Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What Is Romantic, Anyway?

Maven Jacqueline BarbourI have a confession to make: I'm a terribly unromantic person. I do not melt over the gestures that I'm given to understand "normal" women (whatever normal is, LOL) swoon over or consider de rigeur from their beaux. Flowers, jewelry, even chocolate fail to touch my hardened heart. I don't crave long walks on the beach (too much sand!), or regular candlelit dinners at fancy restaurants (too expensive!), or pina coladas (too sweet!) and getting caught in the rain (too cold!).

Just to provide additional, amusing anecdotal evidence of my lack of a romantic gene on my X chromosomes, when I discovered about a week ago that two small diamonds had fallen out of my engagement ring, my first thought was not to feel sad that the symbol of my husband's promise to me had been damaged, but, "Damn, the empty settings are going to catch on everything and it's going to cost hundreds of dollars to fix it!" (I've still not had it into the jewelers, though, as I expected, the empty setting slots are a pain the butt.)

So, what's a romantically-challenged person like me doing writing romance novels?

Well, here's the thing: I actually don't think I'm romantically-challenged. I think the rest of the world is brainwashed :)! The things I find romantic are a lot more practical than flowers and expensive dinners and jewelry. A man who puts the kids to bed or washes and vacuums your kidmobile without being asked (and without complaining about it later!)--now there's romantic! A man who, after almost 18 years of marriage, comes up behind you when you haven't even had a chance to shower, puts his arms around your waist, and kisses your neck while whispering, "Just wait until I have you alone"--now there's romantic!

I love the ways I can show in a story that the hero loves the heroine--maybe even before he knows it himself. The seemingly simple gestures and selfless actions that speak of love more clearly than any token that can be bought or sold. True love isn't about the things we can give one another, but the ways we support and help each other through life. And I believe, in romance novels, writers can explore this in a way popular culture is, in its wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am way, incapable of doing. Maybe we're all just a little too eager for the quick fix--the roses or the diamonds--and a little too quick to dismiss the smaller, but more meaningful actions that tells us we are loved.

YOUR TURN: What's romantic to you?

11 comments:

Darcy Burke said...

Now see, your husband kissing your neck and whispering sweet somethings IS terribly romantic! I'm not sure romance is flowers or jewelry. It's whatever you want it to be. And if you're lucky (which you ARE), your partner shares the same view of romance.

And you might be surprised how many people find romance in little things that have nothing to do with Hallmark. ;-)

Where's your contest squee, dammit?!

B.E. Sanderson said...

Oh yeah! You're so right. Love is shown in a million different little ways, and that's what makes romance special. When he reaches out to touch me as he walks by my desk, when I'm reading and I catch him watching me with a little smile on his face, when I whack my shin on the table and I can see the concern in his eyes. It's feeling cherished, and cherishing him, too. *happy sigh* Who needs flowers when you've got that?

Chocolate, however, is always welcome. ;o)

Bill Clark said...

the empty setting slots are a pain in the butt

Try not sitting on your hands so much, Jacq! ;-)

Bill Clark said...

Maybe we're all just a little too eager for the quick fix--the roses or the diamonds--and a little too quick to dismiss the smaller, but more meaningful actions that tell us we are loved.

On a more serious note, as a man I wish more women were like you! Too often they seem to go for the surface stuff, not the deep-down-under stuff. It's almost as though they've been conditioned by society to go for the bling rather than the bliss.

Great post!

Jacqueline Barbour said...

And you might be surprised how many people find romance in little things that have nothing to do with Hallmark. ;-)

Oh, I know it! That said, my husband's friends regularly express their astonishment that he is not required to bring me offerings on "romantic" occasions. I think their wives are all brainwashed, LOL!

Chocolate, however, is always welcome. ;o)

Absolutely agree, B.E. Which is why we always have chocolate in the house already :)!

Try not sitting on your hands so much, Jacq! ;-)

Ah, Bill! That's why I've been finding it hard to write lately ;P!

Vicki said...

I have to agree with you on the little things being romantic. Science Guy does things like running a bubble bath, lighting candles, and pouring a glass of wine just for me to relax. Of course there's a book for me to read. :)

A call during the day when I'm not expecting it, when he says I was thinking about you and wanted to know how's your day going.

Now, don't get me wrong the whole romantic dinner, flowers, surprises and the likes of such are great too. I just know the small things show much more love. Too me, anyway.

ERiCA said...

Show in a story that the hero loves the heroine--maybe even before he knows it himself

Yep, that's the stuff I like to read about, too! If I was reading a book and the hero just kept showing up with chocolate and flowers, I'd be like, who cares? He's probably rich. (Especially if it was a Regency, where it sometimes seems filling a drawing room with flowers was practically *expected* of potential beaux-to-be. *g)

I vastly prefer a man with the personal touch.

Er... I mean... =)

B.E. Sanderson said...

A call during the day when I'm not expecting it, when he says I was thinking about you and wanted to know how's your day going.

Oh, Vicki! I love those. Even better when I know he's up to his arse in alligators, and he still took the time to think about me. =oD

Mary said...

Ah, but some do need the gifts to feel loved (http://www.fivelovelanguages.com/). I, for one, need the cuddling, caresses, and simply spending time together in an activity we both enjoy.

Bill Clark said...

Erica said:

I vastly prefer a man with the personal touch

LOL!! Yes, Erica, we all know what you mean...except those of us who prefer a woman's touch. ;-)

On a related topic: I have just started "Dangerous Admissions" by Jane O'Connor, which got a nice write-up in Sunday's NYT Book Review. It is *ueber-fabulous*!!! I'm only a few chapters into it, but am already head-over-heels in love, to pick up on Erica's post of yesterday. I'm such a story slut! (Men can be sluts, too, right, Erica?)

Seriously, check out the NYT review and then rush down to your local library/bookstore and grab it. You can thank me later. ;-)

lacey kaye said...

Yes, Erica, we all know what you mean...except those of us who prefer a woman's touch. ;-)

Bill, I like you more and more every day!

To catch up with the conversation, though, I'm not really a romantical person myself. BUT I like sappy movies, sappy novels, and hearing other people's romantic stories. So keep 'em coming!

Manuscript Mavens










Manuscript Mavens