Why I Don’t Write Romance

Disclaimer: Please forgive my mindless banter. This post was started around, oh say three in the morning. It is now 4:30 am. It was my hope to clarify why I don’t write romance, which is a question I get quite a bit. In this piece, I take you from Point A to Point Z and somehow get back to Point A again. But it’s so late, it’s like my keyboard is on cruise control and I’m not sure where and when any transitions occur.

Thank you. And I approve this message!

I’m sure a few love scenes make their way into my stories at times. It’s just one of those aspects of human nature that can’t be ignored because it’s so everyday and real, so mundane but blissfully sweet when you have that infatuation with someone. If we go back to being thirteen for just a moment, I’m sure every one of us can remember that feeling. Maybe you can even go back to that time in your mind with your spouse before bills and all those boring adult responsibilities started to cause tension and fights and sleepless nights and “I’m sorries.” For the most part I try not to make those lovey bits about romance; I want to write horror with a realistic feel, and real to me is infatuation.

My friend and I were talking a few weeks back about my (lack of) love life. I am not interested in finding love because I’m of the belief that it will happen when it happens, IF it happens. She flattered me by telling me how “stunning” I am (Stop laughing! Yes, she said “stunning,” which reminds me I have to call her again to get another booster shot to my ego. Friends are great, aren’t they?). She said that I could have my choice of “gentlemen callers” (I’m using a term from Blanche Devereaux here in case you aren’t a hardcore Golden Girls buff). She talked about all of the things in a relationship that I’m missing out on and was curious as to why I didn’t want that in my life. The shared memories, having someone to talk to who cares when my day is bad (or good for that matter), being there for someone else. Just the general feeling of being close to someone that you love and who loves you back. In a perfect world, everyone would have his or her true match and everything would work out just like it would in the perfect romance novel. You’d get home from work and neither of you would be too tired to talk about how your day went, and someone else would actually listen to, not just hear, your problems. There would be this open line of communication and you’d just be able to pick up whenever you want and go out and do something fun without being too tired or having stress or jealousy interfere. But again, that’s assuming it’s a perfect world, and sadly it isn’t. I would rather be alone than be with someone who just isn’t right for me. And I wouldn’t want to be with someone who is so intent upon finding love that they automatically fall for me because I’m there. To really love someone, and to be able to be a good fit, I think you have to know their dreams, goals, and their heart.

My answer as to why I didn’t want all those seemingly wonderful things at this point in my life was pretty simple (including my reasoning of wanting someone who isn’t in a rush to fall in love). But for the most part, I was lucky to have had all those things in someone. At least I thought so. Not many people can say that. It was only in retrospect that I realised things weren’t peachy-keen, but in that time when happiness was mine, I lived in the moment. When I think about it, I’d never want to go back because I wasn’t happy and I know that now, but I can at least look at the good times and know what it felt like to have had those things, even if I have to remove all the questions and doubts in my mind that I didn’t piece together until after things crumbled. There were many times when I wasn’t happy, but sometimes a long talk or watching a movie together seemed to make me forget about the negative aspects of the relationship. It wasn’t true love, and I can’t even say we were soulmates. I think of a soulmate as someone who comes into your life when you need each other. It may not be for life, or even a whole day, but in this situation, I don’t think we were really connected at all. It was just all about that illusion of love and happiness that kept me in it for so long, not to mention a few of my own perceived shortcomings. I guess you could say it was a sort of self-induced infatuation, because infatuation is all about imagery. It’s all about what you see, feel, and believe in your heart, and none of it is real. And honestly, having had that mirage, even if it was just in my mind, was more than enough for me. Sidenote: The whole experience also helped me to realise what I seek in another person, even if it is a strictly-friends scenario without the potential to ever become anything more. I want someone who won’t try to change me or isolate me from friends and family because I want someone who is fine with me being a part of the world and won’t try to cut me off from it. I know that I have to be happy first because no one can make me feel that way. If someone has that much power over your emotions, they also have power over everything that you can possibly feel (and can use that to his or her advantage)! True happiness should be found within oneself before pursuing true love.

I may not have experienced love in a pure or true form, but it was something like it and it was close enough. For several idealistic yet miserable years, I stuck around and am glad to have ridded myself of that chapter in my life. I often wish I’d seen all of these things sooner, but sometimes we have to see things for what they truly are before we can really move on. If I’d gone through life believing that I’d left a good thing behind, I would still be hung up on all of the “What If’s?” If I’d never met him at all (as sometimes I wish I hadn’t!!!) I wouldn’t be able to say that I knew what it felt like to love or be loved even if it was all a facade. It’s all a part of the growing process as a person. It’s the same thing with any other mistake or personal epiphany. It’s when we don’t learn from our past when it becomes a problem, because we will end up in the same cycle on repeat.

Back on track. Where was I? I’ll just pick it up from a random place since that’s what I’m pretty much doing, anyway. I have come to realise that sometimes the times in our lives that hurt the most are the times we wish we could go back to. Maybe we forge a bond with someone and we long to feel that closeness to someone again. Maybe it reminds us of simplicity during our struggles and despite all the hardship, how much easier it was in some aspect or another. It could just be the realisation that things weren’t as bad as they seemed at the time, or possibly how remembering the bad times allows us to appreciate the NOW (though the present may not be as great and wonderful as we would like it to be).

I think those feelings of “love” are real, but while it may not be real love, I believe that real love does exist. I often see people who just get so caught up in the drama of real life that they don’t stop to appreciate not only the material things, but the people in their lives. I’ve heard romantic little stories that are said to be true, but I have yet to have seen it myself. The cynic in me wonders if a night of wine and roses might be followed up with a day of screaming matches over something someone said or a credit card bill that was overrun. That cynicism also makes me wonder if all that sweetness is to compensate for guilt or to cover something up. And maybe that’s the reason I’ve never had romance in my life. I’m just simply not open to it as anything more than a fictitious concept and a possibly deceptive decoy to distract from something else.

