I’m a Canadian. I’ve heard all the jokes, so you can feel free to lay those on me and get a hearty laugh in return. We Canadians are a interesting bunch, and I’m the first to admit it.
I have discovered, however, that my Canadian culture has impacted my writing–and not in a publishable way.
We’re too polite.
Now, Canadians express themselves differently. Recently, we’ve had a senate situation (see? There I go again!) which has angered a lot of people. Canadian senators have been stealing tax money. This is a big deal, but the harshest thing you hear coming from politicians is something like this: “If they cannot respect the people’s tax dollars, they should–” Wait for it! “–leave the room.”
Now, if you aren’t Canadian, you probably wonder what’s so harsh about that, but you have to read between the lines. We don’t dump it all out there verbally. Instead, we get all stiff, our faces get a little pale and we say, our voices quivering with emotion, “I’m not happy about this.” (That’s an actual quote from our Prime Minister.)
So when you take this unique Canadian quality and pour it into romance writing, you might think I’d be better suited to writing a Victorian. (And I have written a Victorian under a different name, for the record.) However, I’ve decided to pour myself into contemporary romances, which means I need to learn how to unclench and just SAY IT ALREADY. Which is ironic, because in Canadian terms, I’m already a very vocal personality.
Don’t worry—my editors always catch those scenes and say the same thing every time: “Um, if you’re going to have a big emotional scene, they can’t have a civil conversation.”
And I think, “Civil conversation? Why, my heroine just informed my hero that he isn’t he sort of man she imagines marrying.” Dun, dun, DUN! You see, in Canada, that was a break up. Everywhere else, the hero is frowning and thinking, “What’s she getting at?”
So I rewrite it, and my editors say, “That’s more like it!” and the book is published.
Remember that the next time a Canadian apologizes to you when you trample on their toes. Most of the time, they probably are terribly sorry for having gotten under your foot, but if they say it with a pointed look and go a tiny bit pale, there might be subtext there…