During the Golden Heart and RITA awards ceremony at RWA on Saturday, emcee Anne Stuart quipped that RWA in DC focused on "the power of love instead of the love of power," perhaps a slightly different focus than most DC dealings.
This distinction, this inversion of words, highlights the difference between RWA and most academic conferences I attend. At RWA, scores of people--mostly women, though a few men were always sprinkled in the audience--listened and nodded as speaker after speaker extolled the power of both love and of writing, a power seemingly magnified when the two were brought together into the most popular genre of writing in the country.
As I tweeted on Friday, the conference speakers and attendees didn't apologize for their content. They didn't cast ironic glances or make sardonic winks as they told stories of love tested, writing rejected, and, finally, goodness rewarded. Instead, they believed in the power of the genre, the power of words, and the power of love to...fundamentally change people's lives.
From Suzanne Brockmann's impassioned discussion of breaking through social differences through writing romance to Eloisa James' story of the intersection of art and life, smart, accomplished, professional women celebrated everything intrinsic about the genre.
What a revelation.
At most academic conferences, and, indeed in the academy itself, such devotion and affection is often met with derision. Where is your skepticism? Your irony? Your cynical, jaded, world-weary, too-good for all this silliness demeanor?
How much of "literature" is about love?
How much of human life is devoted to finding emotional connection and blessed understanding?
How much tragedy and bitterness emanates from the failure to find such connections, or the heartache of connections broken?
So, why the skepticism?
Why not a happy ending?
Why not emotional satisfaction?
What are we afraid of?
"But perfect love drives out fear." (1 John 4:18)