Why I Write Romance
I’m standing at the bar. My feet are killing me. I need a drink. Now. The mirrored wall behind the counter confirms my need. Flat hair, washed out make-up. It’s been a long day, people. This is a dangerous situation.
The lone barman is dealing with a bimbo who does not know what she wants. Now remember, my feet are throbbing and I am thirsty.
Inevitably, my fellow patrons start making conversation. I smile. I nod. I look vague. They persist.
“So what do you do?” My worst question ever, but I smile. “I write.” I telepathically reach out to the bartender. “Really, what do you write?”
My second-worst question. Did I mention I hate talking to people in queues, in shops, in bars? I don’t talk. I observe, I eavesdrop, and then I write stories about them the next day. I make their lives horrible, their spouses mean and their jobs administrative. But, he is eager. Waiting for my reply.
“I write books.” Feet throb, throb, throbbing. “What kind of books?” “The ones without pictures?” I don’t say this out loud. Sad, I know. “I write romance.” His eyebrows pop up. Smile widens. It is coming. “Why romance? Don’t you have enough romance in your own life?” He says this while waggling his eyebrows. And then I just die, slowly, with a self-impaled stiletto in my heart. Not really. Instead, I mumble something about happy endings and rugby-tackle the barman. Because I know what he is going to ask next. “Do you base your sex scenes on your own experiences?”
Generally, I burst out laughing, but with my feet feeling the way they do I might not be that magnanimous. Next time I will say I am unemployed. No one seems to think writing is job anyway.
Do I Need Experience?
But seriously, do I have to kill 20 people in a ritualistic fashion before I can write a book about a serial killer? Do I have to have a sex change before I can write from a man’s point of view? Do I need to eat my team mates before I can write about survival on a cold mountain?
Of course, first-hand knowledge is amazing. The authenticity will give you an edge.
But, I am a writer. I have an imagination. And I have Google. That said it isn’t easy not to write about yourself, especially if it is a topic or a story that you are very familiar with and especially if you are working on your first or second book.
I don’t know if E.L James had hands-on experience to write 50 Shades. I don’t think Stephen King has ever met any of the creatures he has created. And I don’t know when Ian Fleming would have had time to write, while he was being a super spy.
I don’t write memoirs, people. I write romance, because I like romance. Anyway, I am not nearly supple enough.
TOP TIP: If you want to learn how to write a romance, sign up for our online course, This Kiss.
by Mia Botha
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