Day 10: Romance in Literary Fiction?

How is it Day 10 of my book tour already?! Please take a look at the post on More.Books.Yes.Please’s Instagram. I’m grateful for the share! As ever, sign up for the giveaways over there, too.

I will have more to say about Maggie Humm’s excellent Radical Woman featuring the artist Gwen John and her relationship with Rodin later, but let me say for now that it’s bringing up unexpected emotions. I put her book down and just stared at the wall last night after reading a passage full of desire and love. It wasn’t explicit; that’s not my bag, and not hers either, I’d guess. (I told you, I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’m kind of a prude. The only reason my characters aren’t is because I give them full permission to be themselves. I’m just the scribe. I don’t mean that I am prudish about what I read so much as I’m shy to write anything too graphic. It’s hard to imagine that your Sunday school teacher from childhood might read the R-rated and above stuff!)

Humm does such a nice job of capturing the romantic despair of waiting hopelessly for a visit, a glimpse of the beloved even in a park, as John sees Rodin, a letter from a distant lover. It’s very well done.

Living with two such “dukes up” main characters in both of my books for so long has left me feeling tired and having to remind myself that I am not the one who is jaded. When you write a character, you allow them to rule you, up to a point. I’m just now beginning to realize that I am free to be myself again. I’m softening up. I’m opening to sweet feelings in literature again.

Remember how I said a few days ago that I’ve been wrestling with writing a certain relationship in my third novel? Well, Humm’s novel is making me see how much I miss reading books with romance in them. I don’t mean romance novels per se, but the tenderness and longing, the anticipation of a glance in them, both the waiting for and the fear of the touch of a hand on your own in new love. Wishing you had the nerve to reach out yourself, knowing you never will.

What if I allow Rebecca, my main character, to experience someone who leaves her unable to speak around them, someone she can’t be in the same room with without shaking, and yet as difficult as it is, she’d give anything to be in that room? There’s nothing wrong with creating a tender character capable of feeling deeply, is there?

Sure, you need the will-they-or-won’t-they, but even literary fiction can have a happy ending, can’t it? (I am open to a wide interpretation of just what a happy ending looks like; ask Briscoe about that.)

Anyway, these are my musings at the moment. As always, thank you for stopping by!

Now, back to Humm’s excellent book.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.