Gloria Gaynor's song "I Will Survive" about a woman whose man dumped her echoes my own relationship with creative writing. Strangely, Hank Williams, Jr.'s song "Country Boys Can Survive" also rings true with regard to my family's ability to survive my writing. That ties into this week's writing prompt: "How my family survives my writing."
When gripped by a story, I ignore little things like laundry and cooking. They've learned to adapt ... or they wait until I surface from the story to tackle the pile of laundry and, maybe, cook. Since the kids got their drivers licenses, waiting on Mom to cook supper doesn't necessarily happen: that's what Chipotle, Cassano's Pizza King, Taco Bell, China's Best, and Wendy's are for.
Probably more significant than the periodic lapses of domesticity is the survival of the embarrassment of having a wife/mother who writes romance. Really, it wouldn't be so bad if I wrote scientific treatises or was a syndicated columnist, but ... romance? Really? Do you have to write smut?
Well, yes, I do. Get over it. I'm not forcing you to read it.
Even though my family cringes at the thought of me writing romance, I suspect their aversion wouldn't be quite so strong if my titles appeared on the NYT bestsellers list or the big screen ("adapted from the novel by Holly Bargo"). It's amazing the approval such popularity buys.
Even so, I don't try to sell my books to my kids' friends and acquaintances or even to my extended family. Sure, I promote through social media, but there's no direct, "Hey, Matt, buy my book." The closest I come is to ask the family to come to the book fair: perhaps they'll find another author whose work appeals to them.
That's not to say that all my family dislike my work. I have a couple of sisters-in-law who enjoy the sort of stories I write, although I do get more explicit than one of them prefers. I have a couple of cousins who read the same sorts of stories, although I don't know whether they actually buy my books. I don't ask. It's better not to know.
The upshot is that my family--and, by extension, society at large--would prefer that I write just about anything other than romance. A little casual investigation will prove this: society disparages the romance genre. I admit there's a lot of crap out there and the romance genre attracts a huge amount of poorly written content. My reviews on the books I read testify to that. However, that doesn't mean romance can't be or shouldn't be well-written.
I have no quarrel with anyone who dislikes romantic literature because it doesn't suit his or her taste. Horror doesn't float my boat, either. I've read science fiction, but don't seek it out. I dislike BSDM romances. I suspect that those who express a distaste for romance equate it to erotica, and badly written erotica at that.
I'll say it: I have not read the Fifty Shades of Grey series. I have no intention of doing so. I did read an excerpt that was so poorly written as to dissuade me from reading further, even if I did enjoy BSDM romance. Regardless, I'd suggest that those who dislike romance in general tend to prefer plot-driven stories, not character-driven stories. The central focus of a romance is the relationship between the main male and female protagonists, not what happens to them and how they navigate the perils they face. That said, romance need not consist of a thin plot stringing sex scenes. The inclusion of explicit intimacy in a romantic story does not automatically confer that story to the sub-genre of erotica.
I learned years ago that if I wanted to be taken seriously as a writer, especially with at "best selling" label to claim, then I had to identify myself as an author and leave off the "romance" descriptor.
#HenHousePublishing #HollyBargoBooks #SpringfieldOHBookFair
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