Resurrecting Cinderella: Romance is More Than a Fairy Tale

There’s one question I get asked repeatedly as an author.  Why Romance?

It’s a fair question, given that Romance is the only constant in my writing — I’ve scaled the genre range from Science Fiction to Fantasy, to Paranormal, to legal thriller and military fiction.  But there’s always been that element of Romance.

The answer is a little more complicated.  It’s a story in itself.  One of love, and loss.  One of searching for an elusive feeling that came and went through my life so swiftly that it left me with the understanding that something was missing from every other area of my life.

People have spent a lot of my life judging me, for various reasons.  Very, very early on, I learned that the only way to escape that judgment was to become invisible in my own life.  Only by being invisible would I know when someone truly saw me.

Complicated, huh?  Hang on… I’m getting to the point.

From a very young age, most girls are fascinated by the story of Cinderella.  They want that handsome prince to swoop in and take them away, make all their dreams come true.  Problem is, most of those dreams are shallow and involve lots of glitz, glitter, and material wealth.  They want the castle, the fanfare, and they want a handsome prince who can somehow read their minds and know exactly what they want at all times.

The problem is, that vision of Cinderella doesn’t last.  It has no place in the real world.  And, from as far back as I can remember, the glittery image of Cinderella’s version of “Happily Ever After” was something I knew to be false.  I wanted no part of that rich, glittery image.

To me, Cinderella and her story embodied another whole image — one that had nothing to do with riches, palaces, or pomp and circumstance (really, can anyone see me in a tiara?  I know I can’t!).

Do I identify with Cinderella?  In a word: YES.  I was that invisible girl – the one others rarely saw unless she was being punished for some transgression (whether real or a figment of certain parties’ imaginations).  I was the one to be ridiculed and laughed at, when acknowledged, but mostly to be part of the scenery, and never really allowed to blossom.

From a very young age, I dreamed… Not of being swept away in some whirlwind of riches and self-indulgence, but of actually being SEEN.  To me, the most important element of the Cinderella story was that Prince Charming saw Cinderella — not just the glamorous girl that he danced with at the ball, but something more.  He saw the woman beneath the tattered and ignored cinder girl.  He saw her spirit, her courage, and her grace.  In his eyes, she was no longer invisible.

I found my Prince Charming, once upon a time.  I won’t get into the who, when, how, or where.  From the moment it became apparent to us both that we were more than friends, I knew that no one else would understand.  We were both free and available to be involved, but there were other complications — issues I wasn’t willing to face, or to let him face because of me.

Because of this very special man, I learned that love isn’t an easy thing.  It gives you wings, but like Icarus, you have to be careful about how close you get to the sun.  There are equal parts joy and danger, laughter and tears, in loving someone.  The only thing you can count on, when love is true, is that the person who truly loves you will see YOU… They can find you in a crowded room — not because they read your mind, but because they bother looking for you, in the first place.  To them, you couldn’t be invisible if you tried.  And, to them, you never want to be invisible again.

So, I write Romance because I believe in that feeling.  I believe there really IS a Prince Charming out there.  I believe in Cinderella.  Whatever you make of that, I can’t control your thoughts — I can only tell you what I know.  I write heroines who can rescue themselves, who befriend dragons and tigers, and who aren’t afraid to kick a little ass from time to time.  But no matter how flawed or stoic my heroines are, they never completely lose sight of that little girl who wants nothing more than to really, truly be seen.

I’ll wrap this up with a little piece of advice I learned about love and fairy tales, a long time ago:  True love is a treasure that may only come around once in a lifetime.  And whether your “Prince Charming” is a man or a woman, the only thing you need to do in order to find them is simply believe in the possibility.

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