Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I Am Grateful Because...

There are other blogs. As I was making comments on a romance blog, Smart Bitches (there’s a link on our sidebar), I was thinking how wonderful it is that finally, finally, we who read romances and love romances have places where we can talk about romances.

You might think that editorial meetings provide that place, but editorial discussions often center on what is wrong with a particular manuscript, not on what each of us has read and what we thought of it. And heck, not all romance readers are editors or are editing romances.

Writers’ conferences don’t provide that place either. Writers talk about what’s hot and who’s accepting manuscripts, and about plot structure and building characters. At conferences (or at monthly RWA chapter meetings, for that matter) they very seldom talk about thematic issues within romances, either those they have read or those they have written. Another barren venue for discussing romance.

At romance fan conventions (of which there are very few) the talk seems dominated by shallow chatter about what is liked, without any introspection or intellectualizing, or any attempt to understand what a romance is or means personally or in the larger culture. And then these cons are famous for various silly group entertainments like male model contests. Not a lot of thoughtful parsing of romances going on here.

But on the Internet, the lovely Internet, there are websites devoted to talk about romance. Serious talk, frivolous talk, lusty talk, restrained talk. And there are many, many topics to which just about anyone can add her (or his) two cents worth.

It’s a great feeling to be able to say things one has thought while reading a romance, things that one’s Significant Other, while a lovely fellow, just isn’t terribly interested in hearing or even in thinking about. It’s also encouraging to read intelligent, witty comments by other romance fans, and be reassured that unlike the media’s portrayal of us, we aren’t all brain dead women. (But we mostly are women, I’ll grant that.)

Years ago, I read gothic novels and thought about their recurring themes and even wrote down many of my thoughts. But I had nowhere to go with either my thoughts or my essays. I did not know anyone who read gothics. (Or if I did, we kept our reading habits secret from each other.) There were no publications dedicated to romance. The occasional mention of romance in book reviews was pretty uniformly patronizing, too, which hardly encouraged me to mail in my Deep Thoughts about my despised genre. But today, I’m feeling pretty happy about the possibility of sharing some of my thoughts about gothic romances with you at some point in the future.

Sure, Internet blogging can swallow up your day if you let it, just as merely visiting interesting sites can. But to know that at any time of day you can find a romance topic on some site, either a zine or a blog, and you can probably post your own comments—-well, I’m grateful.
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