Tuesday, 10 August 2010

What Genre Am I In, Again?

First off - Why are you here? Go to WriteOnCon and participate - I'll wait!
Okay, is it later now?
(I'm writing this because the site is currently dealing with a 403 error - I hope it clears up soon - there's AWESOME stuff on there so far.)

WriteOnCon is focused toward YA writers, but a lot of their content will be applicable to writers of any genre, and that's why I'm attending. Because (surprise!) I'm not a YA writer. I mean, one of my side WIPs is YA, but it's not my most darling piece of work, if you understand. It's a project I write in when I'm bored, and I'll undoubtedly grow to love it, but... it's not time for it yet.

ANYWHO, I was going somewhere with this...

Oh yes!

I don't know about you all, but I write mostly fantasy. It's the geek in me. And yet, I hesitate to call myself a 'fantasy author'. Why? Well....

"The world wants to shove us into what it considers the appropriate pigeon-hole. I do not like to be labelled as a 'Christian Children's writer,' [fantasy writer] because... if I am so labelled then the implication is that I am to be read only by children, and Christian children at that. ... But I'm a writer. That's enough of a definition. ...But I don't want to be shut in, labelled, the key turned, so that I am not able to grow and develop...
"It seems that more than ever the compulsion today is to identify, to reduce someone to what is on the label. To identify is to control, to limit. To love is to call by name... but we forget names, and turn to labels."
- Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water

(I love that book)

I want to be a writer. Not a fantasy writer.

Genres are important, I know, as an organization tool as well as many other things. But genres should be used to organize books, not authors.

(Unless, of course, the author wants to be known for writing in a certain genre. I can understand why, if you're a mystery writer and want to be known only as such to help build a solid platform, or a variety of other reasons. I guess the point I'm getting at here is choice. I choose not to be labelled.)

Authors, what do you think? Do you refer to yourself as a 'fill-in-the-blank' writer? Does a genre title comfort you or limit you?

Readers: Is it a turn-off when your favorite authors write in other genres?

This could just be me. I don't want to always have to write fantasy, but I do always want to be allowed to write - and write whatever genre the story appears to me in. Stephen King writes many genres besides horror, C.S. Lewis wrote everything from children's books to philosophy, Lewis Carroll wrote math puzzles.

Food for thought, I guess. :)



Kathryn said...

Well, when I find an author whose works I typically enjoy, I'll continue to buy their work because I know their "brand". I know what they like to write about, how they like to write it, and that I like reading it. So I know what to expect. But to see a writer I like choose a different genre... that's intriguing, not a turn-off! It's more of a "Let's see how they tackle this world!" feeling.

I also love Madeleine L'Engle. "Walking on Water" changed my (writing) life. I agree with her. If we limit ourselves, then we limit our gifts. No good.

Great post!

Also, do you have to sign up for the WriteOnCon thing or can we just follow the blog? I wanted to join but like you, I don't write YA (I just love reading it), but if you're going to do it, then so am I! :)

Lisa said...

I LOVE THIS POST. I am a writer. Right now, I'm writing YA. BUT one day I hope to write MG and Adult and Mystery and Screenplays...You are so right. Books might need that label. An author DOES NOT. I love when authors write different things. I love that John Grisham tried short stories and a children's book. Why not? Why do we limit ourselves? I love that Stephanie Myer wrote an Adult Book (The Host is adult, right?). As writers, we like to stretch. We shouldn't be labeled!

Kay Richardson said...

I write solely in the erotic animal story genre. I find it fulfilling.

Missed Periods said...

I'm with you. Genres are important, but sometimes it feels too limiting.

Joanne Brothwell said...

Hi Bethany,
I love this picture - gives me a sense of being stuck in a bubble that has turned into a prison.

I don't think writers should feel compelled to stick to one genre. I write what I want, which happens to usually be dark. But I know a day will come where that will bore me, and I'll venture into uncharted territory!

Talli Roland said...

Oh, genres! This is something I've been struggling with. Apparently chick lit is dead so I'm supposed to write 'rom-coms' or 'light women's fiction'. I'm just going to say I write fun books to read (hopefully!).

Talli Roland said...

Oh, genres! This is something I've been struggling with. Apparently chick lit is dead so I'm supposed to write 'rom-coms' or 'light women's fiction'. I'm just going to say I write fun books to read (hopefully!).

Jen said...

You said it best, the genre should only represent where to stick the books not the author. I love the mixture, I never know what I feel like writing so I like to keep my options open!

WriteOnCon rocked!!!

Don't know if you've signed up for my upcoming blogfest but feel free to stop by and check it out!

FantasticFiction said...

genres have never been a hard thing for me..But hey I have to disagree ther, fantasy is not for geeks its for cool peeps with an imagination :)