(And I didn't loose it after all - thank you autosave!)
As I blog hop around, one of the current and consistent complaints on writer blogs and apparently on writers groups lists is that romance authors aren’t getting the respect they feel they deserve as writers. But since I am a reader, I’m more concerned with the lack of respect that readers of romance get. And writers think they have it bad? Well IMO readers have it just as bad. As readers, we are faced with potential scorn every time we purchase a romance book at a book tore. And it doesn’t even have to be a book with one of “those” covers. I don’t think there is one among us who hasn’t experienced some kind of nasty comment or raised eyebrow on our choice of reading material at one time or another. I’ve had them a few times. One time I was in the bookstore looking for a romance author who had recently moved to hardcover – can’t remember which author it was now, but the sales clerk who was helping me, almost gave me a disdainful sniff and said she didn’t think romance writers deserved to have their books in hardcover. Now whoever the author was, probably would have been very hurt with this attitude and angry by this comment – as well she should have – but the author will never know. But me, as a reader, was very angered by it. Of course when confronted by this kind of disdain, I can never think of a snappy comment or excellent zinger in return. I always think of great lines later but it wouldn’t be too effective if I pulled out a list on paper and read some of them off.
And how many romance readers are still “n the closet” because they’re not sure what the reaction of friends or co-workers might be? While not in the closet exactly, I don’t broadcast the type of book I read. I don’t promote romance except with fellow readers. When I’ve told people in the past, on occasion, I have gotten that look that somehow I lost a bit of intelligence in their eyes. Co-workers can be brutal to tell. At my previous place of employment, everyone pretty much knew, but it was a slow telling – and I never did find another romance reader there. I’ve come out and my circle of friends all now what I love to read. I recently had occasion to be driving with a co-worker at my new place of employment. We started talking books – she’s quite a reader too it turns out. I took a deep breath hesitated for a few seconds and said, “OK confession time here. I read romance books. I’m balmy about romance books. In fact I have over 2,000 romance books in my collection. I even read Harlequin books sometimes” I let out the deep breath and she looked at me a bit oddly waited a couple of minutes and said “I thought you were going to tell me you’re gay or something, which would have surprised me because I know you’re married and have kids”. We both got quite a chuckle out of it.
But why was it such a big deal for me to tell her? Well, part of it in the general sense is I’m totally a wimp; yeah, I know – but hey some of us have to carry that banner of whimphood. In fact it’s much easier to tell people I’m a wimp and damn proud of it than it is to tell them I love romance and I’m damn proud of it. My family of course know, and some are the most scornful. And it bothers me. A lot. I guess I don’t want the same kind of thing happening from people who don’t know me and love me so well. I don’t mean to sound whiny here – hey that’s just the way it is.
So to authors – I know it bothers them a lot of them when they don’t get no respect. But they ain’t the only ones in that boat. Readers, the ones who buy authors books can’t get no respect either.