Let’s welcome back regular contributor Handsome Hansel from Dance of Romance. His question today – can men write romance? And more importantly can women accept a male romance writer?
I know I’m new here at RU and I can accept that.
When I attended my first Romance Writers of America Conference a couple of weeks ago I accepted the hesitant looks of the overwhelming congregation of women.
What I have had trouble accepting is, from both sides of the male/female aisle is that a man can’t really, truly, sincerely be serious about putting romance on paper.
It’s been done before, I know. There are a few men off the top of my head I would put in the category of romantic writers of fiction yet, I’ve noticed that even they aren’t taken seriously in their intentions. Somehow our real persona gets fictionalized. We are simply storytellers. A novelty. We don’t really mean it.
I think one of the greatest compliments we receive as writers is when someone reads through our work, thoroughly enjoys it and doesn’t give who we are a second thought. Let our art stand on its own. However, I’m finding a bit of bias among female readers and writers when I tell them I am a man’s man who has a passion for writing romantic fiction.
Sometimes it even gets weird.
At the conference, I was lucky to hear Candace Havens give a cliff-notes version of her Fast Draft class. Throughout this class she peppered in references to her latest book: “Take It Like A Vamp” and it was during one of these references that things got uncomfortable.
The topic of the moment was the importance of beginning and ending each chapter you write with an attention-getter. She proceeded to give us an example from the first chapter of “Take It Like A Vamp”. After reciting the first line, which was certainly impressive, she flipped to the end of the chapter. After silently recalling what she had wrote, she professed to the crowd she wasn’t sure it was okay to read it in “mixed company.” Which immediately snapped EVERY ladies attention towards me. Not knowing what else to do I scanned the faces of those closest to me and innocently exclaimed, “Why is everyone looking at me!?” After the roomful of uncomfortable chuckles subsided, Candace finished her point by reading the last line of the chapter which involved the main character of her book giving her purple vibrator a name. You can only imagine the looks I received after that was read. In a matter of 15 minutes, I went from a cupcake on a fat kid’s plate to the fly in a proverbial soup. Either way I felt an outsider. Welcomed but not really belonging.
Now before we get all huggy here, I knew this would be an issue when I decided Romance was the genre I wanted to write. A large part of why I wanted to write Romance was because I wanted to prove two things: That romance is wanted from a man’s perspective and not just to get sex. Also, that men like the lusted after male characters written in this genre, do actually exist. Albeit in a watered down form. (Sorry ladies but washboard abs, raven hair and a sexy scar from childhood are things that even us men can’t hold onto for very long.)
I struggle with whether or not I will be fictionalized by my readers simply because I am a man. I mean, after-all, how can a man REALLY be sincere in writing romantic fiction?
After the purple vibrator fiasco, a very dear-hearted woman from Florida gently tapped me on the shoulder and asked, with the straightest face I’d seen since me telling my dad I was stone cold sober at the end of prom night, “So? Do you come here for the women?” After quipping, “No, for the cold cuts”, we had an interesting discussion how two guys at the Florida conference confessed they DID attend to meet women. While not surprised, I was even more frustrated. I’ve learned readers and writers of romantic fiction are protective of their inner circle. As they should be. Like some of the first female reporters on an NFL sideline, men aren’t expected, or in smaller cases, welcome here.
I feel lucky, nay blessed, to have a following which concedes it’s time to carry the believability of a fantasy a bit further by having a man write some of the stories they read. It’s a small faction. But it’s a start.
As authors, we want our stories to be believed. While the biggest complement is that the author is ignored while the story is devoured, that’s not always what happens. As a man in a romantic fiction world where women rule and defend to the death (and I’m ok with that! Just sayin’.) it’s an overwhelming undertaking to try and break through but I am more than willing to carry the weight of that world on my shoulders and see where it takes us all.
I’d really like to hear our reader’s take on this.
Until next time…
All my best,
RU Readers – what’s your take on male romance writers? Yay or Nay?
Join us on Wednesday for Jill Elizabeth Nelson and how to write Deep POV – you won’t want to miss it!
Bio: Like most of us, I’ve been around the block a time or two (or three) in the relationship world. I like to think of myself as having a pretty thick skin, however, that skin doesn’t surround the heart.
I’ve been in love; I’ve been in lust. I’ve been hurt and got up to do it all again, each time having learned more of myself as well as “wants” and “don’t wants” for my next relationship. Amazingly enough, I never gave up on that one true love wrapped in Romance. You can visit me here, at http://thedanceofromanceonline.com
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