Posted On January 4, 2013 by Print This Post

Cynicism Is Never Romantic with Handsome Hansel

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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24 Responses to “Cynicism Is Never Romantic with Handsome Hansel”

  1. What a great commentary on cynic & romantic. For years I’ve referred to myself as a fuzzy romantic wrapped in a hard, cynical shell. After all, something has to protect the heart or we’d never make it through life.

    Being a cynic hasn’t dulled my romantic nature. If anything, I find that it’s made the moments where romance and love come through *that* much more special and meaningful.

    I love writing romance and telling a story that brings two people together – no matter how flawed or cynical or romantic or scarred — they may be to find the one person meant for them. Love stories inspire. They make us believe we’re not as alone as we fear (or the world/media seems to tell us we are).

    Everybody wants somewhere to belong. Love stories remind us all that the pain of life, of growing up, of loss and tragedy and regret, can be worth it when we finally find that place and that person.

    If that’s not the best job description around, I don’t know what is.

    Julie

    Posted by Julie Harrington | January 4, 2013, 12:37 am
    • Julie,

      Happy New Year!

      Also, thank you for your kind words. I agree that the challenges we have faced in past relationships ultimately opens our eyes when we finally get it right. :)

      HH

      Posted by HH | January 4, 2013, 7:52 am
  2. Great post! I do believe in happy-ever-after, both in romance novels and in real life. I think even the most hardened cynics would LIKE to believe HEA’s exist. We hear enough of bad relationships in real life. I find it refreshing to read books that end happily. That’s one reason I love to read fiction – because anything can happen. It’s fun writing fiction, too, because if you want the hero and heroine to have a happy ending, you can make it so.

    Great post!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | January 4, 2013, 12:38 am
    • Thanks Becke!

      I too, believe that everyone has a HEA our there somewhere. Too soon people give up in the search. If we as Romance Writers can motivate them to get out there and keep looking then we’ve succeeded.

      Happy New Year!

      HH

      Posted by HH | January 4, 2013, 7:58 am
  3. On the other hand, I love a cynical hero in a romance who is turned around. Sigh.

    Posted by Blythe Gifford | January 4, 2013, 7:49 am
  4. Hi HH,

    My mother used to describe me as a brooder. I’m practical and not a romantic. My sister is cheery all the time. It’s so annoying.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | January 4, 2013, 8:34 am
    • Mary Jo,

      I have a younger brother who always seemed to get the attention as the “fun one”. I always believed it was because as siblings of the care-free brothers and sisters, we find oursleves in the responsibility of being grounded beings for all involved. Thanks so much for sharing.

      HH

      Posted by HH | January 4, 2013, 1:28 pm
  5. Morning HH!

    This still makes me laugh, but I never realized romance stories HAD to end in an HEA. I worried all the way to the end, book after book, wondering IF they were going to get together! Once I started writing, I found (for the type of romance I read and write) that they always get their HEA, or at least an HEA for now. Whew.

    I will say though, in dark times in my life, I struggle to write romance, much less romantic comedy. I’m 3/4 the way through writing a book that maybe has one snappy line in it, but several murders. =) Sometimes what’s inside really does come out…lol (yes, yes, I’m just kidding!)

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | January 4, 2013, 9:09 am
  6. *whispers to H.* Come closer… Come on, don’t be shy. You need a hug. I need a hug. Let’s hug.

    Having done that, let’s start by saying I’ve freakin missed you and your words!

    Having said that. I said it beautifully in a series of tweets yesterday, so, I’ll copy it a bit. (Forgive me.)

    I’m not perfect. I don’t pretend to be. I’ve done good things and bad things, but I don’t regret anything I have done/didn’t do.

    I’ve been broken. I’ve been burned. I’ve been abused in ways I don’t know how. I’ve always followed my heart.

    Didn’t always listen to my gut feeling though. BUT whenever something blew up in my face, it was just a minor set back.

    No need to dwell on things OR the past. Life doesn’t dwell on you. Just move on and chalk it up as a learning experience. Done!

    Point I’m making; regardless of all the bad things that have happened to me, whether by my own wrongdoing or not, I still believe in LOVE in general.

