Why do I write romance? Why does anyone write genre fiction? I have a theory, the Theory of Accelerated Karma.
The Bible says, “As you sow, so shall you reap.”
The Chinese say, “Plant squash, harvest squash; plant beans, harvest beans.”
An anonymous sage once said, “Watch your thoughts, for they become words.Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits.Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
All pretty darn good definitions of karma, which is but action and reaction, cause and effect.
God moves in mysterious ways. And so does karma. It’s all a question of timing. The eastern religions take a longer view of things, through multiple lives and cycles of rebirths and re-deaths. See the corrupt fat cat who goes to his grave feared and respected? Don’t worry. In his next life he would be a pincushion. Okay, okay, not a pin cushion, a garden slug. Or that hen in Chicken Run who becomes dinner.
Karma has no hurry. It is ineluctable, but not always timely. Whirling about in our brief, chaotic lives, looking at the mess that surrounds us—that sometimes is us—it’s tempting to throw in the towel and say, I give up, the literary fiction writers have it right, we all live in quiet desperation all the time, I never writ, nor no man ever loved, and certainly no woman ever achieved happiness.
And then there are us dauntless genre writers. We say, bollocks. We know quiet desperation—what writer doesn’t?—but we also know it’s not all there is to life. We know happiness is possible–heck, better than that, doable. We know Justice not only exists, but is inevitable.
Genre fiction is karma on a compressed time frame. In genre fiction, when people make the hard choices, when they sacrifice what’s easy for what’s right, their karma work out all its kinks by the end of 400 pages. It means that when Darth Vader breaks with Darth Sidious and saves Luke, the evil galactic empire is rent asunder and Anakin Skywalker redeemed. It means that Pinocchio gets to be a real boy. And it means that as Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy rise above their pride and prejudice, we close the book with an unshakable belief that they would live a happy life together.
It is not happy endings that we deliver, but a fresh slate, an affirmation of the fundamental balance of the world. We might not see it played out before us, and certainly it’s not often portrayed in the news, but we feel it in our bones, the turning wheel of karma, the retribution and reward just around the corner.
And we write what we know to be true. And we accelerate it.