This fall, a life-long dream of mine will come true: my first book Faker will be published. It’s a multicultural romcom about a twenty-something woman fighting to make her way in the power tool industry while resisting her attraction to an office rival. Sounds like a run-of-the-mill romance, right? It is — sort of.
I like to say that my debut novel is a hybrid of romance and romantic comedy because it has elements of both. There’s humor, a slow-burn romance arc between the relatable female main character and the broody hero, and a killer black moment. Oh, and lots and lots of steam — and that’s the issue.
See, before I became an author, I was a copywriter. I wrote product descriptions, blog articles, shopping guides, that sort of thing. A completely boring and inoffensive line of work by all accounts. But my hobby was reading and writing romance, which is a tad bit more exciting and racy than copywriting. Last year, after working tirelessly on a manuscript, I finally nabbed an agent and a book deal. It was one of the highlights of my life. It meant that people other than my beloved beta readers and author pals would have the chance to read my words. I was through-the-roof excited.
But after the excitement died down, I got very, very nervous. Because I’m harboring a bit of secret: most of my family doesn’t know I write romance.
Currently only my husband, mom, siblings, and close friends know about my book. As a life-long romance fan, I’m well aware of outsiders’ opinions of the genre and its fans. A lot of people (including some of my family) think romance is a trash genre with little substance and a deviant fan base. I have pointed out how that’s all nonsense of course, but some people’s minds are impossible to change.
In the past, I’ve tried explaining to naysayers that romance is in fact one of the most empowering genres in literature. Most of the authors are female, as are most of the readers. In a quality romance, women’s pleasure is prioritized. Her needs and her journey are the focus of the of the story. All of those are positives in my opinion. And I think it speaks pretty damn highly of the genre that it’s the most profitable one in publishing, by a long shot. (FYI, the next most profitable genre earns about half of what romance earns. Feel free to whip out that fun fact the next time someone wants to hate on romance).
But for some reason, all of this isn’t enough to change everyone’s minds. Some people I talk to are hell-bent on holding onto their misguided opinions. And for that reason, I kept my romance writing a secret for a long time. I didn’t want to feel like I had to justify or defend myself whenever I talked about the kind of writing and reading I was passionate about.
But then publishing my first book happened — and it changed my entire mindset.
During the entire time that I wrote my book and queried it, I was lucky enough to connect with a small circle of fellow writers and beta readers. They helped me realize I should be proud of the book I wrote and all the work I put into it. And because of their support and encouragement, I suddenly didn’t care what other people — judgmental people — thought of me. If someone wants to make unfair assumptions about me or my writing, I can’t do anything about that. And that’s okay. Because I’m not trying to impress them. I’m simply doing what I love, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Now, I’m not shouting from the rooftops that I’m a romance writer. That’s not really my style as a card-carrying introvert. But now when people ask what I do for a living, I say I’m a writer and that my first book — a romance — is due out this fall. And every single person so far has responded with happiness and support. Because it’s an accomplishment and I should be proud of it.
And this newfound feeling of comfort I have when it comes to my writing, I owe to all the wonderfully supportive people in my life. The moment I told my close family and friends about my book, every one of them were over-the-moon excited for me. Some of them even pre-ordered my book already, which nearly brought me to tears. And I’m also so lucky to have the support of my author and beta reader friends, who have been cheering me on since day one.
I’ve still got a bevy of people to “come clean” to in the coming months, mostly conservative-minded relatives who are the type to blush at a racy Britney or Rihanna song. I don’t know what they will say about the multiple chapters of sexy times I’ve written in my book, if they choose to even read it. But when they do find out about my new line of work and ask me about it, I’ll smile and say that writing Faker was the most fun I’ve ever had in any job. And then I’ll happily tell them that I get to do it all over again when I write my second book — another romance.
And when I do, I won’t hide, I won’t apologize, I won’t feel embarrassed.
Because I’m a romance writer and damn proud.