My mother’s name was Rose. These days it is an old-fashioned name and ironically acceptable because everything old is new. It amuses me because I am Italian and tradition asks we pass names down so the trend doesn’t really apply. It is something we do, or used to do. I passed the name on to my eldest daughter. I gave her Rose as a middle name and amazingly enough when added to her own name it came together in poetic harmony, an aesthetic treat for the ears. My brother did the same with his daughter. It is a tie to the past in the best possible way, although not all names admittedly are as pretty.
These days’ people seem too ready to throw traditions away, or to turn things around and make it appear as if they invented it. They play with the old names and spell them in weird and wonderful ways under the belief this will make it unique. Unfortunately the result is often gross mispronunciations and a lot of spelling mistakes on the part of innocent bystanders. If you re-invent the rules then you need to provide a new rule book. Sometimes we can strive too hard to be different, almost as if we need to prove something about ourselves.
We see this reflected in fashions, in music and films and television shows. It seems the more offbeat the better but is it? We split things into a variety of genres not realising that by aiming for a specific audience we are splitting ourselves into a part of, instead of the whole, and worse we are sending out signals that being part of a select group is good. It is, if it’s for the right reasons but I too often think we are hell-bent on segregating for the wrong reason – to stand apart. Did you know that romance novels can be put under an amazing number of categories? Whilst I see the good in this I question whether we are encouraging a narrower perspective, and again that segregation. Are we trying to herd the audience into a box? Or are we trying to prevent the existence of boxes by spreading things out?
My novel Unexpected Obsession is a romance and set in modern day. I called it contemporary romance but lately I have questioned my decision. People do searches under a more limited or precise category. The book does have quite a few sex scenes scattered throughout the reading journey. Is this then erotica? However the emphasis in the novel is as much on people and their differences, as it is on relationships that involve sex. It is about feelings we hide under the guise of attraction because commitment is painful in societal terms. Does it then still fit under the contemporary romance banner?
My characters are a little broken as are many of us. Life is forever throwing those almost impossible to catch, curve-balls. I was hoping to show that it is our reactions to the broken pieces that determine whether those pieces can be put back together to form a whole. The novel also has an element of the forbidden. Life is never smooth and just one sided, is it? So then, do I have a psychological drama, and is it still romantic? But, wait a minute, it is a love story so doesn’t that make it automatically romantic? You can see it can become quite a conundrum. I don’t know where it fits. I’m not sure I want it to fit somewhere specifically. I just wanted to tell a story. I wanted a rose. Instead I got a rose bush with a million buds and if I want to be noticed I have to re-shape one of those buds so it stands out on that bush for people to find
My head is spinning just thinking about how much we complicate everything we do in life. Like the buds on that bush I wanted to open up under the sun and bloom. I didn’t care about what colour I was, or where the rose bush grew, and I didn’t mind the idea of being one of many. In fact I found that quite comforting. It’s not enough though, and I guess this it’s really about me choosing a genre. Standing out is good as long as you have the willingness to stand out for the right reasons. Choosing to change the spelling of a name willy-nilly without considering future repercussions makes little sense. (I am a teacher who is now frightened of roll-call). Change has to have meaningful purpose because it is that purpose that will carry it, through or over, the hurdles life will bring. Whatever category, or whatever spelling choice, pales into insignificance if the rose has aphids.
So I am going with contemporary romance, and throwing in some drama involving different cultures and travel. Thinking too hard and too much will only burn us out before we get the chance to try to warm anyone’s heart. The truth is we can only try to do our very best at what we love. If we do it well it won’t matter if it isn’t different. It will be real. Slowing down and smelling the roses instead of creating a new species may have us finding a deeper satisfaction than we might have imagined.
Until next time and my next tangent, stay well and happy and maybe, please find me on that rose bush and leave a review. I am the tiny pink one people can’t quite see yet