Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Wile E. Coyote Moment

Deborah Wright's ProfileCurrent Project: The Space Between (trying out a new title)
Status: 4 pages + more backstory!

I'd call it a light bulb moment, or better yet, an epiphany, but honestly, this feels more like a Wile E. Coyote having an anvil fall on his head moment.

Between our chapter meeting this month and Paty's post yesterday, I've been thinking about a few things, but in particular, why I write. I've given various answers to that question in the last couple of years, depending on who was asking and the way they phrased it.

For instance, if someone asked why I want to write--the implication being, of course that unless/until I earn money for my writing, what I do doesn't count--I'd vaguely say, 'oh, you know, it'd be cool to be published' and then promptly change the subject. If someone just casually asked why I write--as if I have a choice not to--I usually mumble something about wanting to entertain people by spinning a good yarn and leave it at that. For those who'd dig a little deeper and ask what I write, the answer varied depending on my current WIP. But the one thing I was always quick to add was that I don't write Romance, not "traditional" Romance, anyway. Whatever that might be.

Funny, huh? I'm a member of RWA, an organization I respect and for which I'm grateful, and I don't write Romance. But here's the thing. I've been lying--not just to the people who ask, but worse, I've been lying to myself.

I realized that all of the stories I've written or started to write--all of the ideas that I've come up with for new stories--every one of them, without fail, has a romance/relationship component. The romance may not be the central story, but it's always an integral and complete subplot.

I'm not sure why I've had this problem, other than I guess I carried around this self-image of myself as a writer of Fantasy/SF/Mystery, since those are the genres I've mostly read all of my life. But I also read Romance, just not exclusively. And I much prefer my genre (non-romance) books to have a satisfying emotional component (if not a romantic HEA, at least an equivalent).

So, no more prevaricating. I'm here, standing (virtually) before you today to declare: Hi. I'm Debbie and I write Romance.

How about you? Did you always know, when you started writing, that you wanted to write Romance? Did you ever consider writing in a different genre? How did it go?


Genene Valleau said...

Hi, Debbie!

I've always written romance--though it may have adventure or mystery or another element mixed in, the romance has always been the core.

I wasn't always open about what I wrote, especially at first. Not just because I was hesitant to "confess" to writing romances, but if I said I wrote people expected me to have a book or two or three finished and I didn't. I was still finding my process and learning how to write. Guess I just had to become comfortable with being a writer or perhaps prove to myself that I was a writer before I could say with enthusiasm that I write romances.

Now the shock value of saying that is fun. I seem so practical or quiet or something that I can actually see people's perception of me changing as they assimilate that I write romances--or maybe it's the fact I have seven dogs or that I work with the body's energy fields or I tear down walls. Most likely, it's the fact that I'm doing things I love to do and speak with enthusiasm about all of my projects. If people find that interesting, that's great. If they don't, oh well.

You're learning how to write and figuring out what you want to write. It's OK to be protective of that fledgling process for a while. You've already made great strides since you've been in the chapter, so don't be hard on yourself. Have fun on this creative journey and wait to label your writing when it's time for promotion. :)

Paty Jager said...

Debbie, Glad I could help. ;) Actually Istarted writing children's stories, was told I wrote too adult... Then I thought well I read Agatha Christy, Sue Grafton, Dick Francis so I'll write mystery (and I had a woman I wanted dead so this was my therapy) But I had a romantic element in the mysteries. Then I read LaVyrle Spencer and it clicked. I should be writing historical western romance and that's what I stuck to until Alice twisted my arm. (Hi Alice) And now I write contemporary and historical western ROMANCE. I like the happy ending, the tying up of the plots and subplots by the end of a book, or the ongoing tale if there is a happy ending for someone.

Congratulations on discovering your calling!

Elisabeth Naughton said...

I love Wile E. Coyote moments. :)

Debbie, I think the whole writing process is an evolution--and that includes sharing our writing with others. I didn't tell anyone I was writing for a long time. DH found out because he was poking around on my computer one day and found a file I'd been working on. I shudder when I think back to that first manuscript--it was horrible--but he was very supportive and encouraged me to keep writing. (Good thing he couldn't tell good writing from bad writing back then!). After that I told sporadic people I was writing--my mom, my best friend, etc. But yeah, I was hesitant to say I was writing romance too. Mostly because there's this big negative stereotype associated with romance novels. But you know what? Think about any major movie...they ALL have a romantic element to them, whether they end happily or not. Transformers, Titanic, Star Wars, Indiana Jones...the romantic element in all of these and the way the characters relate to each other make watchers care about the main characters, and it makes them real. Love is a major part of life. It makes perfect sense it should be a major part of a novel as well, regardless of the genre.

