Monday, February 6, 2012
When Is Romance Not Romantic?
Apparently, yes and no.
In recent weeks a battle occurred. It didn’t make much noise in the press. No lawyers or courts were involved. This fight didn’t even take place between authors and readers, but between the authors themselves. An annual contest was to be held, one that had been around for several years.
A group of writers called Romance Writers Ink (RWI), a chapter of the national organization Romance Writers of America (RWA), announced its annual competition of romance stories. But this year the RWI membership opted to change the rules. The members weren’t comfortable with a specific style of story and no longer wanted those stories eligible for consideration.
Yes, in the past, same sex stories had not only been welcome in RWI’s competition, but actually won twice. Yet, this year, for whatever reason, the members had become “uncomfortable” with allowing those stories into their contest.
The fecal matter hit the oscillating blades. RWI and RWA were bombarded with emails, letters, and phone calls. The end result? The contest was cancelled. RWA will discuss the topic in an upcoming meeting.
Some authors are claiming a victory was won in the contest’s closure. RWI remains unapologetic. RWA will look into the matter.
The bottom line is… the contest won’t be held. No stories will be considered. I don’t see a victory in this. What I see is a gaping wound in literature. For the first time in a contest’s history, the rules were changed to exclude a specific genre. Instead of repairing the problem, acknowledging a mistake had been made, all authors suffered. A door that had been open to all forms of romance was slammed closed. Another door opened - one to segregation and discrimination, and it remains open regardless of whether this contest is ever again held.
No one won this battle. Because it had to be waged, we all lost.
DA Kentner is an author and journalist. www.kevad.net