by Tara Frejas
I have a confession to make: Some days, I don’t think of myself as a romance writer. At least, not in the strictest sense.
I’m not a big romance reader either, not until I became part of the #romanceclass community. Even then, all the romance books I’ve since read and reviewed are books written by #romanceclass authors. And while majority of my peers can list several romance authors as their writing influences, I would name Mitch Albom. You could hardly call him a romance writer.
There are two things I’ve always loved about Albom’s stories. First, they often deal with the subject of mortality. Second, most of them meld fantasy with reality. I will always be thankful for The Five People You Meet in Heaven, which inspired wonder in the melancholic. I told myself that someday, I’m going to attempt something like it, send him a copy and say, “Thank you for inspiring me.”
When I started writing Paper Planes Back Home in 2013, my only goal was to get some plot bunnies to stop bugging me. There was no intent to publish it as a novel, nor did I have plans of becoming a full-fledged fantasy-romance writer. It just so happened that a lovely little artwork appeared on my Tumblr dash and stirred something in me. I knew at once I had a love story, but I didn’t want it to be just another love story.
But guess what? It is just another love story.
Because the truth is that every story, romantic or not, has already been told one way or another. The only difference lies in how they are told. Paper Planes Back Home’s interwoven story lines of lovers facing an impending separation, of lovers falling apart and of strangers falling love is not something new.
And so I worried about being a cliché. But I had my paper planes. They were my answer to “what makes this love story different from all others already told,” my unique selling proposition. And I’d like to think it worked.
Because even as positive comments warm my heart every single time, I also get messages from readers who picked up the book for the romance. They closed the pages with lingering thoughts of steadfast love, faith and hope that there are figurative paper planes that could bring their loved ones back home. I didn’t plan on it, but what initially began as a simple love story became something inspirational, and that felt like an achievement in itself.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, my brief journey as a published author has so far solidified these beliefs:
No one can tell a story like you can. So long as you find new ways of telling your story, you need not worry about writing with the same tropes or falling into clichés.
What may sound like a simple, worn-out storyline to you may be new to someone else.
Your work may not find an audience at once, but it will. And how people react to it may even surprise you.
And yes, most days I do believe I am a romance writer. I love writing about people falling in love and finding their Happy Ever After or Happy For Now. Because sometimes—whether or not there are paper planes—that’s all that matters. ☁