It’s a process

Pam Regis, author of A Natural History of the Romance Novel, jumpstarted an online writing romance course. What prompted her to create the course? How is author Jennifer Crusie involved? Regis shared the process of starting up the class with the Popular Romance Project.


Why do you teach popular romance?

I’m a bit of a cheerleader of course for the romance. I’m a bit of a cheerleader. And any number of people have come up to me, and said, “Well, you know, I was thinking of writing one, and maybe I’ll do it, like, over Christmas break.” And my response is always, “What on Earth is stopping you?” And they sort of look at me. Occasionally, somebody will even try it, and they’ll say, “You know, it’s really hard.” And I say, “Well, you know, it’s just like writing everything else.” So it has—writing this genre is as valuable as writing any other genre, and it is as valuable as writing literary fiction, I would argue, and so courses to teach it make sense. What is more, people are hungry for courses to teach it. So it fills a need, and it provides, from my point of view, another form of legitimacy for the genre.

I’m still fighting the battle of getting the genre out of the ghetto, and my younger colleagues say, “Well, please. It’s—we’re done!” [laughs] But I’m still there sort of.

How do you teach romance writing?

It’s online and asynchronous. I could write the first class, and I did because it’s a lit class, but halfway through it, the romance writer who’s teaching it, Jennifer Crusie, just said, “Mine!,” picked it up, and ran; and she’s teaching all the rest of it. And the first cohort finishes this summer [of 2013. . .] Romance readers signed up for it, but romance readers who always thought they wanted to write or who have actually — had actually — already tried it signed up. This particular cohort came to the classes through Argh Ink, Jenny’s blog… “More than you ever wanted to know about Jenny Crusie” is the subtitle. Crusie has a really distinctive voice, and it’s there on the blog… However, she has a secret weapon, because she has an MFA in fiction.

What do students do in class?

They’re writing their hearts out. She’s doing what every writing teacher does. She’s talking them off of ledges. She’s telling them this is a process. In fact the T- shirt that we’re doing for the first cohort has, you know, the logo and everything on the front and then the class motto, and the class motto is indeed “It’s a process,” and that goes on the back of the t-shirt.

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