That’s also the reason I can’t write strictly romance. When I write anything that resembles mush, it’s usually followed up with an unexpected twist of horror. I may not have had anything that I would consider “romantic” in my life, but when I write about love, I try to convey those emotions of youthful carefree infatuation to replace it because those feelings are real. When you just want someone to love you that you think your world is going to crumble, and when they reject you your world just ends and you spend a few days picking up the pieces of your heart…Until you find someone else to replace them, and you’re suddenly riding high on life again. You got that little extra bounce in your step. You sing in the shower. You watch sappy movies and put yourself into the lead character’s role with your One&Only as your supporting role. C’mon, you know what I’m talking about even if you act like you don’t. *wink wink*
But the short of it is that I don’t believe that romance. As a concept, yes, but not as a reality. In some of my previous attempts to write romance in the past, it came off as cheesy and forced. That’s how I feel about it. Cheesy and forced and fake. Which is somewhat ironic since I can more easily write about monsters and horror and creatures that go bump in the night better than I can write about love. I just feel more comfortable with it for some unknown reason. And I might not know about monsters first-hand, but they’re in my zone of comfort because I was interested in it ever since I was a kid.

But somewhere, there are some in-print anthologies with some sappy little love stories circulating out there written by me. They were awful. Just awful. The tone was very naive and it was under romance. I had written true love stories, as per prompt for a contest. That naive tone reflected so much of what I have talked about here. About how everything was just a facade. Things are as we want to see them. If I’d known they’d have been in anthologies, I would have changed my game up a little more. I can just say that I’m thankful that they are likely out of print. That, and that I used another name to write them. Thank goodness for small miracles, right? I wouldn’t want to be associated with the same sap I no longer believe in.

Why I Write Horror

I try not to keep up with the news, but being a fairly sociable person, I find it difficult. If I don’t hear it online or on the telly, I hear it from someone and either ask details or end up looking it up online. There’s so much bad in this world. There’s so much negativity. Watching the news makes me feel like the world is such a depressing place. It doesn’t have to be, and it really isn’t when it comes down to the heart of things. It all starts with us, but on a smaller scale; it starts with an individual.

If we can do something to make someone’s day, no matter how simple it may be, that’s a start. If we can go out of our way to help someone or show a little kindness, we are already creating the kind of home we want to live in. We have to really think of the world as our home, because it is. And to think of people and regard them as we would our own family would also make such a world of difference. Well, assuming that you’re the kind of person who would treat your family members with kindness and respect. Some people are quite the opposite and would be more willing to show a stranger kindness than those who are closest to them. But I digress.

I want to live in the kind of world I envision in my mind. The “Welcome” mat would include everyone. People would smile at each other. No one would judge. There wouldn’t be any heartache or murder, although death is inevitable. Given that sad fact, why make things more difficult for each other?

I write horror because a lot of it is symbolic. Not all, but some. There are times when something has happened to me and I twist it into a metaphour. Sometimes I take everyday scenarios and psychological issues and put my own spin on it.

There was one story I wrote a while back where a girl had to make the choice between becoming possessed or committing the ultimate sin of suicide. That was in essence about the inner turmoil of religious and spiritual struggle. If you had to choose one sin over another, which would you choose? What would be the lesser evil, so to speak? In the end, she stabbed herself in the heart with a gold letter opener given to her by her father (Like, who uses those anymore?!?!? It was set in modern times but it was to give a bit of a throwback feel to old-skool, like Edgar Allan Poe). The fact that it had been given to her by her father bore the symbolism that their relationship wasn’t ideal. But it was also that letter opener that saved her from a fate so unworldly and unGodly, an nod to her father’s indirect assistance in her time of need when he wasn’t there for her physically. A sort of abandonment issue. And, of course, the gold object penetrating the heart was all about forgiveness. That act was what released her from the grip of the demons, thereby freeing her of those deep-rooted issues (i.e. “demons”). So in a way, yeah it was a happy ending. Well, of course, if you take it all on the figurative and metaphoric level. Otherwise it was just a morbid concoction of macabre.

But, that was back in the day when I tried to be all hipster-sophisticate-ModernVictorian-goth about writing. Nowadays, I just try to get into the heart of what really chills people to the bone. I adore a good scare, so I try to write things that would creep me out. I know you’re not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition, but “creep out me” just doesn’t sound right.

Anyway, I feel like there are people in this world who are so cruel and unkind, and it makes no sense to me. Maybe that’s why I prefer supernatural horror these days. It’s a bit simpler than trying to understand the human condition and sometimes using the victim of the story to convey that idea. I prefer to believe that people are kind and good, excepting those few out there. I like to manifest some of the worst fears of human nature by way of words. To me, it’s also scarier to think of something completely beyond our control and understanding, and maybe in some way, my demons and monsters are still symbolic of the dark abyss we have yet to understand, the kind of things that live inside the minds of people who are capable of committing such atrocity that the rest of us don’t want to think about.

So aside from all that, I don’t want the evils from the books I read or write to escape the pages, and I don’t want on-screen horror to make its way into real life. That’s why I write horror.

That, and because I enjoy a good scare. Especially when you are able to get a really good chill from the last line of a really great story, or those surprise scenes at the end of a movie (you know the ones, where they black it out right after showing the monster jump back up and you can only assume it killed the last of the survivors). I love the tension of it all. And the relief that can be found from knowing that it’s only a book or a movie. That’s what I want to give my readers: A heart-racing romp through the pages of my stories, after which they can find comfort in knowing that it it was only fiction.