It’s the second Wednesday of the month, and I was all set to write a post centered around the skill or craft aspect of The Writer’s Habit. But it’s also Valentine’s Day, and it’s the launch day of my ninth novel and eleventh book.
So, I kind of wanted to write about love.
In particular, love stories.
Despite Romance being the most popular genre, outselling just about every other genre, love stories seem to get passed off as nothing more than feel-good fluff. It’s not literature, a reviewer writes, but I liked it.
Even the tagline I use, “beach books with a brain,” is clever and fun and makes for a clear visual description. And yet, I sometimes feel guilty using it because it implies that beach reading is brainless.
And maybe for some it is.
I will tell you that I never aspired to write “literature”—I wasn’t interested in validation from my peers (although it’s always nice to be liked), and I was OK with being excluded from college reading lists (although I am proud to say that my memoir Friends of Mine made the cut in a course about the 1980s).
But I always, always want to tell a good story.
And I love writing love stories. I enjoy exploring the relationship one has with the world around her, be it love of home, of music, of food, of family. Love of self, especially. It’s not solely about the happy ending and getting what you wanted. Sometimes it’s about getting what you didn’t know you wanted, or losing what you thought you wanted. Sometimes it’s about giving what you wanted.
My husband and I were on Yellowstone Public Radio the other night (you can listen to the interview here). We told our hosts stories—about how we met, how our books came to be, how we collaborate as authors and business partners, and more. At the end, they said to us, “May you never run out of stories.”
We began as Facebook friends. And we transitioned to friends when we started reading each other’s stories. We evolved to close friends when we started telling each other stories—the stories of our past, of growing up in suburbia, of teenage angst, of favorite bands and foods and firsts.
What we didn’t realize at the time was that we were writing our own love story. And that has become my favorite love story of all time. Not because there’s a happily ever after (cue the Zen Master: “We’ll see”), but because we get to keep writing it as we go along. We get to engage in the process day after day. Some days it’s messy, and other days it’s like great jazz. It consists of good characters (flawed, yet worth rooting for), intentions and obstacles, and dialogue—lots and lots of dialogue. And we practice. Every day.
We need love stories.
These days, we need them more than ever. We need to tell our love stories, and we need to live our love stories. We cannot pass them off as “fluff,” as less than, as something not lofty because it’s not “literature.” We need love stories because we need love. Not just romance, but energy. Music. Art. Dance. Mr. Rogers. Chocolate. A sunrise and a sunset. A cat that falls asleep curled up beside you. A dog that is ecstatic to see you when you walk through the door. A stranger for whom you held open the door.
Each of these things comes with a story.
What is yours?