Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Relationship with Romance

I read somewhere recently that writing romance is like a romantic relationship. I've been pondering this idea quite a bit since. At first, I didn't fully make the connection, but then today I realised how true it is.
I began my love affair with writing romance about five years ago when I wrote my first adult novel. Because I'm a panster (someone who doesn't plot every detail of the book beforehand but just writes as the ideas flow), it turned out to be a romance even though the original book idea had no romance in it. Realising that it was a good idea to write what I enjoy reading, I began a relationship with writing romance. In the beginning, there were stars in my eyes - the words rolled off my fingers onto the keyboard and into my computer. Excitement used to surge through me whenever I came up with a new book idea. I wrote the books in under six months, loving every moment, until I received the rejection letters. That reminds me of the first few months of dating. The relationship is new, exciting and scary too, especially when your date finds out things about you they don't like and vica versa. But the love is too strong, so you keep going.
After several books which weren't totally romances and had so many problems, I began to realise that I wanted to pursue writing romance as a career. Hence the commitment to form a steady relationship. I loved it enough to handle the rejection letters and keep going. Some relationships are a little like that - the girl wants to marry her man but she's waiting on him to propose - to give her her dream. So I worked on my skills, learning how to write better. Every relationship needs work. When I was dating my now-husband, I used to read lots of books on marriage and relationships so I knew how to make it work well.
Then comes that special moment you've been waiting for for months and years. A publishing contract. It's like the marriage proposal. I don't know about you, but after I said 'yes' (after two other 'no's' much to my husband's distress), it was not all plain sailing from there. Doubts began to surface, especially as I moved closer to the day. What if he changes and isn't so wonderful after we're married? What if I make a miserable wife, and he divorces me? What  if our love fades after several years?
What if my book doesn't reach the readers' hearts? What if I can't write another good book? What if it's downhill from here? Will I always come up with new ideas?
So when you get that beloved contract, you still wonder. Do I want to write romance the rest of my life? Really and truly. Those initial tingles and goosebumps have faded a little. The words come slower now - often punctuated by much thought and adjustment. A new book idea evolves more from pondering and stewing - it doesn't always fall in my lap like a meteor from the sky.
But, I'm committed. I still love writing romance. I'm still excited about getting better and better. They say a good marriage gets better with age like a good wine. You know each other's weaknesses and faults and love each other nonetheless. In fact, you love each other so much more deeply because of it. You've been through the mill together, you've born with hurts and forgiven, you've held each other's hands through the darkest nights, and you've laughed yourselves silly and talked until two in the morning sometimes.
So for now, I'm going to see where my love affair with writing romance takes me. I'm excited about all I'm going to discover about this partner of mine. We have a lifetime ahead of us, full of challenges and fun. I'm going to give this relationship my time, my effort and my energy, just like a marriage needs. Even when it's not easy.
Would you ever compare writing romance to a relationship? Where in your writing journey do you feel you've reached?

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