Friday, August 31, 2012

From Where I'm Sitting

I haven't blogged here in months. Shame, really. I like this blog. I like writing about romance.

But from where I'm sitting, there are so many topics I can't write about safely. Here's a partial list:
  1. Other authors' books. I have discussed books in the past, but I don't review them. There's a very narrow range of topics in which I talk about a book because something about the book is interesting. Alternatively, I can praise a book to the rafters--no one objects to that--but this leads to a different problem:
  2. Writing. My writing, another author's writing, writing in general. Promantica was never intended as a "writer's" blog, and truly I would post even less frequently than I do now if I limited myself to sparkling observations about the business of writing/revising/publishing. The problem is that I mostly read books as a writer would: I enjoy them but I'm also looking underneath the hood to see how the book runs. I used to be a cranky reader, now I'm a cranky, stuffy reader. Deadly. Even when I like a book, I often like it because of technical matters that most reader can't care less about.
  3. Social media and the kerfuffles therein. Used to write about that, but those halcyon days are past. I don't think I even want to say why. ;-)
  4. Traditional vs. independent publishing. Apart from the fact that much smarter people are writing about this on a regular basis, I myself don't have much to say on this topic. And what I do have can be summarized thusly: I don't believe there's a gatekeeper any more; I see as many typos in trad-published books as in indie books but that's anecdotal evidence at best so who cares; and I just want to read good books regardless of how they get into the marketplace.
  5. My own books. And the pimping thereof. I'll say something on my website about them as they come out, but not here.
  6. My life. Because it's boring. And the few bits that aren't boring are sad, or would constitute self-promotion, or something. I don't have cute kids, my pets sleep most of the time, and my husband is delightful but shy.
There you have it.  That leaves me one topic at the moment: romance. And I haven't had much to say about romance recently until this article popped up: Are Romances as Bad for Relationships as Porn?

Katherine Feeney is just wrong.

Here's why: Porn shuts people out. It's usually a solitary experience, and most people are disinclined to talk about it. Romances can be--and are--shared. So in a relationship where the guy is accessing porn and the woman is reading romances, he's more likely to deny his activity than she is.

Yes, both porn and romance include fantastical images/portrayals of the opposite sex--I'm just talking about a heterosexual couple--that presumably real people can't compete with. I think the instinct to compare and judge is rather more a guy's trait than a woman's. If the guy is looking at a lot of porno women, he may look at his wife and think, "She should exercise more." A woman reading about six-pack abs and bulging manhoods is less likely to view her husband as inadequate and inferior just because there's a super-sexy guy on the cover of a book.

That would be the "real-world" view of these media. How about their inherent qualities and shortcomings? Well, I don't have an absolute view on that. Some romances are poorly written and convey heroines who are TSTL and heroes who should be arrested rather than revered. Some porn, presumably, is better done with less demeaning portrayals of ... oh, who the hell knows. I don't watch any.

More importantly, the original article was trying to tie porn and romances to relationships, which, frankly, gets us to a guns-and-butter point in the argument. Butter can help clog your arteries or it can augment a dish so that it tastes fantastic. Guns can win wars, allow crazy extremists to kill innocent people, or help defend loved ones at home. So what? If I had a stupid statistic about how butter kills more people than guns do, would that even matter?

People matter. The ways in which people read romances, watch porn, consume butter, and use guns -- that's what matters.

And, at the end of the day, it makes about as much sense to blame the romance novel, the porn site, the gun industry, and cows for the stupid things humans do. Whatever else I believe, I wish people would make smarter choices.


  1. Hey Magdalen
    Please don't give up on this blog. For those of us who don't twitter or Facebook it is one of the few ways to keep up with you. And I always enjoy what you have to say, even if I don't always comment.
    I was hoping to read of your time at the RWA convention. I was sorry to read that you didn't win the Golden Heart, but not surprised, as you had prepped us for what you thought your chances were.

  2. Hear, hear, Betty Barbara--I checked in ('cause I don't twitter for Facebook either) to find out about the RWA convention as well. I, too, almost never comment--don't really follow general romance much, but it's fun to read what you have to say about it.


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