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Romance Novel Addict

Why the spiritual romance novel disappoints

While reading passages from an old journal entry, I remembered my initial thoughts about the spiritual romance novel. I was disappointed in the genre, not through any fault of the authors or their stories but in the definition itself. It seemed to neglect a portion of it's readership that I felt existed but had not yet found it's collective voice.

These novels failed to reach the audiences I envisioned for my stories or that I represented as a spiritual-not-religious reader. I wanted to contribute to the development of a new romance genre and, though I became busy filling notebooks with spiritualnot religiouslove stories, I never forgot my dream: to connect with others who share this vision.

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Along the way I've discovered many a good fiction story about spirituality, some having a romantic element but without the happy ending to qualify them as romance novels. Some Victorian novelists, including Marie Corelli, attempted to write the spiritual love story; instead they invented it's predecessor, the quasi spiritual romance novel. And though these novels do not qualify as romance in today's form, we can learn a lot from themespecially how many became best sellers in spite of their literary flaws.

Writing for ourselves becomes food to the readers soul

The spiritual romance novel as a genre seems to ache for it's own rebirth into something new. The spiritual love story in it's purest form can be redefined for today. I see it as a read that understands the sophistication of the spiritualnot religiousreader, while embracing a diversity of philosophies inherent within that readership.

My original idea for the Romance Novel Addict website was to create a portal for kindred authors and readers to explore and share thoughts on the inevitability of romantic love in this pure sense. The stories of spiritual romance novels can themselves become powerful metaphors for the ethereal lovers living as archetypes inside the hearts of all people. In many cases, these lovers are yet waiting to be romanced. What an opportunity for gifted romance novelists, to find themselves poised on the cutting edge as tellers of the new spiritual love story!

It's also an opportunity for readers to celebrate spiritual love stories already out there, the hidden jewels of other romance genres. Readers, bloggers and writers who want to promote the spiritual-not-religious love story may want to broaden their connections to share what they've read, and inspire writers to contribute to this proposed new genre.

Are romantic love and spiritual romance synonymous?

Romantic love and spiritual romance are synonymous in the sense of the magic power each holds in it's potential for universal healing. My sense of this potential has only grown over the years. So has my hope for the coming together of avant-garde authors, readers and bloggers who also recognize the need for a new romance genre and their ability to call forth it's creation.

The intrinsic power of the romance novel in any sub-genre elevates readers with the promised happy ending. They are inspired by any good love story, but they might not realize how subtly the consciousness behind a novel advises their views on love and life. I've seen an author demonstrate this in his work, showing us the unifying power living in mythologies of all traditions. The story of myth itself is one of adventure, having a power that brandishes it's own archetypal sword to shape entire cultures. Story has been and ever will be fascinating in it's ability to reflect, reform and unify the divergent beliefs of cultures over time.

Subtly wielding our own power as readers and writers of the 21st Century spiritual romance novel

Romance fiction lovers, like the universal story of lovers portrayed in the genre, also effect the culture of their times. They do this by developing their consciousness about the story and how it makes them feel. Fiction writers, like all myth makers and story tellers, hold this subtle power in the palm of their hands each and every time they sit down to write; it's a feeling close to worship. Writing, like all art, is second to love as co-creation at it's best.

The issue then is not that the story is already alive and asking to be written. Good questions for the spiritual romance novelist to ask herself are about how she intends to use the subtler elements of the love story to show how life and love are sizzling with spirituality. Can this be done without 'talking' about faith or boring readers with theories from quantum physics, or any number of things that people tend to confuse with spirituality in it's purest sense? These ideas may be shared by the romance novel's characters but how does she not spell them out in excruciating detail that not only clouds but kills the story?

Begin by finding better examples from authors who have mastered solid plot structuring and the use of more subtle elements of style. Writers who want to contribute to existing romance genres or this proposed new one can become mentored and taught by these masters. Rather than encourage a slurry of throwing yet another New Age version of the spiritual romance novel into the mix, let's work toward a recreation of the spiritual-not-religious genre in it's full potential, ensuring that it gain favorable attention.

The new definition of spirituality is not religious yet makes no judgment on religious beliefs

How can the story in the spiritual romance novel speak to cultural creatives who, when questioned, find no easy classification of their belief system, preferring instead to call themselves 'spiritual, not religious'?

