I salute you as you stand and battle cat hair, dog vomit, and burned tomato sauce on your ceramic stove top.
Last November I joined a writing group in my area and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. First of all, some of these folks are wicked talented. Out of the regulars that attend the meeting, I’m the only romance writer, and I have my own feelings of insecurity about that. None of the writers make me feel less substantial because my writing is “fluffy” (my word, not theirs.)
A comment was made last night regarding their observation of a library patron. The middle-aged woman carried eight romances up to the library to check out. There was some eye-rolling and I, in my weirdly detached, multi-personality self, managed to not feel upset or even insulted by the comment. Being the only “romance writer” in the group, I’m also the only admitted voracious romance reader too. You know why romance eBooks sell so well? ‘Cuz we’re embarrassed by the pictures on the covers. Sheesh. Cover art – that’s a whole other rant for another day.
The person who made the comment is an incredibly sweet, beautiful, young woman, and a damn fine writer. I’ve probably got two decades on her, and three grown children. She asked the question about why eight books of mommy porn rhetorically, but still, I felt the need to answer.
However, my polite self (this is where the multi-personality thing comes in), remained quiet and gave an amused grin. Why eight? Because some aren’t what you are in the mood for and you toss them out after the first few chapters. In my life, my time is too valuable to waste on characters that I don’t find attractive. And not just physically, either. I don’t give a damn if she’s a Rachel McAdams look-a-like and he’s Channing Tatum. If she’s self-centered, she’s ugly and I don’t want to even give her two hours of my life for her story. Even if it includes hot sex. Although…. I may flip to the pages with the hot sex and give her twenty minutes.
Why Mommy Porn? Well, let’s see. After vacuuming dust bunnies, washing the floor, finding desiccated mouse parts and dog vomit, well, perhaps I want a little vacay from my reality. I love my life, don’t get me wrong. I am happy that I have floors to clean and pets that love me. However, I don’t feel attractive anymore. My youth has been spent, wisely mind you, but it’s gone. There was a time when men approached me, winked suggestively. Yeah, now they do that to my daughters. Ick.
Still, it’s hard to feel sexy when you’re dealing with the realities of life. Like the fact that four people are counting on you to feed them this evening and you forgot to take out the steak and defrost it. Or, there are dried leaves in your bed because the cat drug them in and chose to nap under the covers so now you need to change the sheets before you finally fall into bed. Or, your son was just diagnosed with ADD and adding that to the anxiety medications he is currently taking makes you hope that he’ll remember to take the damn anxiety medications. And you need to make a doctor’s appointment to see if they’ll prescribe the drugs or does he have to go through the child psychiatrist who has a six month, yes, six month, waiting list. While you’re at it call the orthodontist, he lost his retainer. And the weeds are now officially knee high in the front bed that faces the street and the neighbors are starting to glare.
Yeah, so for a few hours a week I like to immerse myself in my twenty-year old self that didn’t have cellulite, or bifocals. I remember my life back then, when it was just my husband and myself and how silly we could be, and carefree. I was never too tired for sex. Ever.
Fortunately, I’ve always been a live-in-the-moment kind of gal, so I appreciated my life then. I appreciate my life now. Back then, I hoped that we would have a home, children, and pets. I just assumed it would eventually be there. I was a practical sort, and understood that responsibilities come with all those things, so I enjoyed my pre-child, pre-pet life.
Books give me a moment to relax. To consider other possible life outcomes, although I’d never switch places with any of my heroines. I am deeply in love with my husband and I’d kill anyone if they threatened with my kids. My husband, my partner, in every sense of the word is the only one who finds me sexy. There’s still passion, decades later, but sometimes it takes a backseat to the duties of life. We were giggling the other night about what we thought when we were younger. He’s older than me by eight years and before he proposed he asked me what I would do if he died before me. My naïve twenty-year-old self shrugged and said “I’ll probably get a cat.” Remember, we were pre-pets then. Truthfully, now I realize there is no one in the world that I would be able to handle seeing me naked. Not just physically, either. The man knows me. All of my ugly secrets, my numerous idiosyncrasies, favorite foods, and what makes me laugh. Every scar on my body or my psyche is known to him. Understood by him. No other human being will ever know me or love me as well as he does.
So, yeah, I read romance. It makes me happy. I write romance because I have these stories in my head of where I would want a relationship to go, how it should grow, and sometimes because thinking about sex is just plain fun.
To my writing companion, enjoy your life in the moment. Sometimes, however, the moment isn’t as fun as reading a beach scene with Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams look-a-likes. At their beach the sand won’t stick to your skin; and wind won’t make your hair whip in your face and get stuck in your eyes so you are doing this weird grimace thing with your face; and the beach is free of seaweed with sandflies and a rotting carcass of a seal. Never mind that you missed a section of your thigh with the sunscreen and tomorrow you’re going to have a blistered smile under the right butt cheek. Nah, in the story we say “I love you” for the first time and hold hands as we walk down the perfectly clean and calm beach. At least, that’s how I remember it…
It does give me an idea, though. Instead of LARPing a videogame, we should totally LARP our favorite romance book… who’s up for it?