Most of my stories since I hit 14 have held some element of romance. I remember being in my teens and being highly frustrated that my head always veered sharply in a romantic direction with whatever story I’d created. I wanted to write complex, engaging stories that taught people something new and dissected an element of human nature. I didn’t want to write romance.
So I struggled away from writing anything like that. What I did write in that vein I shoved away in a folder that was never part of the “actual” canon of that story. Or if the story was basically a romance, I wasn’t taking it seriously and would be taking the story in a “real” direction once I developed another storyline.
(There is A LOT of crappy romance hidden in the recesses of my computer hard drive.)
At the same time, I was fascinated by characters and relationships — yes, romantic relationships too — so I was really interested in exploring all of that through my writing.
My Jungian-theory brain informs me I was working out what I thought about romance and relationships in general. Which is probably obvious. I think humanity as a whole has been trying to figure out relationships since the dawn of time.
A couple years ago I finally calmed down on the whole “I’M NOT WRITING ROMANCE” bent. Maybe it’s because I’ve read some freaking fantastic writers who write primarily in romance. Maybe it’s just because I can’t read as much romance-esque books as I do and then not by a hypocrite. Maybe it’s because I’ve stopped being quite so self-important.
It probably also helps I’ve found many authors that deliciously weave romance and adventure and social commentary together, something that’s more along the lines of what I want to write — juxtaposed against my teenage days of sneaking trashy romance from the library.
I think the reality is I was so hyper-focused on romantic elements before — from both trying to figure it out and not wanting to be so over-focused on them — and now I’ve just calmed the ef down. Romance is good. Romance is fine. A lot of freaking people read romance. There’s crappy romance. There’s great romance.
I think the point of all of this is I’ve always wanted to push myself. Instead of writing what feels right, or easy, I want to be challenged. Frustrated. Constantly striving to do more, to write better, to be more meaningful in my craft. My drive is to write thought-provoking books that people want to read — but, ultimately, when you think about that, it means I can write weird social commentary with fantasy and sci-fi and philosophy AND romance.
And I’m not sure if this is because I’ve calmed down on the subject, or if it’s just the development of my brain, but lately there are stories in my head that don’t have a love interest immediately jarring center stage. There is other intrigue clawing for my attention.
Which is a bit of relief, because usually when I write something I have the romance aspect battering around my brain like a ping-pong ball and I either have to pointedly ignore it or write/plan it all out before I can move onto writing the other aspects.
But honestly, I like romance in whatever I read or write. I just like to have other, just as important elements too.
(So what does this post mean, anyway — I’m no longer a closet romance writer?)
What’s your drive for writing? What’s your opinion about romance – and has it changed over the years?