There have been a lot of talks, posts, reviews, tweets, FB status's etc going on lately about romance novels. I think it's happening more often because there are WAY more romance books being released than ever (though there have always been a lot). With the increase in people self-publishing (not saying that's good or bad so no one yell at me), there are hundreds (more?) new releases Every. Single. Day. and a lot of them happen to be romance. I think that's part of the reason people are talking about it more. Lovers are loving it more and haters are hating it more.
I will say this is a topic close to my heart. I am a total romantic at heart. I adore nothing more than writing about two people finding love (and often times themselves)with each other. I love shy glances and fluttery stomachs. Love watching characters see someone in a new light or meeting that person they're supposed to be with. I love first kisses and sexy scenes and people opening themselves to each other when they've kept themselves closed off for so long. Or people who aren't closed off meeting someone who still just manages to rock their world and show them something new. I am passionate about romance and I'm not afraid to admit it.
I believe love has the power to do amazing things. I believe it has the ability to change lives and I feel honored to be able to write about that.
You know what else I believe? That finding yourself through falling in love with someone, by leaning on someone and learning from them and growing because of them, doesn't diminish the growth a character made. It doesn't mean the character is this weak person who couldn't grow on their own. It doesn't mean they never would have done it by themselves, either. It doesn't mean they never would have been able to stand on their own or that by loving they aren't standing on their own now. It doesn't mean they didn't have to work for it. To me--in MY books and MY writing--it just means they meant someone who HELPED them open their eyes. Who helped them want something more for themselves and in my opinion, that's damn beautiful.
Now before you say it, I also know that there are a great deal of unhealthy romances written nowadays. Leaning and learning and growing doesn't mean depending. There's a differences so no one yell at me about that either, LOL. That's not what I'm discussing here. But I look at Cheyenne and Colt. I will talk about them like they are real because to me they are. LOL. But...do I think Colt would have found his way out of the darkness on his own? Without the love of Cheyenne? I'm not sure. I can't say. I believe her love helped him become the person he always had the ability to be. Or to let that person out, and would he have without her? Who knows, but he also put in a lot of work to grow (even though he didn't change 100%. That's a topic for another day because regardless of his growth, he is still him (bad mouth and all) and IMO that is real). But the fact that it took love, that sappy, sappy thing that gets cursed so much to help him find himself doesn't mean he worked any less hard. It doesn't make his growth any less real and any less of an accomplishment.
I don't think romance (or at least the kind I enjoy) is all about fluff or sex or sexy guys (though I also don't think there is anything wrong with swooning over guys or girls in books). IMO romance shouldn't and doesn't have to mean it's not also a coming-of-age story. I truly believe they can go hand and hand. And I don't just mean coming-of-age either, but a good romance shouldn't have to upstage any kind of personal growth or transformation. They can all go together and work together and it's important that they do.
I had a lot of friends in high school. It wasn't like I was this uber-popular girl in the "in" crowd, but things didn't really work like that at my school. I did have a large group of friends though. I always had people to hang out with and I was happy. I was also the girl who was "the friend". I didn't have a lot of boyfriends. I had a lot of boys who were friends, but none of them wanted to date me because I was the friend. My girlfriends all almost always had boyfriends, but not me. And yeah, I'm not going to lie and say it wasn't hard at times, but I was okay. Like I said, I was happy and had a lot of fun and valued all my friends so much. I will always look back on my high school years fondly. That being said, I believe the love of my husband also made me a stronger person. I will say that being with him made me see I had insecurities before that I didn't realize. And the longer I was with him, the more I saw those insecurities fade. I have become more adventurous (though still a little bit of a scardy cat) and I think I walk with my head a little higher than maybe I did before. Is that a bad thing? Does that somehow make me weak? Or mean I was weak before? I don't think it does.
Love is powerful. Because I write romance doesn't mean I walk around with my head in the clouds. It doesn't mean I'm this happy girl full of fluff and rainbows. A well-crafted romance can rip your heart out. It can open your eyes. It can change your life. I don't think that is a bad thing.
And fluff? It has it's place too. It can make you smile, make you laugh, which I think is extremely in life too. There's nothing wrong with a book made to make you happy. And there's nothing wrong with reading it. They both have their place and I, for one, am grateful of that.
I know life is messy and there aren't always happily ever afters, but...sometimes there are. I don't think there is anything less heartfelt about a story with a happily ever after. About liking them. They can be real too. I think they can make you feel as well (and on the flip side, nothing wrong with messy endings or non-happily ever afters either). My point is there is room for all of it. I don't think romance lovers, and people who love happily ever afters should be dismissed as fluff readers with their heads in the clouds, just like people who enjoy darker stories and/or messy endings doesn't mean they should be dismissed as emo or whatever else. Both stories can come from the heart. Both can make you think and stay with you afterward and both kind of stories can mean something. People can like one or the other or both. Now... I need to shut up or I will never stop.