My comment on this post on Romancing the Blog:
Romance gets knocked. It just does. I'm not sure that's going to end soon. Just about any creative work which is produced in high numbers is going to be perceived the younger step-sister to the "real art" of that genre. Illustration is not considered to be as "artful" as portraiture. Same with Commercial Art vs. Fine Art.
We all know that deep down. And we all know that N. C. Wyeth was a tremendously talented artist AND he was an illustrator. Obviously there are examples of greatness and mediocrity on both ends of the same spectrum, whatever the art form.
However, I think taking the argument "to the streets" so to speak is going to be quixotic enterprise until the gushing and "I must support my friend every time someone says something bad about her work" mentality stops. The circle the wagons thing is truly disruptive to any sort of conversation about our genre or about the books themselves.
I appreciate your offer, Diana, to champion the cause of blogging, but the truth is that the attacks on bloggers has already happened in the larger media, and for the most part ebbs and flows and remains a mild undercurrent. For the most part bloggers don't really care that much. If there's something I want to talk about, with some exceptions, I just write it anyway. People are welcome to comment or not to as they see fit.
Discourse at some point gets hopped up with emotions, but emotions seem to run very high in both the Sci-fi and Romance community. It gets tiring, honestly.
I agree that a lot of the times that Harlequin comes up in conversation, the "original poster" really has no idea what they are talkng about, and is using Harlequin as a short-hand lingo for formulaic, awful, hastily churned-out dreck. And that's not fair to the larger romance writing community.
But come on. You really think you're going to change the minds of the larger reading public. Really?
Really, REALLY, really?
I don't see it happening until there's a whole lot less emotion and a whole lot more honest discussion about what works and what doesn't. I sepnd a lot of time online talking about horses. Y'all wouldn't believe the fights I've seen over at Arabian Horse breeding messageboards over what bloodline represents the "true Arabian". People insult each other, call their horses names, threaten lawsuits, etc. And it's all over whether my horse is "purer" than your horse. Yee gods. It's a horse. Enjoy it.
But people get so caught up in trying to make everybody else experience the world exactly the same way, that eventually it all dissolves into a wrestling match.
Until the Romance publishers slow down their publishing to focus on a fewer number of "truly great" books (which no one really wants them to do within the community), then a while lot of chaff is likely to go out there. That's OK. I like a lot of the chaff. But I reserve the right to call it fluff. (Mmm. Marshmallows.) The larger literary community is going to keep right on denigrating the entire genre because all they can see is the chaff. They just are.
In the meantime, I don't really care what they all say "out there." I'm trying to find a great Historical set somewhere interesting with some great dialogue and an intriguing interpersonal conflict between the two main characters.