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Too Cerebral?

Why, yes, since you ask (winter 2019): I did once attempt to write a romance. In fact, I even finished it, unlike most of the writing projects I’ve begun. It slavishly follows the conventions of the genre at that time (1984). Closed Hearts, I called it. I even sent it out for a few rounds of rejection before I gave up.

Unsurprisingly, my tone was far too cerebral. (My heroine and hero were a Colorado librarian who landed a job at Yale and an aristocratic New England lawyer-cum-professor.) I did garner one letter of detailed advice on how I might adjust my target audience, my voice, or both. I was excited to receive the recognition of that letter, but I never followed up on it.

However, I certainly gained a healthy respect for the genre, and indeed for genre writing in general. The required formulae that define a genre result at worst (or, I should say, at the worst that reaches publication) in reading matter that is to the mind and heart as multiple-generation photocopies are to the eyes. But at best they provide bedrock on which good writers construct thoroughly worthwhile books.

—KARELLYNNE WERTHEIMER WATKINS ’74, Greenwood Village, Colo.