Harlequin romance

I actually went through a period in my life when I was addicted to Harlequin Romances.  It was after I was widowed and I missed loving, being loved, aka sex.  I found an HR book somewhere, read it and cried. I missed being held and the goopy little romance reminded me of what I was missing.  I read more such books.  i called them safe sex.  I got over them soon but for a few months I was reading about five a week.  Silly me. 

I'd forgotten about them until the other afternoon when I was checking out my mini-tablet  (no WiFi on  the bus) and found some free downloads of Harlequin Romances - no idea where they came from - but I thought, how bad can they be?  I used to read them, after all.

In a matter of minutes, I switched off Minnie - aargh! - what a terrible book!  The grammar was appalling; the choice of words was ridiculous and often inaccurate; the emotions were unbelievable; and the focus on the wrong kind of details totally insulting. Oh dear.  

At one time, when I was flailing around trying to make a living, I thought I might try writing one of those soppy, happy stories, but found I could not.  It's trickier than it looks.  At times in my career I have been a writer-in-residence at various libraries where I had to read  writing samples of wannabe writers.   I could spot a fake attempt at an HR in the first few paragraphs, especially the ones by men.  They simply were not authentic.

The late novelist, John Gardner, (1933-1982),  who was a fine creative writing teacher and a great influence on Raymond Carver, for one,  commented on this kind of kitschy writing. He said , "Not everyone is capable of writing junk fiction. It requires an authentic junk mind."  

I just don't have it.  Too bad, I guess.   Harlequin writers make a lot of money.