Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Column: The Importance of Being Earnest... Hemingway by Cindi Madsen

I like Ernest Hemingway, but I’ve never devoured one of his books. The Old Man and the Sea isn’t a very big book, but it took me a couple weeks to read. Probably because I read it about the same time the last Harry Potter book came out—I finished that 700 page bad boy in a day and a half. I tend to like books with a lot of romance, humor, and big action. But sometimes genre writing is looked down on, as if writing a book that makes people fall in love or laugh doesn’t require skills or brains. Writing is hard work, regardless of genre.

So, I’m going to go ahead and make a confession. I’m a…a… Okay, deep breath. I’m a romance writer. I used to cover it up, claiming suspense or comedy, but the truth is, all my books have a strong romantic element. Finally, I’m able to admit it. Of course now that I’m admitting to it, I’ve had people look at me, face all scrunched up, and ask, like they’re sure they heard me wrong, “Romance? Like fluff or bodice-ripping?”

Well, neither. My characters have real problems, and along the way they fall in love. I certainly wouldn’t call it fluff, but I’m all about a happy ending. That’s just me. And if that’s who you are, too, or if you write the bodice-ripping, deep thought provoking, literary, historical, or Christian fiction, I say be true to yourself and go for it. If you want to be the next Hemingway, Austen, Steinbeck, more power to you. Because at the end of the day, it’s about writing what you want to write—what you love. Even if family, friends, and your mom give you “that look” when they find out what you’re writing. Or even more terror-inducing, if they actually read it. If you don’t love what you’re writing, it’ll show. Plus, it ends up feeling like homework. I’m learning to write for me, and hope that other people will love it, too. So whatever you write, hold your head high, be true to who you are, and find the joy of being earnest.

Cindi Madsen sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting, revising, and falling in love with her characters. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to by a new pair. She lives in Colorado with her husband and three children, and is a member of PPW and PPRW. You can check out her blog at

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