time?
I know, I know…I’m the Grinch who stole Valentine’s day. Kinda like that invention that Phineas & Ferb reverse engineered when it landed in their yard:
The Anti-Romance invention…the name speaks for itself, right?
I have a history of rejecting romance. My DH, Brad, says I beat the romance out of him. Which is probably true. He used to be a lot gooshier in the early days…making me dinner, breakfast in bed, writing me poems, and I was like, “Ummm…manly men don’t do romance! Where’s my manly man?”
Sheesh, what is wrong with me? I still don’t know. I think I’ll blame my parents who, to my knowledge, never went on a date and I only remember one time my dad got my mom flowers…okay, so that explains why getting flowers is the one thing I DO appreciate to this day. Hmm, you discover something new everyday, don’t ya? See why I love writing?
ANYWAY, back to the topic. Despite all this, I woke up one morning about a year ago to discover that somehow, despite my every intention NOT to, my book, which I’d been already slaving over for over a year, revolved heavily around a romance.
It just happened…okay?
And to this day, I still feel uncomfortable with it, like I’ve somehow perjured myself by writing something that I very likely would have made a point to ignore back in the day. And to my chagrin, I went with it. Because I’ve learned that you have to let the story tell itself. Writing is such a revelatory experience for me which is why I love it so much. The writer’s heart wants what the writer’s heart wants. You just can’t force it to go where it doesn’t want to.
As much as I hated learning that about my book—about MYSELF no less—I began to understand why so many books must revolve around the conundrum of the human relationship… it is the hardest thing we have to deal with. No matter how many times we replay it under different scenarios, it still remains a mystery to most. And to the few who get it, it’s a hot mess of trial and error.
And for any writer or artist, it is a universal theme, sure to rivet the masses if told just so. That’s the challenge of writing really: relaying the common struggle in a way that touches the reader’s heart.
There is nothing harder to get right than marriage/relationships. And, in my opinion, there is nothing more important. Everything we do can be made or broken by those relationships we have–especially the most intimate ones. For example, choosing to work my behind off to get my novel ready for publishing is all because my DH is my greatest fan. If he was someone else, less interested in my business (and possibly less annoying), I’d still be writing to my laptop, never letting my words see the light of day. And probably letting my writing die because of it. It would be a sad thing. But instead it’s a romantic thing. Life is romance. Or it’s trying to be. All the time.
So writing books is romance. It’s talking about relationships. You take something ordinary like love or marriage or meeting someone or just friendship, throw in a few interesting “what ifs,” and you’ve got yourself a riveting read.
In that case, what the heck else is there to write about?