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Romance Writers And Their Shame… Why?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Posted in: Uncategorized

You know what, I get sick and tired of some romance writers having this almost obsessive need to be taken seriously by the literary world.

Everywhere I turn, there seems to be some author or other moaning about how they are ashamed to write romance books, because of this reason, or that reason. I suspect this is mainly because they feel that the Chuck Palahniuks of this world will probably never read what they write. And so what?

Some even have the gall to blame it on other authors who don’t act maturely enough! According to Brenda Coulter anyway, (sorry, not linking) who in one of her blog entries, lambasted authors at a convention who were ogling a bunch of firemen like teenagers. Apparently she thought this mode of behaviour was one of the reasons why romance writers can’t be taken seriously. Go figure.

But she does write inspirational romance, so perhaps this viewpoint is par for the course anyway.

Of course Brenda isn’t the only ‘bah humbug’ romance author out there, it wasn’t that long ago that Kassia Krozser had her little Rant about being ashamed of reading and writing romance. I had my little say on that of course, and suggested that maybe she find another career that didn’t shame her as much.

Yesterday’s Romancing The Blog column was written by the Two Scott’s, Scott Pomfrett, and Scott Whittier. They are the pioneering authors of gay romance stories.

It was gratifying to see that instead of whinging about how they would never make it onto Oprah’s book list, they wrote about the pride they experience as romance writers, in a genre that seems to be full of shame and blame.

Why can’t all other romance writers have their attitude?

This is what I wrote in response to their column:

Bravo guys!!! At last, romance authors who aren’t ashamed to write and read romance books!!

As a reader, I’ve gotten quite sick of the sometimes self-absorbed, woe-is-me attitude, of some of the romance authors (yep some of them are columnists here) who are quite happy to tell us that they are ashamed of the genre, and that A, it’s the fault of other romance authors behaviour, B, It’s the fault of some of the Barbara Cartland type books that still exist today.

I’ve never understood the need for romance writers to gain acceptance from the literary world.

We all know that there are critically acclaimed authors out there, who just can’t sell their books to the average joe, despite the proclaimed brilliance of their work. Their books may tap into the social consciousness of the world we live in, but in reality, their sales figures sucks ass, thus they starve.

As a British woman, in the aftermath of the London bombings, what kind of book am I likely to pick up? Am I likely to pick up a book about people getting murdered, or will I want to escape the harsh realities and indulge in a good old fashioned romance? For me personally, the romance novel wins every time.

Some romance authors need to learn that the books that they write can impact people on a more fundamental level, than the latest Tom Clancy blockbuster.

Kudos on being pioneers who show no shame. You are a great example to other romance writers out there.

For me it’s simple, if you don’t like what you read, either don’t read it, or write something better. If you’re ashamed to be a writer of romance, then how about trying your hand at accountancy?


  • LaShaunda
    July 13
    7:46 pm

    Hi Karen,

    Are you ashamed is the topic of my blog today.

    I too get sick of hearing this from writers. Move on to another genre.

    There are plenty of us who will take your slot.

    I read all kinds of genres, but Romance is the tops.



  • Anne
    July 13
    7:50 pm

    I absolutely must comment (big shock huh?) Well, I look at it this way… as an aspiring writer, I am NOT going to write something that I will be ashamed of. If authors out there aren’t proud of what they are doing and their fellow authors in the same genre, then they need to get in a different line of work, or start writing something other than romance. Seriously, if you’re too ashamed about what you write, you shouldn’t be writing it because you don’t believe in what you’re writing.. and you’re only writing to make money or for the “fame”. If that’s the case, you probably should be ashamed because your book would be so much better if you believed in what you write and took pride in it. If I don’t take pride in what I write and get to the point where I’m writing for just the fame or fortune of it.. I hope I’m wise enough to stop writing because it’s pretty much a guarantee that my books are gonna suck cause my heart’s not in it.


