Jonathan Franzen, Freedom author, has an excellent article in the New York Times about “liking” vs loving, and how we must be brave enough to love deeply and risk rejection. It’s a great piece for our facebook and twitter-centric culture, but it also encompasses the struggle of the hero and heroine in romance novels rather nicely. Franzen writes eloquently:
Love is about bottomless empathy, born out of the heartâ€™s revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are…. to love a specific person, and to identify with his or her struggles and joys as if they were your own, you have to surrender some of your self.
In Romance, the hero and heroine always have to give up some control or face their deepest fears of rejection and loneliness to triumph in the end. Love is a risk, and the promise of the genre is that taking that risk will lift us up to overcome adversity and make our lives better. Good will vanquish evil, but only through the power of love. Love makes us stronger, but first it forces us to face the darkest corners of our heart.
I haven’t yet read Freedom, but I liked Franzen’s essay so much that I plan to fix that error shortly.
In other news, yesterday brought another slur against Romance Novels in the form of a self-help article. You can read more about the bruhaha at DearAuthor, but the gist of it was that Romance Readers = addicts and cheaters. I agree with Jane at DA that tweeting this kind of drivel only gets that kind of backwards thinking more publicity. How many people would have read the article if the romance community hadn’t risen up in arms? But maybe one or two romance readers who had been feeling guilty were comforted by our brave defense of the genre. Who knows. When I first started reading romance, I felt the need to justify the genre and my writing. I don’t any longer. Anyone who slams an entire genre and disparages millions of readers doesn’t deserve the time of day. But it’s easy to make fun of something women like. Feminism doesn’t mean you burn bras and hate men. Feminism is standing up for woman as deserving of equal respect and equal rights as men. In my humble opinion, the Romance Genre today is about FEMALE EMPOWERMENT. Love is not a soft emotion. Love takes a hell of a lot more courage than hate or indifference (see Franzen article above).
So it is with great pride that I say I am a romance reader and writer, because I believe in the saving power of love. Who’s with me?