The needs of evolving cultural creatives can be met by a writer's ability to portray the elemental beauty of love itself. Like spinners of the fairy tale, spiritual romance novelists can show the inevitability of romantic love between two people without theological or philosophical debate. The romance reader is not as interested in the characters' spiritual evolution or internal struggle with achieving enlightenment as she is in their love story.

The romance writer who sparingly touches on spiritual issues gives the love story it's true place: center stage. She* can relay spirituality in it's pure form through the love story itself to create a magnetic bond between the reader and author as powerful as that between the story's lovers.

The power of love's destiny in the spiritual romance novel

Whether or not a writer believes in fate as part of her spiritual path, the couple in the romance story must show the reader how they feel they are 'meant for each other'. Time and space present never ending intrigue as the obstacle to their union. Readers don't have to be lead to ask whether chance, fate, or a powerful divine intervention brings these lovers together to finally unites them. Spiritual romance readers just want to feel the divine impulse of life that asserts itself so poignantly in romantic love.

When the characters in the spiritual romance novel fall in love, they portray the universal story of how they each finally listened to their heart. So, what makes this a spiritual love story? The lovers do, when they venture into the unknown territory of the 'other'. It begins to redefine their lives, affecting even their core beliefs or those of others. This is tenuous but inevitable.

Spiritual romance novelists still use tension, especially in stories about Utopian or conscious-egalitarian love relationships. These lovers don't arrive on the scene as already spiritually perfected gods and goddesses, descended from Mt. Olympus! They may strive to that evolved awareness, but not without a struggle with lesser evolutions in their own and others' consciousness that oppose not only their love but that love as it unites in spiritual expansion.

This is neatly done in mythologies where archetypal lovers form the center of great epics. But the romance novel is not about the epic; the epic merely forms a backdrop for the love story that by now everyone agrees must end well for the lovers no matter how terrific the challenging force. What is most important in the spiritual romance novel, then, is how these characters come face-to-face with their destiny as spiritually compatible lovers, even in the midst of unimaginable circumstances.

The union of Alpha and Omega

A writer or a reader of the spiritual romance naturally imagines how it would feel being in relationship with a spiritually exciting man, a man who represents the hero in his most powerful archetype. This is an opportunity to objectify your fantasies about a powerful Alpha rising to the level of an equally powerful Omega where he may share her crown and her throne. While his Omega is not an inexperienced 'maiden in distress', neither is she a man-eating Amazon.

This is the power couple found in any romance genre but, in the hands of a skilled spiritual romance novelist, can represent ultimate power. It can become the decisive moment in the novel's potential to create something close to the feeling of worship between man and woman. This is idealized as the marriage of true equals, and something every romance novel should achieve.

Yet the expectation for this in the spiritual love story is much higher. It brings us back to the analogy of the two lovers who, though not necessarily descended in their whole aspects of divinity, have still succeeded in achieving a completion to equal or even rival that of the gods and goddesses whose applause is lost in the louder thunder of the new creators on earth.

A new motif for writing the spiritual romance novel

The spiritual romance novelist who writes by an internal compass guides the path of 'the lovers' as well as that of the reader who identifies with them. She can use her mastery of style and structure to forge a lighted path through many a labyrinth including that of the publishing world itself. Her job is to bring all of these elements into the inevitable powerful union representative of the one everyone vicariously hungers for in reading the romance itself. She then satisfies everyone, especially herself as her most loyal reader.

The secret to good fiction writing, whether in romance and the spiritual romance genre or any genre is to love it so much you would be satisfied if it we're for your eyes only. Many people write this way and never share their stories, calling them journals or notebooks. Some authors start out writing as a hobby until something changes inside them and they just know their story wants to be out there for the world to enjoy.

Each story in this new spiritual romance genre can be as unique as it's creator, appealing to a silent but hungry segment of today's cultural creatives who may become tomorrow's spiritual romance novel devotees. The reader's fascination for the spiritual romance novel is fundamentally the same as it is for readers of other romance genres: a sexy trek through and unpredictable labyrinth.

The difference is that the spiritual-not religious romance reader's delight thrives on the couple's awareness of their internal romance as it blends with the outer relationship. This reader wants to revel in how the lovers become one with each other and the universe through the primal power of their union. She savors the slow build up toward the story's climax while it's lovers create their own version of a 'new earth'.

And the author? She writes for herself and her love of this specialized genre, polarized as the compass needle pointing true north. There she finds completion, in her muse as polestar.

_______

*My use of she is can be interchanged with he where it applies to the reader. It is not intended to endorse nor imply a stereotype of the romance as being only by and for women.

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