So, once upon a time, or last week in movie land, women’s dialogue and ‘issues’ were termed ‘the slop’. Slop. Not fit for human consumption. Good enough for farm animals, maybe. But not of any intrinsic, nourishing value.
And, of course, the romance novel is no doubt prime ‘slop’ fodder, as it’s filled with women’s dialogue and ‘issues’.
But that’s to the uninitiated, the literary snob who buys J.M. Coetzee to place on the bookshelf rather than to read, those who think poetry books are what keeps publishing houses afloat.
Romance novels have ‘come a long way, baby’. Here’s why:
It’s a lavish, three-course dinner, fit to your culinary desires, that’s guaranteed to leave you satisfied.
‘On Writing’ is pretty much the bible for writers. Part-autobiography, part-writer’s toolbox, Stephen King’s no nonsense approach to writing is cited by more ‘how to’ lists than coconut oil. On writing. Notice how it doesn’t examine the corollary - on not writing.
Not writing is familiar to writers. Staring at blank pages, saying a prayer to a truant muse, talking about writing. But not writing.
I’m not writing at the moment. Well, I am. Lots and lots of client work. But of my own writing, niks, nothing, rien, bugger all.
But you should write every day. Writers write, after all.
Sometimes it’s about timing.
Whatever is looking to be birthed, isn’t quite there yet. Bits and pieces float about, and I waft about with my net catching them. But it’s not a novel. Or a novella. Or a series. Or an essay. It’s more of a feeling. Parts of a plot. Snippets of character. Sitting down to write doesn’t feel right. It’s not ready yet. Note that word ‘ready’ - read, this novel is not ready to be read, let alone written.
But you should write every day.
And that’s advice I’d give to anyone. Yet, there have been these fallow periods in which nothing happens, nothing at all. And they tend to coincide with my own life’s cycles, this ebb and flow (in case you’re wondering, I’m not in the flow part). A year ago, almost exactly, I found the ground pulled away from me, leaving me tumbling to find the next step. Through good friends, I managed to hoist myself up again, bewildered, disorientated. Did I write through this time? Yes, and a novella was born. But since then, while my life finds its own groove, my creativity has been dislodged, shaken up, unsettled.
Not writing is time to read. Not writing is time to watch. Not writing is time to observe.
Not writing is waiting for those bits and pieces to take root, in their time, to start telling me their story. I can’t force them. Or threaten them. Or cajole. Or bribe.
Not writing is trusting this part of the process. Not writing is opportunity to re-read ‘On Writing’ and savour every word, as I prepare for the next adventure in my writer’s journey.
My dad was visiting London for a few days, and thought hey, why not catch a show? When in London and all. The choice? Chicago. Because of the music? The highkicks? The singing along to ‘he had it comin’? Nope. Lynda Carter was Momma Morton. The Lynda Carter. On stage. Live. WONDER WOMAN. I parted with my cash quicker than a hardened hustler on his latest get-rich-quick scheme.
As I type this, my collection of Wonder Woman statues command my windowsill. And yes, one of them is a limited edition Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman statue. I have Wonder Woman paintings on my landings. Her comic books line my shelves. And when I stumble out of Zumba class into the pitchblack that is the rec centre’s parking lot, it is my Lego Diana Prince who lights the way.
Why Wonder Woman? Why not Scarlet Witch, say? Or Selina Kyle (I am a fan, don't get me wrong)? I don't know. I can't pinpoint exactly. Maybe it's nostalgia. When I saw the trailer for Patty Jenkin's Wonder Woman, I got gooseflesh. Maybe it's because there's so little in the way of female superheroes who define hope.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment since the 70s,” I told the chap behind the counter as he handed over my popcorn.
“Shooo-eeee. Long time. I don’t even think my mother had even thought of me yet,” said Nu Metro’s finest. “Is it like a science fiction movie?”
“It’s a superhero movie,” I replied, hesitant. “It’s THE superhero movie,” I added a second later. He laughed, and asked me to type my pin in again.
It has been a long time. It’s been a very long time. And finally, the Wonder Woman I’ve immortalised for so long since doing the whoosh in front of the TV set (to change into WW, of course), has arrived on the big screen. Well, not the big big screen - we were in cinema four.
AND IT WAS EVERY KIND OF AWESOME.
Where to start? First up, Robin Wright needs her own movie series with her as a ninja assassin/warrior goddess/Amazon war heroine. She’s up there with Grace Jones’s Conan the Destroyer for simply awesome fearsome feisty fabulousness. More please. More.
And then there’s Diana, herself. When she steps into that first battle scene, full regalia on, sword and shield in hand, only one thought ran through my mind, EVERY GIRL ON THE PLANET NEEDS TO WATCH THIS MOVIE. Every. Single. One.
Diana is fierce. She is awesome. And she stands her guard, holds her power, and is absolutely focused on her purpose. She does not kowtow, simper, flatter, or use her feminine wiles. She meets soft-soaping with lingual dexterity, indifference with passion, and dismissiveness with defiance. She is truly wonderous.
I fell in love all over again with a hero whose values and poised femaleness were assets, who was a woman not a girl, and who demonstrated that compassion and care did not make women weak, not at all.
The movie itself is so much better than I could have imagined (it’s only really bum note is when it lapses into standard superheroism). It’s a war story, a love story, an origins story. It’s the first female superhero film. And it spoke directly to my heart.
Head on over to Facebook 4-7 June as we celebrate Erica Taylor's release of A SUITABLE AFFAIR. It's going to be a HUGE party, with thirteen fabulous writers chatting online, giving away fabulous stuff, and generally shooting the breeze about our favourite topic - romance writing!
Want to stand a chance to win a copy of 'THE HUNT', or an Amazon gift voucher? I'm up on Monday 5 June, 13:00-14:15 CST/20:00-21:15 CAT.
I'll also be talking about vampires and werewolves on the screen and in the pages, sharing with you some of the songs that played a big inspiration, and other random romance writing bits and pieces, including some exciting news.
Would love to see you there!
Here's the link to join:
Learn more about A SUITABLE AFFAIR at Erica's website: http://www.ericataylorauthor.com/