I’ve heard it my entire writing career.
As a man who has always wanted to write inspirational romance of the more gentle variety (where romance isn’t necessarily the focus, but it’s ever-present), traditional publishing house editors have told me it won’t fly. Women won’t go for it, they said. Besides, as a single man, what do you know about romance?
I listened, pursuing other writing avenues, while Nicholas Sparks, Travis Thrasher, James Patterson, Brian Morton, Murray Pura, Dan Walsh and host of others did it anyway. Maybe they didn’t encounter the naysayers in the industry the way I did. Or maybe they did and they had more courage.
A couple of years ago, Serena Chase, who blogs at www.EdgyInspirationalRomance.com, wrote a blog post for “USA Today” in which she interviewed four male inspirational romance writers (some of whom are mentioned in the list above), partially about the pushback they get for writing such material, and she echoed what I’ve heard for years during her line of questioning:
“I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but in the past I was sometimes a bit skeptical of reading romantic fiction with a guy’s name on the cover,” she says. “The more I read novels by authors like y'all, though, the more those biases fall away. Like me, most of your readers are women.”
I’m thankful for authors like Sparks, Thrasher, Patterson, Walsh and the others who wrote what they wanted to write and found an audience, in spite of what anybody else may have said to them, or the teasing they may have been subject to. I wasn’t that brave early in my writing career. But that is changing.
Last fall I wrote an inspirational Christmas novella that contains a love story. No apologies. No regrets. And there will be more of these types of books to follow.
I’m sentimental by nature and growing more so as the years roll by. In my view, romance and sentimentalism are cousins and I enjoy spending time with both of them. I look for and draw meaning from music, quotes, birthday cards, anniversaries, carved initials, golf clubs – you name it.
I have a birthday card from my dad pinned to a file cabinet by my workspace at home. It says, “Separately, we are as fragile as reeds and as easily broken. But together we are as strong as reeds tied in a bundle.”
Those words were certainly true of our relationship while Dad was still alive. They may be even more true now.
Many of our conversations were about things that matter. The topics progressed as I got older from grades, to girls, to dreams, to family history and finally to mistakes. Dad made many mistakes, and while he didn’t always own them openly right way, he owned them in his soul. I know, because we often spoke about them later in his life.
While he was alive, he, like all of us, was free to alter his advice, thoughts, beliefs and confessions. Now that he is gone, everything he passed on to me is frozen. And while it’s never good to give too much credence to such things, because the living need room to make their own mistakes, it’s daresome to give too little.
Together, we are as strong as reeds tied in a bundle.
In my inspirational giftbook, Inspiring Thoughts for Golfers: A Celebration of Life on the Links, published by Barbour in 2010, I was unashamedly sentimental in the following story I shared about my dad’s golf clubs:
I’m learning to quiet the naysayers’ voices in my head by writing what comes natural to me. I don’t want to prove them wrong. I just want to feel that stirring in my soul that only comes from viewing life this way, and then writing about it.
Lee Warren is a freelance writer and editor who has written twelve non-fiction books, one novella and hundreds of articles for various newspapers and magazines as well as edited more than 50 books that currently appear in print. He's a fan of NASCAR, baseball, tennis, books, movies and coffee shops.