Writing Romance While the World Burns Down Around Us
How have I kept writing romance novels these past few years? I’ve wondered the same thing.
It’s a weird time for everyone, I think. Regardless of your politics or economic status, or where you live, so many things have changed in the past six years (most for the worse) it’s hard to keep up. Articles abound on how the continued stress of, well, EVERYTHING, is making it hard for people to think or function effectively.
We’re depressed. Or forgetful. Or constantly drained and exhausted. It’s hard to focus because our brains are overloaded with news and information, much of it negative at best, horrifying at worst.
Even though my day-to-day life is pretty damn good, I have to regularly stop myself from doomscrolling or I sink in to a mild depression. Between, gun violence, the state of politics and democracy in America, climate change and the attendant deadly fires that keep happening everywhere (including where I live in Colorado), it’s hard to stay positive.
It’s also become almost impossible for me to get sucked into a book unless it is stellar. The past few I’ve tried to read, I get a three to five chapters in and set the books down. A week later I realize I haven’t touched the book and can’t even really remember the plot or characters.
Yet, somehow, I’m able to keep writing and editing my own romances, packed with love and adventure in wild places.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how and why that is possible, and I have a few theories…
- The outdoors is my happy place and I’m an ardent lifelong environmentalist (I got my degree in Resource Management and Environmental Education). If I can’t be out there, then the next best thing is writing about it. Because when I do, I close my eyes and transport myself back to those very places and spaces. I smell the flat bite of petrichor in the air before it rains. I hear the leaves rustling in a gentle breeze or savor the silence of a snow-covered landscape.
- After college, I spent six season working with the Forest Service as a Ranger and Naturalist. I learned people only value what they know. This is a way I can help people see the power and beauty and value of wild places. Since my books are always set in the outdoors, I get to take people into the wilderness and let them experience it in their own minds.
- So many of our problems are huge. Gigantic. Far too large to wrap our heads around. Writing these stories lets me shrink my world down to what’s on the page. While it’s still a lot, it’s finite and I control it. It’s easier for me to get lost in worlds of my own making, where I already know the rules and characters, and I’m confident in that happy ending.
- Writing about two people growing and changing and learning how to love and be loved is always uplifting. I came from a very dysfunctional family. With a lot of work, I’ve had a very happy marriage for almost 22 years. I’m tired of so many books, movies, and TV shows showing examples of dysfunctional relationships as though it should be the accepted norm. Instead, I’m showing people in healthy relationships who adore and support each other. I’m also showing the power of choosing what makes you happiest in life–even if it isn’t what you “should” do. That makes me happy.
- I want to help create change—in the world and in the romance industry. The pen is mightier than the sword, right? So I’m using it to bring attention to the wonders of nature. And to the strength and sexiness of badass women and the beta male, cinnamon roll guys who love, appreciate, and support them.
- Romance novels are regularly derided as drivel or smut or silly women’s books—which is bullshit. Especially given the state of the world, if I can help other people escape the sad and crazy by providing an escape and a guaranteed happy ending, I’m doing something worthwhile. It’s what I can offer. I hope it’s something, even if it can never be enough.
If you’d like to take a trip along the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington and watch two people fall in love, check out my latest, steamy backpacking romance Wild at Heart