Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Romance: Truth or Fiction

“My mom writes romance novels.”

Do you know how hard that is to say when you are in your early 20s?

People conjure up the hot and steamy sex scenes, and immediately you know they are thinking about you, your mom, and sex!

I often got asked if I read her work. Early on I had to answer yes. I had been trying to support her and provide feedback.

But I was not her ideal audience. I knew nothing about romance novels. I had never read any.

And, by the way, never read anything she wrote that made me do more than blush a bit.

As her confidence in her writing grew so did her connections to other romance writers. She developed a network of authors, editors, critics, and friends. They took over the role of supporting her in ways I had done as she just started out.

But, I heard story lines and character sketches, and knew when the plot took a new twist. I heard when she had a fresh idea for a new paranormal romance set in England. And I loved that she was writing. I was also glad she wasn’t reading the damned things as much. I gloried in the fact that she was using her creative energy; she’s a visual artist, too.

And if I swap between using present tense and past, it is because I do not know if she is here or not. She died in 2008. But I still feel her with me, and so sometimes it is hard to pull away enough to say “she was a visual artist” especially when I live in a museum filled with her vision. Landscapes of coasts and countryside. Birds, flowers, family portraits. A series examining the Civil War. Creation. A textile print. A sculpture of dancers.

Now I have an idea to share in her work, her vision and her creative energy. It's an idea to un-do the romance. Not to shatter her work but to shift its composition. A partnership between me, my mother, and our words.

What do you think of romance novels? Are the cliché? Formulaic? Dastardly? Uplifting? Do they offer truth or a saga?

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