When I think "romance writer," I think glamour. I think of Mary Fisher from the movie, She-Devil (played to perfection by Meryl Streep), living in her pink mansion by the sea, wearing her flowing chiffon scarves and being served cocktails on her private patio by a buff young man-servant who wears nothing but black shorts and a bow-tie.
And of course, there is the romantic icon of my youth, Dame Barbara Cartland, who graced the back cover of more than 500 romance novels, dripping with diamonds and surrounded by gold gilt and velvet, cuddling her little pooch. Of course, the reality is probably more like Joan Wilder in the classic romantic comedy, Romancing the Stone, who finishes her manuscript with a combination of joy and sorrow, and then sits down to celebrate with a solitary microwavable meal and her cat.
I've completed three romance novels and am working on my fourth, and yet my family remains singularly unimpressed. Don't they understand that I'm a romance writer? That I shouldn't have to do dishes or laundry, or spend my time on anything as mundane as food shopping and cooking? I am a romance novelist! My life should be spent sitting on my patio being served dainty pastry puffs and cosmopolitans (or whatever it is that glamorous romance writers eat). As wonderful as that sounds, the reality is that romance writers are just regular people. We still have bills to pay, bathrooms to clean, and (for some of us) day jobs to go to.
But then there is this wonderful thing called the RWA National Conference, where for four glorious days we get to bask in the warmth and attention we so rightly deserve, where every minute is devoted to being a romance writer, where there are catered lunches and dinners, booksignings, and opportunities to schmooze with editors and agents.
Even before I was published, this annual conference was a much anticipated event, and only reinforced my passion for the romance genre. I remember watching, in complete awe, as all the glamorous romance novelists, sparkling in thier finery, climbed into taxis and limos that would whisk them away to a publisher's private party. Oh, to live that kind of life! And for the first time, I've also received an invitation to a publisher's party. But I've also realized that I am neither glamorous nor awe-inspiring, and that being a romance writer is just one part of who I am. It's a wonderful part, but one that needs as much work and dedication as the other parts; the day-job worker part and the wife part and the mom part. So thank you, Harlequin, for making me feel--even for just one night--like a glamorous romance author!