Pride

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There’s a damn good column over on Romancing the Blog this morning called Pride in Romance by Scott Pomfret and Scott Whittier of Romentics.com, a line of gay romances. Their words are almost controversial in worrying about how the romance genre appears to outsiders and struggles over standards and what “constitutes” a romance novel: they say we should be proud of what we do.

We’ve read a lot in this space and elsewhere about readers and writers who are embarrassed about their connections to romance novels. They seem to accept a second-place status, as if literature could or should be ranked and romance necessarily be judged less valuable.

I’ve done the apology thing. I’ve done the justification tap-dance. I’ve spent time hiding what I write for fear of what the people around me will say. I’ve taken the slings and arrows of ridiculous insults couched in terms of “discussion.” I’ve had people ask me when I was going to do some “real” writing.

Why do we do this to ourselves? We write of hope and optimism, tell stories of people who overcome obstacles both large and small to find happiness and personal fulfillment. What is there to apologize for? We should, as Scott & Scott say, be proud of what we write.

There was originally a long rant that when along with this about letting other people put us down, but the truth is, we most often do it to ourselves. We all have our fears, both small and large, and I know I’ve spent a fair amount of time and energy fighting against the little demons that whisper in my ear in that moment between sleeping and waking. You probably know them, too — the ones who tell you that your words don’t work, that all of it is crap and you’re never going to finish it anyway. And when those demons hear other, outside voices try to chip away at us? They just have a field day.

Pride is important — and if we don’t have pride in ourselves, why should we expect anyone else to?

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Natasha H.

    Amen! 😀

    One of my favorite come backs for people who give me the ‘real writing’ comment is, “And how many books have you published?” Generally shuts the non-writers up. If it’s another writer I just smile evily because I know I’m probaly having just that much more fun writing what makes me (and one day, hopefully others) happy, mwa ha ha!

    (Found you on Romancing the Blog, BTW. Didn’t know what a ‘trackback’ was, so I followed the rabbit hole, so to speak.:grin:)

  2. Caro

    A “trackback” is something blog software like WordPress and Typepad uses to let a blog owner know that someone has linked to a post. Maybe they’ll show up on LJ eventually since Six Apart now owns them as well as Typepad. (My fannish persona has an LJ., so I play in those fields as well.)

    However you found me, though, welcome. 😀

    I agree that “And how many books have you published?” generallly shuts up most non-writers. The ones that it doesn’t — those you pretty much know are going to trash the genre no matter what you say.

    I like the idea of smiling evily at other writers, though I have found that the words “approximately half the market for mass-market paperbacks — what’s your genre’s market share?” is a nice equivalent of “bite me.” There is actually a certain mid-list SF writer in my extended social circle that avoids me at parties because my response to his holding forth and trashing the genre in front of a bunch of fanboys after someone mentioned I wrote romance. I pointed out that I could quite possibly earn a higher advance and have a larger sell-through with a first romance than he would with his next book and that maybe some of his contempt was jealousy.

  3. Michelle

    I think most people who make those comments are just ignorant. I tend to ignore them. When I’m asked, “So you write those smut novels?” I respond in an Austin-Powers tone, “Yeah, baby.” They usually laugh and then start asking more intelligent questions. The ones who do read romance are excited for me.

  4. Caro

    Most are definitely ignorant — I remember a guy at the hotel where one of the RWA national conferences was being held trying to pick up women in the bar with the line “So, do you write female porn?” Needless to say, he did not have a great deal of success.

    Some are definitely jealous — I’ve run into this a lot of in SF community with people (both writers and non-writers) who think their genre is more worthy of a larger share of the market. I’ve also, unfortunately, had people I thought were friends refer very derisively to romance as “female porn”, followed by turning to me and saying “Oh, I don’t mean you, dear.”

    At the moment, I’m lucky; the office I work in is very supportive and very enthusiastic about the fact I write. I’ve had a number of questions about the genre, the industry, and when I head off to lunch, my fellow admin wishes me “Good writing” and expects a progress report when I return.

  5. Natasha H.

    Thanks for the trackback info!

    I pointed out that I could quite possibly earn a higher advance and have a larger sell-through with a first romance than he would with his next book and that maybe some of his contempt was jealousy.
    Brilliant! *laugh* I love the ‘Yeah, baby’ comment as well. Will be adding it to my ‘defensive collection’.

    Sad day when you have to have a ‘defensive collection’, really. I’m convinced that one of these days – when the majority of romance readers/writers just stop feeling bad about their genre – we won’t have to go to such measures. And we certainly won’t have to make writers of genres like SF cry when we innocently point out that their genre’s been in decline over the past ten years, as opposed to Romance’s increasing growth. Mwa ha ha!:wink: (Sorry, having an eeeevol day today.)

  6. Suzanne

    I love writing romance and I don’t care who knows it, but I do understand the problem. It becomes more so after you’ve published and you have books out. I just know there are certain people who will look down on it and I just blow them off. After all these years, I know they’re never going to buy one anyway so I don’t care what they think.

  7. Jill

    Here, here. I love romance, reading it and especially writing it. Pride in our work is critical!

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