It's been so long since someone insulted the romance genre to my face that when it happened yesterday, I'm pretty sure I visibly winced. Then I obsessed on the incident--although it doesn't really qualify as an incident--for the rest of the day. I finally let it go. Until I pondered this morning's blog topic. *g* It will be a short rant. Swear.
So there I was, knocking on the door of the photographer who'd taken my new publicity shots. He'd burned the proofs to a CD so I could take them home and view at my leisure. I needed to choose my top three or four favorites. Those are the ones he'd retouch (read: work magic) and I'd utilize for future promo.
Anyhoo, the photographer invited me in and introduced me to the young couple sitting in his office. I assumed they were there to talk about their wedding pictures as Greg (the photographer) had told me that morning that he was working on fifteen different wedding projects. We traded friendly greetings as Greg located my CD.
Greg: "Beth's here to pick up her publicity shots. She's an author. She writes romance novels."
The Groom: (big smile, loud voice) So, you write those trashy romance novels!
Here's where I'm pretty sure I visibly winced. I know I flushed. It felt like a personal insult on my writing. Which is stupid. He's never read my work. Probably never read a romance novel. Hence he wasn't qualified to have an opinion on the quality level or entertainment value of a (any) romance novel. Basically, he had a knee jerk reaction to the term 'romance novel'. He merely responded with one of the two most commonly related cliches. The other, of course, being bodice-ripper.
There was a pregenant pause as I wrestled with my response. It wasn't an intentional slight, I told myself, just a thoughtless quip. Greg looked uncomfortable. The bride looked uncomfortable. The groom looked clueless.
Me: (forcing a smile) "No, I don't write trash. I write about people falling in love."
The Groom: (still smiling, still loud) "What then? No Fabio on your cover?"
I resited the urge to suggest he get his head out of his butt and the 1980s. "Alas," I said, "I believe the man has retired from cover modeling." I then thanked Greg for the CD, apologized for interrupting their meeting and left.
I swear, the groom had no idea that he'd ticked me off, but I'm almost positive the bride sensed it and knew the reason. I'm kind of hoping that she pointed out his thoughtless 'quip'. "You intimated what that she writes trash."
Hello. Look the word up in the dictionary, dude.
This is why when someone asks what I write, I never respond "romance novels". The unenlightened will automatically think 'trashy romance' or 'bodice-ripper'. Antiquated cliches that I fear will never die. Many won't even mean it as derogatory. Those are just catch phrases that sadly got linked long ago. Romance Novel. Trashy. Bodice-ripper.
When someone asks what I write, I always say Romantic Fiction, and I never get one of those cliches in response. More proof that those cliches are often knee-jerk responses. I could go on and on about the validity of the genre I write and read (believe me, I went on and on in my head yesterday), but the point is, words only have the power that we allow them.
Growing up, my mom taught us kids that calling any one any name was wrong. If someone called us a name, she suggested we turn the other cheek, take the high road... she had her own arsenal of cliches. I chanted one of her faves as I walked out that door, leaving the insensitive groom behind. "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."
I'm thinking the one I should feel bad for is that bride. Her new husband isn't exactly Mr. Smooth.