Romance writers truly don't get any respect. I can't tell you how many times I've told an acquaintance what I write, and they turn up their nose in disdain. "Oh, I don't read that stuff." Sometimes, they have no clue how insulting their statements are.
Even worse, they automatically assume that as an erotic romance author, I must experience everything I write about. Does a suspense author have to become a serial killer in order to write about a serial killer? Do any of their readers or critics ever make such assumptions? I doubt it. Yet, I've been asked how I can write about "that stuff?" Do I have to practice? If my husband is in the area, he insists that we practice everything in the books. He's become the envy of all of his friends. The reality of it is much less exciting.
Most writers are imaginative people who create their own worlds in their minds. Their characters get to do things they'd never even consider in their day-to-day lives. We love to be people we'd never dream of being, even though each character contains a little of ourselves. In the majority of cases, we aren't wild women (or men), and our lives aren't nearly as exciting as others believe.
Then there's the stigma attached to reading romance, the ol' bodice ripper mentality. What's so bad about a book that leaves the reader feeling good about themselves and full of hope in a world that offers little of that? Isn't that a good thing? A lot of readers must agree with me, as romance novels appear to be the only book genre that is holding its own in this economy. In fact, I believe sales are increasing.
So what is the deal? Why is romance treated with such disrespect by those that don't read it? I've read tons of theories. The most popular one has to do with it being primarily women's fiction. If men read it, it wouldn't have the stigma. There's some validity to this. I also think that people still don't want to admit that they enjoy the sex scenes. They feel that it's like admitting you read porn. True romance is not porn. In fact, if the sex scenes were removed, you should still have an engaging story that can stand alone on its own merits.
So the next time someone belittles you for reading or writing romance, have a quick comeback ready. I'd love to hear your ideas for a great comeback.