Saturday, August 1, 2009

August Column

From the July issue of the San Francisco Romance Writers of America chapter newsletter, Heart of the Bay.
From The President


The national conference is good for lots of things, but one of the best is a reminder that what we do is of value. Gathering with our colleagues who share in this endeavor, we celebrate, strategize, appreciate and honor the genre – a worthy exercise in a world that’s a little slow to come around, as evidenced yet again in the press commentary on the conference itself.
Chapter member Rachael Herron popped a quote on her blog that is so apt I’m going to shamelessly steal it. It’s from Sarah Wendell of the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog, a response to the question of why feminists should read romance: 
“It’s a 50-plus-year-old industry comprised mostly of women writers operating their own businesses and producing a genre about women’s self-actualization, pursuit of autonomy, and acquisition of sexual agency for an audience made mostly of women, who buy over $1.4 billion dollars worth of books a year. No, no, nothing feminist or even subversive about that."
I was recently invited to be part of a panel discussion on feminism – specifically “feminism and powerful women in fiction.” I’m very much looking forward to having the chance to make the point we all understand instinctively – that powerful women characters not only are not exempt from our genre, they are part of every genre’s best examples.
I still read to my teenage daughter before bed (hush, don’t tell anyone). We read YA, mystery, and romance, and it delights me to observe that she does not have a tiered view of different genres. Books are all either interesting or boring, and she doesn’t feel compelled to apologize for her choices.
Is it possible that our kids’ generation is, in this arena as in so many others, refusing to discriminate where prior generations have done so with impunity? We already know that our children won’t play when it comes to old racial and gender and sexual-orientation stereotypes – it’s an invigorating notion to think that they might insist on the right to read what they like, without judgment, the canon be damned.
If you’re like me, you came back from National with a suitcase full of books. Why not consider passing along the best of them, the ones that make you love to read romance, to someone who might not have encountered romance in the past? Let them speak for themselves; a lecture isn’t necessary when the story does the talking.
Give a YA romance title to a young reader, and it’s true that you’ll be helping to build a future audience. But you’ll also be reinforcing a notion whose time is long overdue: that all genres are worthy, and that the enjoyment of books reflects well on their readers as well as their authors.

1 comment:

Kieran Shea said...

so i'm lookin' at my watch and i'm lookin' at the post and...d'f**k? august 1st? it's the 23rd of july? you are now so awesome you do time travel?