    Posted by Soraya E. | January 4, 2013, 9:44 am
    • S…It’s obvious that with the flip of the calendar to 2013 you are coming into your own! I LOVE it! You deserve all life has to give and it is beyond refreshing to hear your attitude towards the things that would devastate most people. It’s one thing to say, “These are the things in my life which have shaped me” It’s another to have the attitude, “I dare you to say something about it!” You go girl!!

      (You actually whispered in my ear….and I liked it!)

      :)

      HH

      Posted by HH | January 4, 2013, 1:31 pm
      • 2013 has indeed started out awesome and I’m very positive about things, but I have to give credit where credit is due, if it hadn’t been for the fact that I turned 25, I don’t think I would have these thought processes.

        I’m glad you heard me!

        Posted by Soraya E. | January 4, 2013, 1:52 pm
  7. HH -

    I always enjoy your columns!

    I tend to think people need the romance genre precisely because as a group we’re so cynical and are told all the reasons relationships (and everything else under the sun!) aren’t going to work. If someone out there–even make believe people–are getting their HEAs, then we have reason to believe we might too.

    I’ve talked with too many people who said romance novels got them through a very tough time in their lives to believe otherwise!

    Happy Friday,
    Kelsey

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | January 4, 2013, 9:57 am
    • Thanks so much, K!

      To reiterate, I feel we do have the hardest authoring jobs, because our stories have realistic potential. We can read a sci-fi book and come away all warm and fuzzy but it’s not a realistic chance for the reader. Yet, when they read one of our books, they DO walk away thinking it could happen to them and even wonder about the guy ahead of them in the Starbucks line if he may be the one. Our world is run on intimate relationships of all varieties. We cater to the purest of them and I’m honored to be in the same camp as you.

      All my best,

      HH

      Posted by HH | January 4, 2013, 1:48 pm
  8. What everyone desires is to be deeply loved. I don’t believe we ever give up on finding that special someone who will listen to, cherish and humor us. If they can make our toes curl in bed, all the better.

    Also, I think a 25 year relationship qualifies as long term. 3 long term relationships per life = incredible.

    Posted by Brennagee | January 4, 2013, 1:16 pm
    • Brennagee,

      Thanks. I agree that almost everyone would be thrilled with three 25 year relationships in their life. I will say however, that with age interpretations change. At the end of your life you will always wish for one long one than many short ones.

      (The pun stops here. :)

      HH

      Posted by HH | January 4, 2013, 5:08 pm
  9. I think, that maybe writing romance is the way we work through, over and around all the cynicism in the world.

    Posted by Amy Denim (@AmyDenim) | January 4, 2013, 5:03 pm
    • Amy, we write because we want to escape. Quite frankly, our readers are friendly fire to our wishes, wants and desires. We’re lucky to be writing a genre in which others are readily willing to follow!

      I love hearing from you!

      HH

      Posted by HH | January 4, 2013, 5:11 pm
  10. Hola HH!

    We are cynics and that’s exactly why we need romance. I think you can equate romance with hope. No matter how many times we’ve gotten burned, humiliated or sought revenge by envisioning the perfect karmic slapdown of the ex-hubster or girl/boyfriend, we still cling to the hope of finding that someone who “gets us”, warts and all.

    Years ago, my BFF showed up sobbing at my apartment after being dumped the week before by a man she’d been dating. To make matters worse, the guy had proposed to the other woman, a cellist with the L.A. Philharmonic, as she arrived at LAX. The local news station captured him on his knees popping the question. Talk about a double whammy. I handed my friend tissues and peanut M&Ms. After a good cry, she shot me a teary-eyed look and asked, “Do you know anyone you could set me up with?”

    We are cynics, but it’s hope that keeps us going. Terrific post. :)

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | January 4, 2013, 6:19 pm
  11. HH,

    You are so correct. In writing those soul searing moments we give ourselves hope as well as our readers. No matter what we have to believe wonderful, long-term relationships can and do happen. That happily-ever-after is possible, because deep inside, regardless of our cynicism or past experiences we still believe and hope, and hope is what makes life worth living. Hope and love.

    Posted by Tracy R | January 6, 2013, 2:08 pm
  12. HH,

    Why not write a romance for people out age who are starting over still believing in their HEA? There are so many of us and frankly as much as I love romance I think the oldest “heroine” I have ever read was 30. We are a big market and we want to believe too, that romance is for us, not just for the young.

    Posted by Tracy R | January 6, 2013, 2:14 pm

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