Well, Labour did well in the election and denied the Tories a clear democratic mandate to strip away our human rights. That’s good. On the other hand the Tories have now created some sort of devil’s alliance with the DUP, and that’s not great*. You know?
The world is a scary place. What can you do but keep going and hope people will be better. Maybe have faith that our elected officials will realise that we shouldn’t take away people’s human rights. That sort of blue sky thinking.
Honestly, I have written this article a dozen times and it’s so hard to stop ranting about politics. I’m frustrated, and angry. When I was a kid, I thought the world would be so much better by now. That we’d be better.
Maybe that’s why romance appeals to me. Our genre isn’t just about interpersonal romance, it takes a romantic view of the world. Not a blinkered look, or a rose-tinted one, but one that’s generally optimistic. There’s not always a happy ever after, but generally the world at the end of the story is a better one that we met in the first few pages. Maybe only in a small way, but that positivity matters.
We have to look at the cynical too, the Red Harvest’s and Cotton comes to Harlem’s* (great books, but ones that…erode the world they exist in, that highlight a moral entropy that drags at the protagonists). They are the stick to push us on, to poke us into looking straight at the world we fear we’re walking into.
However, you need the carrot too. We need to imagine the world we want to walk into. We need to believe that people can be happy, that the bad guys will get kicked in the ass, and good triumphs. Worlds where the rights for vulnerable groups aren’t being rolled back to the days of ‘Ulster says no to Sodomy’ and the police climbing ladders to look in gay men’s windows. Books where good things happen to good people sometimes.
Or, in my books, the slightly shitty but generally well-intentioned people. I’m Irish, even my optimism comes with a splash of cynicism. We’d laugh at a funeral, us lot, and in fact I have. (In fairness, the phrase ‘Lazarus was loved by Jesus as the son of God, but also, fully, as a man’ should not be used in a funeral service. Controversial, but Biblical slash fic should stay on the internet.)
Anyhow, I think that’s part of the reason why romance’s appeal to me. It’s not the only one, or even the one that gets me up and writing every day, but it’s part of it. I like to imagine worlds where we leave everyone a little bit happier than when they started. Also worlds where people get to do cool stuff and then smooch a bit.
*The DUP were founded by Ian Paisley, a man who campaigned to stop the government from decriminalising homosexuality with the ‘Ulster says no to Sodomy’ slogan, and Peter Robinson, who once took a gang of friends into Ireland and tried to annex a small town. One thing you can’t accuse the DUP of is hiding who they are or what they stand for.