Because I write in different genres (several of them romance, but also dystopian, and urban fantasy) I belong to a number of different social media groups focused around those types of books. I stumbled on a post in one of the *other* groups yesterday that shattered my romantic heart into a million tiny pieces.
It more or less said Is it wrong of me that I’m embarrassed my daughter is reading teenage romance instead of something with substance, like science fiction?
If you’re here, I assume you’ve already heard the indignation that goes with a post like that, and you probably feel the same way, so I’ll hold back most of my ranting around picking apart that statement.
Instead, I’m focused on how the entire comment broke my heart, because it hit so close to home. When I was in junior high, I *loved* the Sweet Valley High books. I read every single on the library had, and when I ran out of those, I bought the rest at my local bookstore (remember bookstores? 😉 ) Until, one day, a girl I had a great deal of respect for asked me “Why do you read those stupid things? There’s no substance to them. You’re smarter than that. I’d never read a book like that.” Etc.
It wasn’t just then, though. When I started writing, I would hear “why do you write romance? That’s stupid.” On, and on, and on. That post on Facebook yesterday brought all of that rushing back, and I felt so bad for that woman’s daughter. Because some people are strong and stubborn enough to push past that kind of negative backlash, but not everyone is.
For me, it started with hiding the books. And then I stopped buying them. Stopped checking them out. Stopped reading them altogether. Until finally, I didn’t even want romantic subplots in my writing, because if everyone around me said it was useless fluff, they must be right. Weren’t they?
It took me more than a decade to move past that block and insecurity. When I started reading and writing romance, it was tentatively at first. And now I remember what I was missing. I love love stories. Heart wrenching, sexy, sweet, angsty, fall in love and find happily ever after tales. Even if real life doesn’t always work that way, I’ve never seen a space ship to Mars packed with life pods and stasis chambers in real life either.
So my plea is, please stop judging people for what they read (I don’t care if it’s romance, sci-fi, non-fiction, cook books, graphic novels, or street maps). Don’t kill someone’s passion because it’s not yours.