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Real writers?

I had an interesting discussion last week in my book club. We’d read The Handmaid’s Tale and were wondering about Margaret Atwood’s other works when someone said how writing one book a year was phenomenal. I pointed out that there are some authors who publish 3 a year, sometimes more, and he said, ‘Well, yes but we’re not talking pulp books here, this is real literature’. (I argued the subjectiveness of that statement and he immediately backpedaled but I think it was only because I disagreed with him.)

What does that say about our genre? No wonder romance writers have such a bad rep, especially since I highly doubt he’d had ever read a romance in his whole life. Maleness aside, I was the only one to contradict him. Does the world view us as not real writers? What actually constitutes a ‘real’ writer? If there is such a thing.

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5 Comments

  1. Kristin-Marie says:

    I’ve heard the romance genre denigrated for years, with the accusations that the writing was below the levels of other genres and sub-genres. Of course, there are phenomenal authors in romance, and sometimes they’re recategorized as ‘mainstream’ to appeal to a wider audience who distrusts romance as a genre. It is up to the collective group of authors to challenge the misassumptions that our genre has less to offer in the way of quality reading material.

  2. Denise Eagan says:

    I always figured if the words are real, then the writing is real. Last I heard, romance writers weren’t using fake words.

    All joking aside, romances provide readers hours and hours of fun and a chance to escape sometime mundane, sometimes very difficult, lives. The books have a “real” purpose in women’s very real lives. No amount of snobbery can change that.

    As for me, I have honestly read very few “real” books that have changed my perspective or given me much happiness. Generally they’re depressing as hell. Give me a romance any day.

  3. Susan Macatee says:

    I’m with you, Dee.

    ‘So called’ literary stories bore and depress me. Give me an action packed romance or sci-fi story any day.

    Since that’s what I love to read, it’s only natural that that’s what I have to write.

    And romance writer’s are called hacks just because they’re more productive than literary writers?

  4. Melinda Jane says:

    Romance writers are real writers. However, I have come to realize we should not defend ourselves or condemn literary fiction. There’s a lot more that goes on in a *Margaret Atwood* novel than say, in a Lisa Kleypas novel, and I adore both writers. One is writing serious fiction, a kind of fiction that requires a different kind of journey and thinking process. The latter is writing pure fantasy and entertainment, and that requires a whole different set of tools. Sometimes the two meet, but rarely as we think.

    There is just as much bad literature as bad romance.

    Bad writing is bad writing, whatever genre.

  5. Denise Eagan says:

    Well said, Melinda Jane. I totally agree! I don’t mean to dis the whole literary genre–it just gets irritating when those books are held up as much better than romance novels because they “say” something. I tried reading the English Patient. I really did, but I got nothing out of it except a greater appreciation of the written word.

    On the other hand, I loved Angela’s Ashes. It didn’t depress me like it ought to have. I found it uplifting.

    I think both are considered literary. If not, than maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about 🙂

    I’ve never read Margaret Atwood. I’ll give her a try.

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