I stopped hedging about what I write when this Wile E. Coyote moment hit me. These days when someone asks me what I write, I proudly say Romantic Suspense. And if someone happens to roll their eyes at my answer, I'm more than eager to share the whys and market share statistics of romance novels. Though I may have waffled on how I described the books I write, the reality is I've always written romance, right from the very start. I honestly can't imagine writing anything else.

Kendra said...

Yes, I'm guilty of this. I didn't tell anyone I wrote for a long time. Things sorta leaked out.

Depending on the person I'm talking with, I say I write romantic suspense or suspense. Frankly it's hard to write without any romance. I read multiple genres, and nearly every fiction book written has some aspect of romance. I think a well developed character needs to show their interactions with the opposite sex, good or bad. I don't think Forrest Gump is a romance, but it wouldn't be the same without Jenny's storyline.

Alice Sharpe said...

I love it: Wile E. Coyote Moment. Cute.

I've always had a love story within my stories. When I read a mystery or anything else, it's the relationship that grabs me -- or if it doesn't, then I'm not so keen on the story. Remember when we were all so excited about Hans Solo and Princess Leia? Yeah, yeah, intergalactic war, Darth Vader.... all that, too, but it's the love story (and Paty, you'll notice, Dick Francis ALWAYS has a love story in his mysteries. So did Agatha Christie, mostly, usually in the form of a young couple in jeopardy of some kind.)

At first, I was a little hesitant to admit I wrote romance, too. My first editor actually told me I was too good a writer to be writing romances, I should be writing mainstream (was she nuts?) Then I got over it and it's funny because this year I have had four or five comments from as many people that have reflected poorly on writing for Harlequin. Just when I decided to wear my publishing history with pride, I've gotten all these stupid comments from people who should know better (if not about the actual books, then how about just having some manners?) It's been a little upsetting and then I decided, screw that. That's their problem, not mine.

So, I am joining you. Hello. My name is Alice and I, too, write romance.

And Kendra, you're right, Forest wouldn't be the same without his Jenny.

Paty Jager said...

Alice that's true about Dick Francis and Agatha Christie.

As for not saying I'm a writer- When I did declare it all those years ago, everyone asked (every time they saw me) Are you published yet? Like all you had to do was write a book, send it in, and it was published. After several of those, I quit saying anything until I could say, yes, I am published.

Bethany Gabbert said...

Fun post!

I have always wanted to write Romance. I don't really have other types of stories rattling around in my head. I envy those of you with paranormal or even historical brains b/c mine functions only on the contemporary romance setting with an option for YA.

Now, while I have always *wanted* to write romance, TELLING others is sometimes tricky as the genre has a lot of detractors. So, what I do is have a list of "like" authors that I immediately rattle off, "Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Lori Foster" and others that people have usually heard of.

Best of luck on your WIP!

Lisa Leoni said...

Great post, Debbie :) I had started writing general fiction leaning toward horror/paranormal a bit. I'd never read romance until several years ago, and I'd also really struggled with my writing. It just never felt right. I recall having just finished reading through Ann Rice's vampire books and I wanted more vampire. I went on amazon and found a list that someone put together of great vampire fiction. It said that Katie MacAlister's vampire books were light-hearted and funny. I don't remember seeing them listed as romance...

So I ordered the first one and was really enjoying it. Low and behold, there was a sex scene. I'd read sex in books before, but this was different - it was all about the guy and girl. Hmmm...so I looked Katie up online and discovered she's a romance writer.

If I could insert the googly-eyed surprise emoticon here, I would.

I chewed on that for a bit and thought about my most recent story idea, with more focus on a romance. BAM! That was the missing ingredient - romance.

Glad you've made your realizations, Debbie!

Piper Lee said...

Hey Debbie, chiming in late. Sorry. ;)

Yes, I always knew I'd write romance. I've just never figured out if I want to write the sex part of romance novels or not though. I'm still debating. I guess if it comes out onto the page then I'll write it. If not, then I guess I won't. Duh. LOL But either way, I will always have romance as the main theme of my stories.

I've never considered writing anything else. Romance is just in my head and heart and that's what comes out. In fact, I don't like to watch or read anything that doesn't have SOME sort of romantic story in it. Love makes the world go round and all that rot! LOL

Loved your "Wile E. Coyote Moment"!