Some things I learned from…
There were so many things I learned from this amazing, inspiring, super-smart woman (whom I hope doesn’t remember me from a bar of soap because I know I made a complete dick of myself while talking to her) that it’s truly difficult to pick and choose from them! But for me, Courtney’s key-note talk on the hot-button topic of Romance and the Unrealistic, Predictable Happy Ending was the talk that had the most profound impact.
Why is this such a hot-button topic? I hear you ask.
Hands up if you’ve ever — as a writer or reader of romance — heard people disparage the romance genre? *raises hand*
Hands up if you’ve ever — as a writer or reader of romance — had people diss the genre because of its love of happy endings? *raises hand*
And hands up if you’ve ever — as a writer or reader of romance — seen articles claiming that romance novels give women unrealistic expectations? *raises hand*
Well, this talk was for all of us who’ve ever been made to feel embarrassed or stupid or less (for want of a better word) because of our love of romance and its predictable happy ever after. And man, was it powerful, emotional, heart-breaking stuff. (And yes, as I tweeted at the time, many tears were shed because it was impossible to remain unmoved.)
So here’s a summary of what I learned from Courtney during her talk at our RWNZ Conference on Sunday, 16th August 2014.
Romance and the Unrealistic, Predictable Happy Ending
by Courtney Milan
- Disparaging comments and looking down on those who read or write the romance genre stems in a large part from the idea that happiness takes no work. It’s the romance writer’s job to show that happiness does take work.
- Love isn’t easy. Happiness isn’t merely the absence of sadness.
- Happy Ever Afters are the result of conflict, tension, sadness, and clashes between the two main characters. It’s showing that these two people are better together than apart. It’s writing a story where the reader can trust that the hero and heroine are going to make it in the end.
- Happiness isn’t what people think won’t happen.
- Anyone, no matter what their circumstances, no matter who they are, can find love. And this is not unrealistic. This is why we have romance novels!
- Romance novels have always depicted the lives women lead.
- We write romance as an act of creation, believing that we can be happy, and that we deserve happiness.
- Romance novels help us face reality, not escape it.
- Romance novels are not giving us unrealistic expectations; they are giving us hope.