Last weekend, I wrote “The End” to the first draft of a historical romance I’ve been writing. No feelings of “postpartum depression” yet, because I know there’s far more to do before this book is ready for the reading public. Months of polishing and revision lie ahead. That’s the toughest and most essential work of writing, anyway, and some would say the writing hasn’t really begun until the revision phase.

I’ve been reflecting on a conversation with another writer at a conference earlier this year, where I mentioned that I had already envisioned a couple of sequels to this story. “How’s that possible?” he asked. “Every romance says, ‘They lived happily ever after. The End.’ There is no sequel to a good romance.”

I suspect the fellow has never been married. If he had, he wouldn’t be asking such a question.

There’s a world of hurt in ‘happily ever after.’ A world of misunderstanding, misogyny, and missed opportunities. Not to mention forgiveness, reconciliation, and maturation. I would argue that’s the true world of romance.

So ‘The End’ of a romance novel may mark the end of initial courtship, but in real life it had better not be the end of courtship…or love…or romance. Otherwise the story’s been cut short.