Thank you to Florence for letting a newbie writer like me contribute to your blog. If you’d like to read it on her blog – go here.
When Florence opened up the opportunity to host, I leapt at it. The actual execution is what stymied me. “What do I write about?” I asked. Basically, she said, “Anything. How about: Why do you write? Why do you write romance?”
Why do I write?
I can’t not write. That’s the simple answer.
I’m a writer, I need to add more.
Writing helps me think. Writing helps me process the world. Writing is my outlet. Human behavior is fascinating; how people behave in certain circumstances with certain personality traits. There’s a field of study called Social Psychology which is the psychology of group behavior. It helps explain things like soccer hooligans or why people are swayed towards incorrect answers if the people who answer the same question before them all give the same incorrect answer in a convincing voice. I like to imagine how people behave in certain circumstances with certain backgrounds and certain personality predispositions, then I write it all down and hope someone wants to read it. It’s called writing. And imagination. I have lots of that. As a child, I used to create paper dolls or draw families and tell stories about them. Now, I cut to the chase and write stories.
I only started writing seriously about a year ago. For a couple years before that I wrote (cough) fan fiction (cough), which let me practice the craft but I immediately felt stymied by other people’s characters and other people’s stories. I always had to set my fan fiction stories in Alternative Universe or in some Imagined Future so I had more flexibility than the constraints set by the original author. But, it was fun, I practiced writing in a safe environment, and I started realizing that there was a whole world out there beyond my cubicle in high tech land where writers from all over the world were creating, posting their stories online and getting immediate feedback from readers and other writers. ( I actually met one of my closest writing friends this way.)
I decided to work on original fiction when a friend introduced me to National Novel Writing Month last November (NaNoWriMo). Ironically, my friend never wrote anything and I haven’t stopped writing since.
Writing is how I process life. I’m currently going through some personal issues, and I get the idea of a short short story in my head (about 500 words), I write it down quickly and save it. It may show up in a scene in a larger work later on, or it’s like journaling, but in the third person.
I’ve been an avid journaller (is that a word?) for decades now; I don’t think I could have survived my difficulty dating twenties, my horrible bosses in my thirties, the joys and tribulations of parenthood in my forties without processing it through journal entries at night or early morning. Writing is how I think. Writing is also where I have a witty repartee that seems to evade me verbally in real time.
Why women’s fiction with romantic elements?
There are so many definitions of women’s fiction, but I like the idea that it’s character driven and a woman’s search for the answers to her life. I actually use a work of nonfiction as my reference point: Elizabeth Gilbert’s fabulous EAT, PRAY, LOVE, which is one of my favorite books of all time. If you’re unfamiliar with the excellent book or the mediocre movie, a newly divorced woman finds a year in Italy, India and Indonesia in search for pleasure, inner peace and everything put together. She happens to find love a long the way which is just the frosting on the cake. It’s not necessarily a love story.
Yet, I find so many books that run from the romance label actually have romance in them. How many other genres of writing—mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, and literary– have more than a hint of romance? My view is that love is the strongest human emotion. Love is what makes us fly to heights or plunge into despair. Love is the most passionate, the most intense, the most written about emotion there is. Hate, jealousy, despair, depression? These are all fractions of love, in my humble opinion. My favorite TED presentation ever was by Brene Brown about the innate human need for vulnerability and connectedness. That’s a part of love, too. Love isn’t just romance and sex. Love for family, love for friends, those are included as well.
I’m currently editing multiple women’s fiction projects. My novel is about a woman having a second chance at love, but she is also dealing with children, work, and the complications of her marriage dissolving and her new/old love being an ocean apart. I’m editing a couple novellas about women finding their way, one post divorce not just finding love but learning about herself after a decade of keeping herself down to keep her husband up, the other about a woman on the fast track realizing there’s more to life than that VP suite and jumping off to start her own business on her own terms, and happening to find love along the way. Even the romantic comedy romance I’m editing now before it’s publish date of December 2011 (plug: BEST BAD DATE to be published by Muse It Up) could be considered a chick lit rom com, but I had to have a depth of characters and back story that some critics assume lacking in the genre.
Why do I write? Because I must. And I must every day, 4:45 am before the house is awake. Each day, I step lightly down the stairs to the dining room where my laptop is on an ergonomically incorrect dining table, start the hot water, set the teapot with strong British tea, prepare my favorite tea cup and saucer with fake sugar, and get to it.
I must write.