To this we must add music. Shakespeare has known this for 400 years: ‘If music be the food of love, play on’. But it must be exactly the right kind of music - that old Glenn Miller swing classic ‘In the Mood’ is far too energetic, while Jeanette Macdonald and Nelson Eddy might be a tad kitsch. Frank Sinatra knew a thing or two about love songs.
Romance writers make the most of every opportunity to incorporate such archetypal images of love into each story. But do they feature in our day-to-day lives?
For example, do we look as if we focus on romance? The corporate world has a dress code. Cyclists wouldn’t be seen dead without their lycra. But writers are a different breed. Trackie dacks and slippers receive frequent mentions as the preferred choice of attire for writers, including romance writers. We writers dress for comfort.
An exception is made for special occasions, such as Romance Writing Conventions, when lavish dressing-up is part of the fun. Professional romance writers might adopt a promotional aide for public appearances, such as Anne Gracie with her trademark pink feather boa. The English romance author Barbara Cartland turned every day into a special occasion, but lesser mortals like us don’t have the luxury of indulging in that grand dame’s over-the-top lifestyle.
I’ve often pondered these ideas as I glance around the room at our monthly MRWG meetings. As a group we’re always happy, but there’s little to indicate that we’re focused on romance.
I don’t think I’ve ever looked the part for any role I’ve ever played in life, so my concession to donning the hat of a romance writer is my bag of hearts.
Retained after a purchase from a store, it contains my writing materials and notes from each meeting, and hangs on a doorknob in my study between meetings, exhorting me to turn my thoughts to love.
Aside from what we wear, in other ways our monthly MRWG meetings do joyfully embrace the trappings of romance.
It’s fun, and sometimes these little touches inspire us and motivate us enough to hold to our dreams in the face of opposition and discouragement.
But all of this reminds me of something I learned long ago as a teacher – it’s not the classroom size, facilities or materials which are important to learning, it’s the quality of the teacher.
Likewise, we’ll never get anywhere as romance writers if we focus on image, and not substance. Who cares if we look the part, act the part, or acquire perfect symbolic items? Whether we’re in the mood or not, we just need to knuckle down to the task of writing our romance stories. Does that sound like a good plan for 2015?
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