Monday, August 8, 2016

Can Romance Save The World? (#nationalreadaromancemonth #community #relationships)

In case you haven’t heard, August is National Read a Romance Month. Now I know most of you don’t have to be encouraged to read romancein fact, nothing’s going to stop you! But today I’d like to talk about why romance deserves to be celebrated for an entire month.

Romance gets a bad rap. Some people deride it as "not serious", "trivial" or "clichéd". What they don't realize is that romance does a huge amount of good. In fact, it just might save the world.

Why do I make such a seemingly ridiculous statement? First of all, romance encourages optimism and hope. Our world could use a bigger supply of these qualities, don't you think? Maybe "happily ever after" isn't completely realistic, but you know, there are a lot more happy people that the news reports would have you believe. A recent survey found that a majority of romance readers are in fact in long-term, satisfying relationships. This refutes the notion that readers are looking for solace, trying to get away from their horrible, lonely lives. Meanwhile, when you read about a couple (or a trio or quartet...) who manage to overcome the obstacles facing them in order to be together and love each other, it can't help but put you in a good mood. And when you're feeling good, you're going to spread that positive vibe around. You can't help it.

Second, erotic romance (the genre I write) encourages readers to be more open about and accepting of sexuality - their own and others. I don't write to educate, but I've had a number of people tell me after reading one of my BDSM tales that they finally understood the attraction of dominance and submission. My stories helped them realize that a D/s relationship could be as loving, nurturing and conducive to personal growth as any vanilla one. M/M and F/F erotic romance (which I sometimes write) has made many readers more sensitive to the issues faced by GLBT individuals as well as more supportive of causes like same-sex marriage. (Of course, there are some people who think this is a bad thing. Hopefully none of them are reading this blog!)

Finally, romance builds community. I started publishing romance in 2007. I'm amazed by the close relationships I've developed with readers and other authors over the past four years - and I don't spend nearly as much time on loops and in chats as many people in the romance world. Romance readers and writers (there's a considerable overlap in those two sets of individuals) share their joys and their sorrows, their successes and their disappointments. They laugh together and pray together. They offer each other moral support, practical advice and concrete assistance. It's truly incredible.

Of all the ways in which romance is a force for good, I believe that this community spirit is the most important. No matter how optimistic you are, you can't deny that our world faces many serious problems. These problems are not going to be solved by one or two people. Only by working together are we going to make any progress. I suspect that romance readers are better equipped for this sort of cooperation than the average individual. 

So let's celebrate romance this month! Lose yourself in a great romance today. Then go out share the love. 


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