Note from Elisabeth: Many thanks to J.S. for guest blogging today, and for sharing his experiences as a man who writes erotic romance.
Myths and Legends: The Romantic Writer
First I’d like to thank our gracious and lovely hostess for having me here today! It’s always a privilege to be invited to someone else’s house; I’ll try very hard not to track mud all over your carpets.
The biggest question that people ask upon learning I’m a guy who writes erotic romance is, “Are you gay?” As my wife will attest, the answer is no. This invariably leads to another question: “What the hell possessed you to write romance stories?”
I’m a romantic at heart. Nothing brings me greater joy than watching a new love blossom. Nothing causes me more despair than seeing a once-promising relationship falter, wither, and die.
Throughout most of my life, I’ve pursued romantic love, with mixed results until I finally met my wife. I have been blessed to witness dizzying highs and cursed to weather devastating lows. The sweet thrill of the first time another person looks at you longingly and says “I love you” is a balm for a multitude of hurts. But the destructive potential of a lover looking at you with loathing and saying “I never want to see you again” is a lethally sharp cutting instrument for the soul.
Having seen all of this, it’s not surprising that for a long time, I was very cynical about love. One of my friends, in a rhapsody of romantic bliss, informed me that he was going to get married. As I’d just suffered a very nasty breakup which was an emotional bloodbath on both sides, my advice was for my friend to lock himself in a dark room and lay down until the feeling passed.
Unsurprisingly, I was not invited to be in the wedding party. Shockingly, I was still invited to the wedding. As this was several months after the breakup in question, I arrived with a date on my arm. We were promptly relegated to the farthest corner of the room with all the maiden aunts and other relatives and friends whom it would have been impolitic not to invite but whose presence could have been taken or left.
This could have been disastrous, but I elected to turn it into an opportunity. When my chance to dance with the bride arrived, I took it and, while awkwardly shuffling with her around the floor, apologized fervently for my previous behavior. I explained why I had said what I said and told her that I wished them both all the happiness they could possibly cultivate. Then I took my leave of her and went back to the table, only to be confronted by my friend. When I explained what I’d said, he got a very odd look on his face.
“I almost didn’t invite you,” he informed me. “I knew how you felt about this.”
“That was me looking at it through my own lens, not yours. And it was my mistake,” I explained.
The rift was healed, and I’m pleased to report that the couple now have two children and there’s a chance they might be expecting a third. I couldn’t be happier for them. And the experience renewed my faith and belief in love.
What that has to do with writing romance is this: I love recapturing that feeling of the first kiss. The moment when a person’s heart leaps within their chest and they suddenly dare to contemplate the idea that they might actually be able to consider being with another person. Not just for a night, or to “scratch an itch,” but forever.
I have learned that there are more ways to write erotic romance than there are writers to do it. The commonality is that ultimately, two (or more) people will find love eventually, no matter what hell the writer puts them through for them to get there. If there’s a way to make it hot for the reader, then so much the better. But the erotic element serves the romance, rather than the other way around., That’s why it’s erotic romance and not romantic erotica.
Romance isn’t the only thing I claim on my list. Urban fantasy and supernatural horror are also there right now, and I have no doubt that as time passes, I will branch out even more. For now, though, romance seems like a pretty good place to be.
A guy I work with asked me a few weeks ago, “So, I hear you’ve got a bunch of stories published.”
I confirmed this, more or less, by saying, “I’ve got a few things out there.”
“Yeah? What do you write?”
He looked at me like I’d grown two more heads in five seconds. After a few silent moments in which his mouth worked rather comically, he sputtered, “But you’re married. Don’t you have to be gay to write romance if you’re a guy?”
This particular individual fancies himself as a ladies’ man. He’s not, but it’s not my place to disillusion him. After weighing the relative merits of several responses, I smiled at him and said, “Check out my Facebook. You’ll notice that almost all my friends are women.”
“What’s that got to do with anything?” He muttered, confused.
I laughed. “I’ve never been more popular with women.” This seemed to end the conversation, as he was unable to mount a comeback, and we drifted back to our respective tasks.
So, the biggest myth I want to dispel is that anyone can write erotic romance. If you can write well to begin with, why not? Write what you know. Write what you believe in.
Write what you want for yourself. By writing it, you may actually help create it!
Thank you all for letting me bend your ear, and thank you again, Elisabeth, for having me. It’s been a lot of fun!
Until next time,
J.S. Wayne can be found in a lot of places, but the best and easiest to find him are: