Yay! Handsome Hansel is back with another wonderful insight into the world of writing.
At my core… I’m a Cynic. It doesn’t mean I’m a pessimist; simply that I have doubts going into something until I’m proven otherwise.
Perhaps it is because of the way I was raised, having parents who suckled me on the idea everyone is never truly who they seem to be. Or maybe it’s living a life around friends who have a revolving door mentality when it comes to their love life; NOT because their partner is imperfect but because my friends are the kind who find imperfection everywhere they look. It can also be argued I’m a bit of a Cynic because it seems wherever I look people are, for the most part, unhappy with their state in life whether it be their job, their health, or with their current relationship. You can see how easy it is for Cynicism to creep up on you if you’re not careful.
So as writers of Romance how do we keep the cynicism at bay? How do we come home after work having heard the office gossip of Susie What’sHerFace sleeping with Johnny What’sHeCalled (even though they’re both married with kids) and craft a couple of majestic chapters at our keyboard with which we’re expected to make our readers believe true, lust-filled, loyal romance exists? It’s a huge feat if you think about it. After-all, our readers come to our door cynicism in hand. It’s up to us to play escapist, therapist, and friend to our fans and readers. It’s up to us to offer up on a gilded platter between the covers of our book the hope something very similar can happen to them and in order to do that we have to believe what we write as well.
I’ll share a little something with you. I’ve been chastised a number of times by friends for using something I came up with called the “7-Billion Rule”. When I find myself within the cyclone of Cynicism I am able to be thrown from it by reminding myself there are 7 Billion people on the planet which means 7-Billion stories. So while the dozen or so people around me don’t seem content or happy, that can’t possibly mean everyone is. Just because Ronny Who’dWeCallHim has dated a new girl for each of the last seven weekends and has yet to find his “Soul-Needle” doesn’t mean it’s over for Ronny. With my 7-Billion rule he still has shy of 3.5 billion ladies to work through! There IS hope for Ronny. Now, I know it’s all a bit silly but for me it keeps things in perspective. There is always hope, we just need to know where to find it.
Before I began writing this I was motoring through my morning routine of caffeine, emails and more caffeine; all while being kept company by the Today Show playing in the background. I had already sent my topic of to Carrie here at RU but was second guessing it’s relevancy. I had a “Maybe it’s just me” moment. Then I hear a woman’s voice coming from the flat screen and I catch bits and pieces of how long term relationships are over, a thing of the past. I padded to the living room, palmed the remote and rewound the DVR. The Today Show was interviewing a woman by the name Marian Salzman. Seems she wrote a book titled, “What’s Next? What To Expect In 2013.” I couldn’t help but think: Great. A complete stranger has the next 12 months of my life figured out and I don’t even know what I’m having for lunch yet.
For the next few minutes Marian and the interviewer cover what she expects will happen with regards to the economy, food prices, gas prices, and even the environment before eventually landing on the subject which made my ears perk up: Relationships. The one quote which stood out for me was that she is convinced 75 year marriages/relationships are over. She foresees people having three 25 year relationships in their lives rather than one 75 year relationship. As she continued to explain her reasoning as to the demise of long-term relationships I couldn’t help but hear the cynicism, not only in her voice but in my head.
We’ve all been hurt, burned, spurned and spit out by relationships in our past. Personally, I thought I had it right, knew I had it wrong, and settled for what I had more times than I care to admit. (For those short bursts of relations…let’s just say Gentleman Jack isn’t as good a judge of character as he’d lead you to believe.) Yet, I believe every word I write when I write Romance. Every word, every scene, every warm steamy exhale against my character’s ear. Why? Because while there is a Cynic inside me, there is also a vulnerable person who happens to be able to put his latent optimism on the page for, not just my readers, but me as well. I want to believe as much as I want my readers to believe.
I may find some disagreement here, (what else is new?!) but I think as Romance Writers we have the hardest authoring job and here’s why: Every genre offers escapism including our own yet we are the ONLY genre where it is actually possible for us to find our happy ending. I’ll never be a CIA agent who saves the world. I’ll never be a Hobbit. I’ll never be a handsome vampire (ok there was that one Halloween) but I CAN end up with my happily-ever-after partner whose smile beats my heart and whose touch warms my soul. There is chance, there is hope, there is real possibility in our stories. So keep believing Romancers and our readers will follow!
RU Crew – do you escape into your stories? Or is it an effort to fight your inner cynic?
Ruth Harris joins us on Monday, January 7!
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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