NECRWA Conference

This past weekend was the New England Chapter of Romance Writers of America’s writing conference. This was my third time going (last year I took a year off), and I think it was one of the best! You could tell the ladies of NECRWA worked really hard to make the conference work and go smoothly, and it did. I had so much fun, and I really felt like I learned a lot. This time, the learning wasn’t exactly about my writing, per se. It was more about myself, and my idea of myself as a writer. I run into a lot of resistance because I have a view of who I should be that does not always coincide with who I am. For some reason, I don’t feel like it’s OK to write what I truly enjoy, the stories that are in my heart. I feel like I have to write something “important.” And of course, that makes my writing stilted and artificial.

I enjoy writing all kinds of stories. Science fiction, historical, contemporary. And romance. Yes, I DO write romance. But I resist it. I tell myself that real writers don’t write romance. I listen to the people when they tell me that romance is the brothel of the commercial fiction ghetto. I let myself become convinced that I’m somehow bigger than that. Bigger. I don’t know what that means. I don’t even know what the goal of being bigger is, but I catch myself trying to convince me that I am just not that kind of girl…

Then this weekend I noticed something.

The world is full of disaster. Earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorism, gas price gouging, starvation, inflation, lay offs, child abuse…the list is endless. Yet in the midst of all of this, this past weekend, two people who were in love with each other DARED to get married. How could they? I heard this a lot. “Oh, that royal wedding, who care? Like there isn’t anything more important to do or watch?” Insults were everywhere, and yes, I agree, Princess Beatrice’s hat… *shudder*. And I was right in line. “Look at all this news about a stupid wedding. People are dying, starving, being killed by natural disasters!” I was SO not going to watch it.

But then, at about 11PM, in my room at the Salem Inn, I did watch it. There was nothing else on, and I wanted to make fun of the hats. And I did! For about five minutes. Then I became entranced. And I realized, how is focusing so much on the negative going to change the world for the better? These two kids were glowing! Nervous, looking a little petrified at times, but they were happy! And how dare we put that down? Yes, sure, it was extravagant and royal, and over the top. But for a little while, we could shift our eyes away from the bad news, and see something POSITIVE happening. We could see some hope made public. Since when has hope and joy become out of style?

I’m a cynical bitch, and always have been. I’m not that into cute. But really, do we have to hate happiness so strongly? Why do I feel like I have to despise things that are sentimental? What has happened to me over the past few years? Well, a lot. I’ve lost many family members over the past five years, and I’ve been through a failed adoption. I have seen family and friends going through hells of all kinds. And I think I am just afraid of letting go of my prickly side at all because I need those prickles! Without them, I could be damaged yet again.

Well, this weekend, I have decided that I will dare to be happy. I will dare to let go of my cynicism, I will dare to write a happy ending. Because, dammit, people NEED more happy endings in this world. We need hope. People will say it is not realistic–who are they to say? If more people decide to be happy, instead of grouchy and cynical and nasty, then a happy ending IS possible. But people are too damn afraid of being hurt. They may claim that it’s not true, but they are not being realistic. I invite you to think really hard about WHY you might be cynical, why you might put something down. Chances are that it’s because that person has something you don’t have. You are afraid you will never have happiness, and so you actively shun it in order to protect yourself. I’ve decided that I don’t want to do that anymore.

I’m giving myself sort of a ninety day challenge. I’m going to write a happy damn story. With a happy ending. That might, hopefully, make someone else happy. Because if we can’t even HOPE that something good will happen to us, what kind of world is this?

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