Author of Romance

March 17, 2023

Column #4: Diary of a Twenty-Something

This past month, we celebrated Valentine’s Day. Every year on the days leading up to the holiday, I found myself baking heart-shaped cookies, wearing a red sweater, and writing a love note.

This year is the first year I’ve worked a full-time job, which means that after work, I still must shower and eat even though I just want to plop onto the sofa in my sweatpants (I know some of you are thinking, “How cute! She’s getting a taste of the world!” Let me put it this way: I dealt with way more heartache, empty checking accounts, and real-life issues before I had an office, phone calls to make, and no time to shower).

My confession is this: I celebrated Valentine’s Day this week, and though the holiday kind of snuck up on me, I was able to love on the people who mean the most to me (and I was wearing leggings and a sweatshirt. No red sweaters here).

Dear diary: I have to get something off my chest.

I prefer a Valentine’s Day playing pickleball with my friends and then being treated to tacos and guac afterward. See, I’m an author of romance. I know all the ins and outs of it, all the ideals to a candle-lit dinner or a spontaneous picnic on the beach. Nice dresses. Expensive meals. I’ve written it, and I’ve done the happy ending and the sad ending. And because I’m an author of romance, I know the most realistic romance there is.

If you can sit across from your favorite person over a tray of salsa and a strawberry margarita in your dirty athletic wear, you know you’re loved. If you can watch a sitcom until you fall asleep on the sofa with your feet in his lap, you know you’re loved. If you’re content and happy meanwhile, then it’s Valentine’s Day every day. Then you’re at the peak of romance. Then you’re past needing to dress up to feel beautiful.

My dearest diary, I remember several Februarys ago when I interviewed the mayor of my small town for a Valentine’s feature in a local magazine. He took me to breakfast and shared his love story with me. The story he described was decorated with roses and hand-written love letters, black ink, cursive, and spending the rest of his life with the woman he loves most in the world. The peak of romance: when you smile just speaking your wife’s name. When he’s by her side every moment. When he has her portrait hanging in their house.

Valentine’s Day for that kind of love becomes only a day to recognize that those small things are what matter.

P.S. I love you, dearest readers.


M.M. Cochran is the author of YA novel Between the Ocean and the Stars and has an educational background in English and creative writing. She has worked in the journalism industry, as well as the agenting and publishing industry, and she is currently a news reporter for The Greer Citizen. M.M. can be found collecting coffee mugs, slipping into an oversized sweater, and hanging out with her standard poodle. Her debut novel, Between the Ocean and the Stars, can be found online at or To keep up with her writing journey, follow her on Instagram @m.m.cochran_writer.

Featured image by Budgeron Bach on Pexels