Tuesday, October 27

I Bring the Happy...

I’ve been thinking a lot about the new book, well, books. I haven't been writing much and I know that a lot of that has to do with the fact that I'm still grieving Kate, but it's also that I've let other stuff take priority, mostly the paying gigs. I love editing, especially romance novels and now I'm getting to do so much more of that kind of work. I'm amazed at how much romance is out there and how much more respect romance novelists are getting.

In April, at the IRWA miniconference, Lani Diane Rich reminded us that what we do is important work–it’s bringing joy and escape and love to people’s lives. Confession? I often feel the need to apologize for my books. How dumb is that? Sister Kate would probably smack me upside the head if she were here. Hell, she was the one who went all around a restaurant passing out my swag and telling people that her little sister was writer and had a new book coming out. Gotta tell you, I loved that day!

But here’s the thing. Whenever I tell people that the title of one of my books is Sex and the Widow Miles, I always feel compelled to explain that the title comes from the old movie from the sixties–Sex and the Single Girl. (Lani, if you’re reading this, I know you’re rolling your eyes and I totally don’t blame you.) So why do I do that? I don’t owe anyone a damned excuse because my book title has the word (shhh!) sex in it. Frankly, not only does the title have SEX in it, the book has SEX in it. Great sexy sex, I might add–sensual, loving sex.

Sometimes when someone asks about my writing and I say I’m a romance novelist, the first thing they say is “Oh, dirty books,” and they snicker. I quickly say, “No, not dirty books…” and hurry to explain why my books aren’t dirty books. They aren’t, but that’s not the point. The point is I’m explaining myself again, instead if looking them right in the eye and asking, “What am I supposed to say to that?” or engaing them by asking them what they’re reading. Lani told us that those kinds of sniggering questions can be an opportunity to educate people about romance and what a gift romance novels are to readers. Explain how important my work is to the world. And if it’s clear the person is not at all educable, then walk away and go get another glass of wine.

 The best thing that Lani said and one of the big things we all took away that day in April was this, “We get to do this. Because we’re writers, we get to do this amazing thing every day!” So no need to apologize or let anyone diminish me and the significance of what I write… because I am a great writer.

21 comments:

  1. I remember Lani saying that. Such a good reminder of how lucky we are! Love your post.

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  2. Thanks, Liz! You are living proof of how lucky we are!

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  3. some days it's easier to remember the lucky part, but you're right. We are incredibly blessed (and lucky) to be able to do what we love for a living! Great post, Nan!

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    1. Well, I'm not quite writing for a living yet, Kristi, but I think for me, the editing romantic fiction counts too because I love it! Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Lani and Alastair were very empowering for us as romance writers! Nan, perhaps your instinct to downplay is less being insecure about your chosen genre and more a humble personality trait? I know I find myself downplaying most aspects of my life... I'm "just" an admin at my day job... I'm "just" a mother and wife...

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    1. Oh, ow, you just struck home, Ava! I've stopped myself from saying I "just write romance" about a gazillion times.

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    2. Yeah, Ava, you're probably right on the mark. I kind of do downplay a lot of things I do--and I should be proud of being a damn fine editor as well as a romance writer. We should agree to take the word "just" out of our lexicon when we're talking about what we do. You guys in?

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  5. Great thoughts to ponder. One of my friends came up to me the other day and said, "Hi, there, famous bestselling author." Do you know what I did? I told her that I wasn't and I was "just" a writer. OMG!! It was a moment of clarity, because I am a bestselling author! Famous? Nope, lol! But I'm proud of what I've accomplished and my friend had to remind me.

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    1. Own it, Mary! Be proud of being a bestselling author--that's huge! Most people in the world will never ever write a book, let alone be a bestselling writer. Good for you, baby!

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  6. I re-read some notes from Lani's revision class at the weekend. At the end she'd said, You are a writer. Own it. It's part of who you are. I thought about this and realized being a writer now fills a greater percentage of who I am than any other thing. Scary. But kind of good too. :)

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    1. It's a good thing, Roben! You are a good writer and clearly a lot of people agree because you keep getting books published and sold. That's great! Yup, own it! ;-) Thanks for stopping by, sweets!

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  7. Great blog post! I heartily agree that romance as a category is starting to earn some respect in many circles. Keep writing!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Anne! So glad to welcome you to the round pen! We'll keep writing, probably even if people didn't love a good love story. It's in our blood! ;-)

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  8. I've been told that many times and I counter with I wonder why 64% of all books sold are romance? I usually get back a really? Some people. Keep on doing your thing.

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    1. Great response, Vicki! Thanks for coming by and congratulations on the Season of Surprises holiday anthology! I wish you all the best with it. Lizzie! Another Christmas anthology for you, baby!

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  9. Great reminder, Nan. And I love the idea of taking "just" out of our dialogue. Because if we can't be proud of our accomplishments--whether it's finishing a manuscript or selling a car--no I'm not a car salesman--who is going to be? If we treat our accomplishments/goals like they're nothing, then that's how others will respond. Mmmm

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    1. That's right, Margie!! I love your analogy!

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  10. Thanks for the reminder. If people aren't belittling what we do, we have a tendency to do it to ourselves. But let's not forget our waiter at the Cheesecake Factory who was suitably impressed that we were all writers. Some folks will put us down while others stand back in awe. Those are the ones we need to remember.

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    1. Ah yes, Brandon--he was impressed, wasn't he? ;-) Thanks for coming by, Cheryl, and for the reminder that we are awesome!

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  11. Your books are wonderful! Make no excuses for them. My mom kept calling me a "success" and I kept saying, "No, I've just had a few books published. In this business, that doesn't equal success." And then I realized that I needed to own it, and say, "THANK YOU" instead.

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    1. Thank you, Deb! So glad you stopped by and baby, you're a great writer and that automatically makes you a success!

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