So, it’s Valentine’s Day, which means built in blog topic for romance writers. Woo hoo. On hour, seven hundred words, let’s go. Okay. No big plans for the day, as such. I’m writing, which is worthy of celebration, because my brain is returning from the fog of Martian Death Cold, and it’s time to write some of the rust out of the faucet, so to speak. This also means I get to spend some extra time tucked in a comfy chair (probably my office chair, which is plenty comfy and has great back support) and snuggle under a fuzzy blanket, with a cup of tea (pink skull and crossbones mug today) and the day’s soundtrack is a mixture of my Spotify daily mix and Real Life Romance Hero doing dishes on the other side of my office door. Heck yes, romance heroes wash dishes.
Okay, maybe not medieval knights or nineteenth century English noblemen. Probably not pirates, either, but, y’know, everybody does what they have to do on a pirate ship because there are only so many people to do a lot of different jobs, so maybe pirates, after all. Who can tell? Me, next time I write a pirate book? Maybe so. We will see. The point is, romance heroes do a whole lot of things. Heroines, too. That came out wrong, but I’ll let it stand, because I am in that sort of a mood.
Romance gets a lot of jabs this time of year, often from people who aren’t fans of the genre, often because they haven’t tried any recent romance fiction, or classic romance fiction, or fiction with romantic elements (though, let’s be real, that romance stuff is everywhere, and gets into many different genres, to varying degrees, but I digress.) Think pieces of this sort (of which there often does not seem to be a whole lot of thinking going on) have become commonplace enough that I can look at them, and, meh, another one of those? Okay. Whatever. What I’d really like to see is the excited discovery of a new romance reader – hey, look at all these great stories, where the focus is on the relationship and there’s history and suspense and sex and faith and it’s funny and it rips my heart out and puts it back together, and, seriously, anything can happen to these characters, as long as they end up happy and together, and, y’know what? They do. Every single time. How amazing is that?
Pretty darned, is all I’m saying. Yesterday was my weekly meeting with N, and we talked about reconnecting with what we want for our writing careers, about reconnecting with what makes a story, be it read or written, special. For me, this means a concentrated effort in reconnecting with what I love most about historical romance. If I’m going to go back to the source, the moment I fell in love with the genre, it would be when eleven-year-old me snuck a book from my mother’s nightstand, and cracked it open, by flashlight, under the brass bed in the guest bedroom. It also takes me back to countless used bookstores, where I would crawl around on the floor, inspecting the lower shelves for stories set in the sixteenth century, scanning for keywords that would catch my attention. Any mention of larger than life, or epic, or sprawling, or…:satisfied sigh:
Yeah, that. When I think of historical romance, that’s my happy place. I’m sure there’s something to be said about the role of the floor in all of this. The floor of the guest bedroom, under the big brass bed, the floors of countless bookstores, usually ending up in a tucked away corner, books spread out around me, so I could whittle down the selection to fit within the budget for that trip. To a lesser extent, there are the countless spins I made of the spinner racks in the fiction section of the library closest to my dad’s house when I was in high school, checking for fat paperbacks that meant historical romance, and the distinctive, slim spines that meant traditional Regencies, or gothics. As long as there was history, and there was romance, I was happy.
Am happy, because, decades after that first filched paperback, which now has a place of honor on the bookshelf behind me as I write, the same bookcase which once held the picture books of my preschool days, I still get that thrill. Give me two lovers who have to be together, but can’t, and I am there. If I am the one entrusted to making sure the lovers’ stars un-cross, that’s another level of fun. Frustration, sometimes, because story people can be tricky little badgers, making choices of their own, the second they hit the page. That only means they are real and alive in the sense that it becomes a collaboration between the writer and their imaginary friends. In that way, no romance writer is ever truly alone, no matter what day it is.
Over the magic seven hundred now, and time to wrap this puppy, which can get tricky when I go on this sort of ramble. As N and I discussed, sometimes it takes a while to write the rust out of the faucet, and putting down anything is better than putting down nothing, especially when putting down anything runs smack into a wall of resistance. Even so, keep at it long enough, and the faucet runs out of rust. That’s a happy ending right there.