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Smut?

4

10719079_781761268557779_1108630204_n    A new friend told me she had read one of my books.  Her compliment?  “You write good smut, woman.”

I smiled.  I’ve heard this before from people who believe they are being clever or just have no idea what they are saying about themselves.  They think they are talking about me.

“We call it sex, not smut,” I replied easily.  I choose not to take offense.  I like the woman.  She is nice.

Besides, the scenario isn’t new.  Once an acquaintance introduced me to her adult son by saying, “Cathy writes trash.”

“No, I don’t,” I replied, again easily, and held out my hand.  My acquaintance flustered a response.  I don’t know if she was embarrassed to have been contradicted or if she had realized how insulting she’d been.

The truth is, many books—literary, science-fiction, mystery, and so on—contain sex.  Most is graphic. That is the age we live in.

However, only Romance seems to get slapped with the labels of trash, smut, or the lovely “beach reads.”  Is it because we focus specifically on relationships?  Or because we think that what happens between two people in love, and all the craziness that goes into discovering what love means, the stuff that makes every couple I know smile over the real life memory, is worth writing about?

Don’t mistake me, I know people say stupid things.  Some meanly sharpen their wits on other people’s tastes.  I am aware that many of my genre’s staunchest supporters, and many of our best writers, started off thinking they were too intelligent for a romance novel.  We win them over by writing good books and by telling stories that capture the reader’s imagination.

Still, it can be frustrating to receive “compliments” from those who ignore three hundred pages of plot twists filled with conflict and interesting characters to focus on—what?  The roughly five pages (or twenty-five pages or even two hundred and twenty-five pages) of a book that contains sex?

Maybe intimacy makes them feel uncomfortable.  Maybe those five pages hit a little too close to the core of their beings.  Maybe there are people who really do feel that the most fulfilling act between two people in love is not about trust, communication, and commitment.  Maybe they feel it is smut.

In that case, I have no argument.

And a good deal of pity.

4 Comments

  1. Justine Dare Davis (@Justine_D_Davis)
    Justine Dare Davis (@Justine_D_Davis)10-08-2014

    “Maybe there are people who really do feel that the most fulfilling act between two people in love is not about trust, communication, and commitment. Maybe they feel it is smut.

    In that case, I have no argument.

    And a good deal of pity.”

    AMEN, sister. Well said.

  2. Annette Naish
    Annette Naish11-18-2014

    I was one of those people who did not understand about women and romance novels. Then I became the entire staff of a very tiny library trying to get certified by the state.. A good portion of our books were donated, and a good portion of those were romance novels. I believed there must be something there or there would not be so many smart women reading those books. Fast forward several years – I had been dumped by a husband – and I needed something to give me a lovely feeling about the world. I found a romance novel at the library, and I fell in love. It was amazing to me, it made me laugh, it made me cry and most of all it made me realize that somewhere in the world, there was love. Oh yes, people had sex. If I remembered correctly, people had sex. Now granted, it had been a very long time, and my memory may have been failing, but noooooo I am pretty sure somewhere in the world people had sex. I want a plot and characters who are interesting. I want humor and witty conversations. There needs to be more than sex scenes strung together but it is not smut, it is not trash, it is nothing more than a love story. Cathy, I believe if people are calling it smut, they have no earthly idea what a true romance novel is.

    • Cathy Maxwell
      Cathy Maxwell11-18-2014

      Well said, Annette!

"The Books You Love To Read. Three time winner of the Historical Love and Laughter award" - Cathy Maxwell