Did that catch your attention?
My then-editor for Nothing Done in Love had a cow when he read this scene:
Katie felt the scalding hot tears flowing like rivers down her cheeks, “So am I, Chase, so am I. She’s not just my mother, she’s my best friend. My only real one besides you and Chance. What am I going to do without her? How can I go on?”
Her body shook with the power of emotions she had been bottling for days, weeks, months, the past year since her mother’s diagnosis. “It isn’t supposed to be this way. There are weddings and grandbabies. All the things that mothers and daughters are supposed to share together. And she won’t be there. She won’t be there.”
The final words were nothing more than a great gulping sob as not only tears, but snot dribbled down her face.
Those arms tightened about her and he drew her head back to his shoulder. “I know, baby girl. I know. It isn’t fair. Life isn’t fair. But sometimes, it just is what it is. Let it out. Let it all out, Katie,” he coaxed as the tears fell and the snot ran. She was not sure how long, minutes or hours had no meaning in pain that visceral.
When her tears slowed to a trickle and she began to hiccup gently, Chase loosened his hold on her. His fingers brushed the tears from her eyes. He chuckled as he pulled his t-shirt from the waist of his jogging pants to wipe her face.
She shook her head embarrassed as she raised her hand to swipe at her nose, but he pushed it away and insisted on using the soft material anyway. “Don’t worry, princess, yours ain’t the only bodily fluids staining my shirt, remember?”
Yes, I wrote the word SNOT, not once but twice. In an erotic romance. One of my racier ones too.
I would hate to think what he would say about today’s efforts. My hero and heroine are forced to pee. In a porta-potty. In the back of a van. In front of one another. The title of that one is One Night Stand.
What a helluva a jump from a uber hot one night stand to delivering the baby you did not know you had to peeing in front of one another in the back of a van.
Not the stuff of your Mama’s Harlequin. I don’t remember those kinds of things happening in those Fabio covered historicals.
But the thing is…
We all pee.
We all cry sometimes so hard that our noses run snotty. (Or the good ones among us anyway.)
And we all fart.
Hell, we even shit.
Except in one of my favorite sci-fi romance series. In that one, they give the human brides nano implants that remove all waste products through the air. That’s right as long as you are on their space ships, you never have to pee or pooh again. How romantic?
A year or so ago, I ran across this article on Medium:
Now, I have pretty strong feelings on this subject. Alan farted on our first date. Now, granted his farts aren’t super stinky like mine. In fact, they rarely smell at all (maybe one, and not very bad, in almost four years).
But I like it. Not farts. But the fact that it said…I’m real. I’m not pretending to be something I’m not just to impress you.
I’ve been in relationships on both ends of this spectrum. My first ex, the preacher, would come into the bathroom while I bathed and pooh, do a number two for those delicate flowers among you. But PanKwake’s dad was the opposite. The doors were locked.
Alan and I are somewhere between there. No number twos and the worst part of getting down with his back for him is if it gets so bad that I have to help him pee in a jar.
I probably lost most of you with the title. Ninety-percent of the rest at the word ‘shit.’ And by now there is only one of you left reading this TMI (too much information).
But the truth like I said is…we all pee, fart, shit, and have snotty noses. And if you can’t do those things with those closest to you, just how REAL are things?
And glossing that all over by ignoring the issue is one of the things I dislike most about my genre. Along with its fixation on young, buff, rich, and beautiful people. And its focus on saving those ‘bad boys.’
Another truth is that the romance genre creates unrealistic expectations is women. (And some men, too.) I am the first to admit that I escaped my bad marriages by reading and writing romance. It was easier and made me happier to read the fantasy than live my reality.
Some would argue that there is nothing wrong with that. That books, movies, and television are meant to be escapes. Fair enough to a point.
But they are also meant to be the catalyst for change. To challenge our preconceived notions, rip off our blinders, and force us to examine ourselves and the world in which we live.
Some people, editors and publishers especially, might say that it is fine for literary fiction or perhaps sci-fi, but certainly not for a genre like romance.
I disagree. As a writer, a reader, a feminist, and a woman, no genre holds more potential to empower women than this one. To help us negotiate this brave new world as we seek to break free of old patterns of patriarchy and misogyny. As we attempt to build a new model of equitable partnership for both sexes.
But in order to do that we need to break with old tropes. We need to get real. Another truth is those young, buff, beautiful, and rich people wouldn’t know true love if it hit them upside the head. (Perhaps I can think of one royal exception.) You have only to look at those Hollywood gossip shows or reality television to realize that.
It takes maturity, loss, and sometimes pain to appreciate, value, and nurture love when you find it. And how good can the sex be really if you’re worried about messing up your hair and make-up? As for rich, well, I would be hypocritical if I said that money did not make things a bit easier, but it does not solve every problem. And in fact, sometimes having it is as hard as not having it.
Yes, we need more stories with fat, old, dif-abled people. But we also need stories where people have snotty noses, pee, pooh, and fart. Okay, maybe, I’m not even brave enough for the pooh one, but I keep threatening to write a fart scene. Now that I have tackled snot and pee, I guess that it is the next bar.