"If you have love, you don't need to have anything else. If you don't have it, it doesn't matter much what else you have."
~James M. Barrie
I love writing about love. Love is a great theme. Love is a core reality of who we are as human beings, and often motivates us--in both good and bad ways. Love is explored in all genres, too, whether its merely the requisite "create sexual chemistry with another character here" kind of thing or a genuine connection between two people racing to save the universe or catch the serial killer. And while the love story isn't the point of those novels ... well, there's still a love story, isn't there?
Just last night, I was talking to AVB (Awesome Viking Boyfriend) about how romance fiction isn't exactly a respected genre. It's definitely the money maker. Romance novels own 50% of mass market sales. And the genre brings in around 1.3 billion dollars a year. Still. If fiction is a playground, then the romance genre is the fat kid. It doesn't matter that she's rich, or that she writes well, or that she dominates the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestseller lists. It's okay to call her names and tell her that she should lay off the love ho-ho's and start eating real fiction celery.
People insult the romance genre all the time. It doesn't make me want to picket other genres or get into a schoolyard rumble. I'm not ashamed that I write romance, and I don't care if other authors think writing love stories isn't as important as writing science fiction or urban fantasy or mystery. I've seen authors who've been lumped in with the romance genre (mentioned in the same blog or breath or whatever) try to distance themselves from it. Watching that hard scramble backward and expression of horror (Ew! Romance touched me!) amuses me. I mean, wow ... defensive much?
Believe me, I know how cheesy my genre can be. I've written some cheesy-assed things over the years, but that's okay. This is another thing I talked to AVB about ... romance isn't things. Romance isn't roses or stuffed animals or cute cards. It's not candlelit dinners or boxes of candy or back rubs (okay, maybe back rubs). Romance is finding meaning in moments. It's remembering that your significant other likes the color green, so you wear the green shirt (and not the one that says "I love Irish Beer"). It's looking your lover in the eyes and saying, "You mean the world to me." Romance is created by gestures: Making the bed, or cooking dinner, or holding hands and watching bad TV. Romance is expressing love by thought and by deed.
And that's why romance novels are so freaking popular. Women want to be appreciated and adored. They want to feel beautiful, especially when they're feeling the most vulnerable physically, without make-up or hairstyles or hell, even without clothes. When the man you're with looks at you, all of you, just as you are, and says, "You're gorgeous, and I'm so in love you," that's romance.
I have a wonderful time creating that soulmate connection between hero and heroine, and exploring all the aspects of romance. I enjoy that the themes of my novels are about relationships. Yep. I love writing about love.
"All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love."