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There’s no doubt about it. Ask any romance writer. Rejection seems like the norm in our business. And it comes in all forms – beginning with what we write.

I work with men. Alpha me-Tarzan-you-Jane kind of men. You know, now that I think of it, one of them actually scratched his unmentionables in front of me while carrying on a work-related conversation. Seriously? Did I not look like a girl that day? *Vainly shaking away the visual scarred into my memory.*

One of these guy-friends and I recently chatted about my choice of writing genre. He responded in a totally disgusted tone, “The only ones I know who read that stuff are teenage girls and women who aren’t getting any.”

So not nice. And so not the thing to say to someone who’s rather proud of the fact she writes about love – a force I believe to be the most powerful in the universe.

Yeah, I showed a lot of restraint after that comment. You all would’ve been proud of me! After I decided even a tongue-lashing would be totally wasted on his alpha-maleness, I proceeded to list the professions of women I know who do read romance. Among us are school teachers, doctors, and cleaning ladies, as well as engineers, social workers, and attorneys. We come from all walks of life, but the most important thing about us is that we are READERS. We love and appreciate a good story, and, let’s face it, a good romance helps get us through this crazy plane called “life.” Then, in my ever-so-sweet way (because that’s all I could ever be, of course :)) I suggested that my guy-friend might actually pick up a romance novel and give it a try.

Right. I’ll have to keep you posted on that one.

At the beginning of my journey it took an enormous amount of chocolate (a few extra helpings on a trying day), red wine, and plain old inner strength to get past the frowns, past the walls people erect when they clearly disapprove of my choice of writing genre. But now I choose to ignore them all. Why?

Most importantly, I get to define who I am. I refuse to give that power to anyone else. What do others know about my dreams of becoming a successful, multi-published romance author? Not as much as I do, that’s for sure. And no one has a vested interest in my life the way I do, either. No one. I make it a point to remember that.

More than half the books sold are romances. The last statistic I’d heard is that our genre generates $1.3 billion dollars in sales. Billion with a “B.” I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a lot of money. If legitimacy was based solely on dollar volume, I’d say romance has a spot.

I also remind myself that our stories give readers what they want and need – not just an escape from the sometimes harsh realities of life, but also the hope that romance can blossom and thrive even under the most difficult of circumstances. Romances not only entertain us, they give us hope that perhaps out of the chaos of our own lives, we can sort through it to find our own happily-ever-after.

So, romance writers, chin up! We are a special breed. We delve into our heroes and heroines, forcing them to face their fears, their prejudices, their misguided beliefs, so they grow throughout the story into the people they were meant to be. And in the process, they earn each other’s love (YAY!). Our heroes and heroines emerge stronger, wiser, and able to view the world from a different set of lenses than when they started, all for the better because of their journey.

Hmmm. . .. You know that character-growth thing we do in our stories? Seems an awful lot like life to me. . .. 😉

-Melia

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