Monday, January 4, 2021

Romance: What it is, and where to find it.

 I am not a romance reader.  At all.  Even though it turns out that one of my favorite books of all time was the pattern for all further romance novels - Jane Eyre - I didn't realize this until years later, because there was so much story and detail, and Jane herself was such a sensible, intelligent woman that the romance angle just flowed.  Reader, it flew by me. (That's some funny shit right there if you've ever read Jane Eyre.)

I like to go out of my comfort zone these days in my reading and writing.  I've even made forays into poetry, which turned out to be an amazing and wonderful thing, to my vast astonishment.  Not that I'm going to binge on the stuff, but my attitude has been reformed since the days of sixth grade, when we were all introduced to the stuff by way of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Bells" and "Annabelle Lee" and "The Raven." You know what I got out of that?

Tumpity, tumpity, tumpity tump, tumpity tumpity, tumpity tump.  Ta tump da dump, ta tump, da dump. Tumpity, tumpity, tumpity tump.


I mean, that's enough to sour anyone on the stuff.  I understand the teacher was trying to hook us with the magic of 'The Pit and the Pendulum' and 'The Cask of Amontillado' - hey, if Poe wrote cool stuff like that his poetry might not be so terrible, right?  And I'm no judge of the stuff, maybe it was good.  All I heard was kick-drum.

And I've tried writing poetry, and I don't know if it's good or bad and I certainly  am not going to inflict it on anyone because you don't just do that to people.  But it was out of my comfort zone, and it gave me a feel for the music of the language. So points for going out of your comfort zone!  It works!

I joined a writers group at one point here in Sumas, and found that it contained a group of people who never went beyond video games or anime, thought that 'Twilight' was high art, and wrote a lot of fur-fiction. You know, Shape-shifter stuff. People who could turn into bulls and horses and cats and lived in the deep wilderness in clans and had fights with other clans.  

Well, all right, I thought in those first few meetings.  This is appalling, but it's certainly  out of my comfort zone, so I tried to write a little fur fiction.  I wrote a story about a guy who could turn into a wolf.  You know, take it easy dipping my toe into the world of fur-fic.  It came out as something between 'Interview with the Vampire' and 'Trucker Serial Killer'.  It took place at a Burns Brothers (shout out to Oregon!) truck stop all-in-one, like the transcript of an oral history.

The writers group were...kind.  Apparently if you're a Shape Shifter, you live in a clan in the backwoods and have battles with other clans of Shape Shifters. You are not a Were-Wo0f.  You are a Shape Shifter.  You do not attack humans and glory in the experience.  You do not have a job.  Oh, I got a million things wrong.  I thought what I turned out was perfectly readable, if pedestrian.  It made sense to me that if you were able to change into a wolf, that you'd want to keep moving around, and have a job, and be a carnivore, and so 'murderous long haul trucker' came to mind.  

Now I am setting myself the difficult task of writing a Romance Novel.

I have never felt so intellectually challenged in my life.  When I was pregnant, in that last month, I read some Jackie Collins and Barbara Cartland out of sheer desperation and immobility.  I couldn't waddle any further than to the bookcase in the house, and all the former tenants had left behind was not cream of the crop stuff.  And I have to say that using Jane Eyre as a yardstick, Jackie Collins falls far, far from the mark.  Barbara Cartland utterly mystified me.  I found nothing whatsoever in her stories to hang my hat on.  It was like reading something that someone who understood English but came from a completely different culture would write, like, from Saturn.  They knew the language, but the societal forms where just alien as fuck.  Why do I have to read two pages worth of description of what everyone is wearing down to the type of fabric and the cut? Why is everyone a duke or a marquis or a sheikh? Why is everyone heaving and panting and yearning?  Jesus, go for a walk or something.  If you like the guy, fuckin' tell him already.  Send him a note.  LOOK AT HIM.  I mean I did not get it at all.

But I have this resolution, and I gave it a try last night.  I figured I'd use Jane Eyre as my guiding light.  Jane Eyre starts out in her childhood and explains to us how Jane got to be Jane, the boarding school, the mistreatment, the development of patience, intelligence and independence, the making of her spirit in the orphanage.  So I went to my childhood for inspiration, and I ended up in a wrecking yard going through cars looking for spare change while my dad hunted down parts to strip off the hulks.

This is not the way to start a romance novel.  Even I know that.

I mean, what even is romance?  I did not see it, except on television.  I did not have suitors, I was not particularly popular, no boys ever yearned after me (until after high school, when it stopped being an issue of getting a peer trophy to show off to the other boys - then they came a-running.  And I said no thank you, but I do seem to recall not having been good enough for you mere months ago, before graduation, and nothing's changed here.  Go along now and buy some porn.) 

So that is my question for you all.  What is ROMANCE?  


Jon said...

A fine romance, my dear Duchess
Two old fogies, we really need crutches
You're just as hard to land as the Ile de France!
I haven't got a chance; this is a fine romance

A fine romance, my good woman
My strong, aged-in-the-wood woman
You never give those orchids I send a glance
They're just like cactus plants
This is a fine romance

Darling, you just need to wear more crinoline!


anne marie in philly said...

can't help ya; I never read fiction. sorry.

savannah said...

Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters are the extents of my "romance" knowledge. Sorry, can't help ya on this one, sweetpea. xox

Ms Scarlet said...

Romance? What a question first thing on a Tuesday morning at the beginning of another national lockdown.
Erm... doomed love affairs?

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Jon: Astaire and Rogers! I think you're on to something! but No No, You Can't Make Me Wear No Crinoliiiiiiiine. Latex? Well, we'll talk.

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

anne marie in philly: WELL YOU'RE NO DAMN HELP

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Savannah: That's OK. It's the extent of my knowledge too. Although Wuthering Heights was just weird, I thought. His sister? EW.

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Ms. Scarlet: Of all the people who have showed up to the party so far I figured YOU'D be the one who could answer my question. You and your calligraphy and your pretty name, I figured you'd be up to your feather boa in suitors and champagne, and unruly horses and fans and satin and...dukes, or something. At least a margrave or two. COME ON.

Ms Scarlet said...

Er.... well, er.... journals and paper and vintage bits and bobs are romantic.... Got it..... secret letters never sent are romantic! I guess lots of things can be romantic? Unrequited love can be long as it doesn't get stalker-ish.

dinahmow said...

No, I'm not the frills-and-furbelows type either.
I've been cast as a pining maiden in the odd play or two, but that just required me to think wistfully of how much more fun I'd have had at the Rugby Club dance if I wasn't required on-stage...
And as for that Cartland woman-arggh!Old tweedy jackets that stink of horse and dung-ish tobacco and man sweat Heaven forfend!

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Ms. Scarlet: OK, I'm kinda getting the feeling...nostalgia, sweetness...craft supplies? Close? Definitely not stalkers, I agree there.

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

dinahmow: You've been cast in plays as a pining maiden? WOW. Elbow bump from America on Barbara Cartland, girl. Yeesh.