Why Romance Writers Write
Why romance writers write might seem like a trite question with an obvious answer but I’m not so sure. The first thing that comes to my mind as a response to ‘why writers write’ is: they want to make money. Dig a little deeper and I believe you’ll find more.
The first layer I come to is that all storytellers have wondered what their place will be in the hearts of readers. Will their works be respected, revered, or reviled? That concern (and many others) spins in my head as I type away on my current work-in-progress. A little doubt can fuel us to work harder, but too much, and we become paralyzed. Many an aspiring author never makes it past their first work because of these crushing doubts and overwhelming paralysis. The courage to submit their book to publishers is sometimes never realized. I wonder how many great stories are held hostage in the memory of a laptop or under a bed in a box or on the shelf of a closet never to see another set of eyes beside their creator—the writer.
Deeper still I come to how much the publishing industry has changed and you have a brew that has overwhelmed many a writer. For more than five centuries the printing press ruled my predecessors, my current peers and me. The digital revolution tipped the market on its end. Like any revolution there are winners and losers. Bookstores are becoming fewer and fewer in the world, just like music stores became after the advent of the iPod by Apple. New York publishers’ grip has been loosened on the fiction and non-fiction book markets, though I believe is still present. Self-publishing and small press is a viable alternative to the traditional path for success for many authors. This uncertainty confuses many and makes us have to consider the business of publishing even more than before.
In all this noise the reason of why a writer writes seems distant and unknowable. Dig deeper. The truth is so close.
Sophie Oak gave a keynote speech at The Romance Convention in Dallas this year that moved me.
Here’s a portion of her speech, “…we understand the stigma of writing genre fiction. I can go down the list of all the ways we get marginalized. We write fiction. We write genre fiction. We write women’s fiction. We write romance.”
She went on to say, “There is someone out there who needs to hear your story. There is someone who feels alone, who believes no one understands them until they find a story they can sink into and discover a character who lives and breathes their existences. This is the true power of fiction, and every reader deserves a story that becomes comfort food.”
I highly recommend her speech for any writer from novice to seasoned professional. You can find the complete speech here.
Back to the question I began with. Why do romance writers write?
I can only speak for myself about why I write and especially why I write romance fiction. The stories of my characters, each seeming so real to me, must see the light of day. It’s my purpose. It’s my joy. It’s my passion. It’s the reason I breathe and move in the world. Someone, maybe several someones, might be moved by my stories, my characters, my voice. That’s the best I can hope for.
I’m one of the lucky ones who get to earn my living writing, but if the money dried up I would still write. I must.