  • Eve Vaughn
    July 13
    8:06 pm

    Here here Karen!!! I’m not ashamed to tell people what I write. My husband’s grandma always asks me in quaint little New York Dutch accent “Hey are you still writing that porn?” And then I say, “Yes, grandma, and I get paid for it too.” 😀


  • Paz
    July 13
    10:31 pm

    Good answer, Eve! 😉


  • Tammy
    July 13
    10:57 pm

    Hi Karen, I read the Brenda Coulter comments when you linked to them in one of your other posts, she comes off as being kinda anal and not a little sanctimonious. I agree with you, it seems a little silly that a writer can be ashamed of what they write, that’s just plain crazy.


  • Ann Wesley Hardin
    July 13
    11:37 pm

    As not only a romance writer, but a writer of what many would call smut, I’ve found that the way I present it to people is what matters most. I’m proud of my stories, very proud of being published and think that not only is falling in love the most important, life altering experience a person can have, it’s also the most adventurous and dangerous.

    Many people would rather die than expose their emotions!

    Anyway, when people ask me what I write I say, “Romance. The best subject in the world.” And when they ask me more, I tell them I write erotic (or hot, spicy, steamy, smutty – whatever word, or tone, fits the particular situation).

    I have to say most people react very positively. Men especially *gg*. They admire a woman who isn’t afraid to explore that side of life, and most of the women I know have a secret, giggly yen for it.

    The way RWA and some of its authors are demanding respect is worrisome to me. You don’t demand respect, you command it. And one of the best ways to do this is to make no excuses, no explanations. Offer no defense. State your purpose with pride. This is what I do, and I love it and if you read it, so will you.

    That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it *gggg*

    LOVE this topic!


  • byrdloves2read
    July 13
    11:49 pm

    I used to disdain romance books, but have since gotten hooked on them. As AWH said, falling in love is the most important thing. It’s heartwarming to read about it. And I’m a sucker for a happy ending.
    For some reason, I was reminded of a funny Brit show from 10 years ago or so called “You must be the Husband”. The wife was a romance writer and the husband didn’t know about it until she was published. He got caught reading her book in the park and had to hide his reaction behind his briefcase! Hilarious scene.


  • Marianne LaCroix
    July 14
    12:30 am

    I love reading romance. I love writing romance. I don’t see it as something to be ashamed of. I don’t see why any author can down the genre that pays for thie home, food, and lifestyle. Unbelievable.

    You should see my father in law announce to his friends (while I am sitting there) about his daughter in law that writes sex…and they all want to know what it is I write. I think it is funny.


  • Rocio
    July 14
    12:35 am

    I hate to agree with you, but you are quite right in this point. These books are suppose to be inspiring, motivating…It’s a big dissapointment to hear the writer is kind of ashame of it..where do that let us, reader who picked those books!
    It is a shame to hear some people that actually don’t read romantic attacking the genre, but to hear that from the very authors is unbelievable!!!


  • Sarah McCarty
    July 14
    11:18 am

    Hmm, I find it hard to understand. I don’t care what genre an author writes in, (Each genre or style has its own rules that must be adhered to) whether it’s romance or literary fiction, it’s damned hard to pull off a book that captures reader’s attention and brings them back for more. That’s why I don’t understand all this genre snobbery and anxiety. Bottom line, I love to read a great romance. There’s just nothing to compare to the feeling you get after being taken on the perfect “escape” except maybe when readers and reviewers tell me I’ve written one. Then I feel like I’ve just climbed Mt. Everest (quite an accomplishment for a woman of my proportions *G*)

    I guess I’m of the mind set that the only thing any writer has to be ashamed of, no matter what genre they write in, is basically, not taking the time to write the best book they can. A pretty narrow focus, I know, and one which probably explains why genre doesn’t bother me. I’m too damned stressed over each and every individual story to worry about whether my genre is acceptable. *G*

    Sarah, laughing at self


  • Jill
    July 14
    2:53 pm

    AMEN!!!!! I love reading romances and I love writing them. What isn’t there to love? You get to read great characters, great sex, and also get a happily ever after. Perfect!


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