A couple of weeks ago I told my friend Dennis I was tired of working in an office and I wanted to stay home and crank out several romance novels every year instead. I chose this particular genre because I find it formulaic, popular (read lucrative) and intellectually simple. I also imagined that by injecting the occasional period setting, I could happily spend hours and hours learning the details of certain historic and cultural eras.
Sometimes, I'm a snotty bitch.
Dennis is a good soul. He said I needed to set a deadline, show him my first five pages, and in the spirit of good sportspersonship he would play, too. And so was born Romance Challenge 2008. On Saturday, February 2nd, 2008 at high noon we are meeting at Street Side in the back horseshoe booth with the first 5 pages of our original romance novels. The idea is catching on like wildfire among the drunky, boho neighborhoodies -- after all, we have to find something else to do with our hands and mouths now that we can no longer smoke anywhere -- and we're expecting a small crowd.
An unexpected treat is all of the fun we're having pointing out some of the flotsam and jetsam of random conversations that should be used as first lines or titles like, "Sweaty Breasts and Cigarettes" or "I felt like I was riding a very erotic horse" or "I realized she was probably a man, but we had a good time so I asked her out again." (By the way, those are all copyrighted snippets, so no plagery, please.)
But therein lies the crux of Romance Challenge 2008 for me. I want to write a pure, sweet -- hopefully highly readable and intellectually stimulating -- romance novel. I want to be pure to the genre. I realize I've spent this lifetime smothering nearly every romantic sentiment or impulse I've ever had and I think I would be cheating myself if I didn't give in to that strange, stereotypically soft and feminine and foreign mood, at least once. Even if I only do it on paper.
And it's difficult. Everything I've come up with so far smacks of cynical satire. But I will not give in to my monkey mind's desire to protect me from flowering into a silly, vulnerable fool. I will write a fucking love story even if it makes me weep.