OPINION: No need to live what you write

OPINION: I was fortunate enough to attend my first Australian Romance Readers Association conference in Canberra earlier this month.

The weekend also coincided with International Women's Day on the Sunday.

There was something empowering about being at an event that focused on women and there were plenty of discussions about women writing stories about women, for women.

The romance community is used to copping a certain amount of stigma about our beloved genre because it is hugely overlooked amongst other literary groups.

But I wasn't anticipating that type of animosity from those within our camps.

You see, when a group of women of this size get together, one of two things usually happen.

Either they band together and embrace one another because we understand the struggles of being a woman, or personal insecurity begins to rear its ugly head, and the defence mechanisms of attacking one another begins.

During the event it was the former but soon after the event was over, articles that focused on the negatives surfaced.

Most writers are introverts.

What some see as arrogance may just be someone's excruciating shyness.

One article mentioned that romance writers are extremely out of touch because they are aging, overweight women who have nothing in common with the youthful characters that they write about in their books.

What I find most interesting about these types of comments is that I am a youthful 34 and a size 10.

Does this mean I am closer to my characters than other authors who aren't?

How about the fact that my last female heroine was a homicidal prima ballerina and prior to that my heroine was a high-class prostitute.

Am I still meant to be like my characters, just because I write about these subjects?

So does this mean I can't write about these subjects because of lack of experience?

The same can be said about writing detailed sex scenes.

As often asked during interviews, because I write about this subject I immediately become a sex-crazed maniac.

Much to my husband's disappointment this is not the case.

So what is it that makes people assume women are incapable of storytelling unless they have lived their subject matter?

I do wonder if a men's writer's convention would question whether Matthew Reilly had enough experience in the special forces, or would Stephen King be asked how many murders he's actually committed.

Trish Hamilton is an author based in Hervey Bay

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