Am I Qualified to Write Romance?
Another Romance Author: Are you going to nationals?
ARA: I can’t either. It’s too expensive.
Me: Cost isn’t the issue.
ARA: Can’t find someone to take care of your kids?
Me: No, I don’t have kids.
ARA: Then why?
Me: I don’t have the time. It conflicts with my deadlines.
ARA: Can’t you write while you’re there?
Me: Not writing deadlines. Work deadlines.
ARA: You work?
Me: Sixty to eighty hours every week.
ARA: Can’t someone cover you?
Me: I want to remain employed.
ARA: Don’t you have vacation time? Or are you like a Wal-Mart cashier or something?
Me: I use vacation time for my block-week MBA courses.
ARA: An MBA? Isn’t that hard?
Me: No. Anyone who can cover the tuition can get an MBA.
ARA: But why waste your time on that? Don’t you want to write full-time?
Me: I want to retire at forty-five more.
ARA: Your job lets you do that?
Me: Do you really think I got a university degree to be a cashier at Wal-Mart?
ARA: Marrying rich and having kids will let you retire even sooner.
Me: Why do I need to marry rich when I’m fully capable of providing for myself? The divorce rate is over 50% and the chances of a marriage based primarily on economics has even less chance of surviving.
ARA: Isn’t it hard for you to write romance?
ARA: You can’t relate to the heroines. The ultimate fantasy is for the hero to sweep into the heroine’s life and rescue her.
Me: Intelligent, successful women can’t be romance heroines? (Of course, this sentiment must be popular judging by the number of heroines in the genre who are in financial straits and waiting for Prince Moneybags to solve their problems.)
ARA: I’m not saying that. It’s just… There’s no conflict if the heroine isn’t in trouble, if she doesn’t need the hero.
Me: And the heroine only needs the hero if she’s poor?
ARA: I’m not saying that either.
Me: You implied it, and that’s why I prefer to write suspense.
This conversation is an amalgamation of numerous exchanges I’ve had over the last year with other romance writers and readers. And I think it explains why I’ve been reading less and less romance for the last several years: I can’t relate to women who can’t balance a checkbook; I can’t relate to women who can’t budget; I can’t relate to women who think higher education, at least in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, is only for men; I can’t relate to women who don’t realize getting this thing called a job might help their finances; I can’t relate to women who think TSTL actions are cute; I can’t relate to women who think practicality kills romance. Of course, an obvious question arises: Am I, therefore, qualified to write romance?