writerly confession in genre.

 Writerly Confession #1: I'm struggling to figure out what type of genre to write in. I think I want to write literary fiction; I like character development way more than plot. But when I grab Poets & Writers magazine from my mailbox each month and start flipping through it, I see names of people featured in articles as if I--a writer reading about other writers--should just naturally know who these obviously very important people are. And because I haven't heard their name ever, does that exclude me from the fancy writer people club? I sort of sense it does, or at the very least puts me off in a corner by myself at all the fancy writer people cocktail mixers.

Writerly confession #2: I dig romance writers. Not the romances they write--just the actual people who write them. I've never been on a romance writer's blog or website where I haven't thought: I'd totally go out to a lot of dinners and coffee dates and wine tastings with this chick.

The thought of writing beach read romance books really appeals to my bank account. It also appeals to inner 9th grade Amy who was totally addicted to Danielle Steele books, not even caring about all the run-on sentences and the over use of the word "and." I was in love with her formulaic plots with just the character names/physical features changed. Danielle Steele taught inner 9th grade Amy all the formulaic finer points and how to fix shallow romantic problems. Inner ninth grade Amy completely aspires to be the next Danielle Steele. I'm sure Danielle and inner ninth grade Amy would have great fun at lunch dates, shopping for Coach bags and other shallow things.

Writerly Confession #3: But I just don't think I could write convincingly about someone's superficial romantic issues or about someone's hot throbbing whatever and not feel I was somehow contributing to the delinquency of a society already on the fast path to a quick downward spiral. No, wait! I could, I totally could. But only if I wrote under a pseudonym. But if I wrote under a pseudonym, maybe me and my cool romance writer chicks wouldn't have friendly wine parties since they wouldn't know my true identity so they could call me up and invite me...and so then, what's the point? I'd have all this money in the bank but no co-workers to spend it on wine and pithy yucks with. AND I've furthered societal downward spirals. I think that's a literary equivalent of selling one's soul to the devil.

Writerly Confession # 4: I feel like I should be writing for children or young adults; that's where my expertise has pretty much been for the last 18 years or so. But I'm not sure I want to write for young adults. People around me say: go write the next Harry Potter series. But I'm not into Harry Potter things. In fact, I'm not into Harry Potter, Justin Bieber, Dungeons & Dragons, Comic Con, Selena Gomez, Nickelodeon shows, and whatever else motivates youngsters these days. I've moved on from those things, and when I interact with young people now, it's as an adult, not an equal and they need to do their homework and respect my authority and follow the rules because I said to, The END. I have a very real suspicion people who write for young adults don't think like this or write to kids like this, and that's why young adults love their books so much. I love kids and despite what I sound like I genuinely enjoy hanging out with them; it's just that I think 95% of their problems are ridiculous. I mean, they don't even pay taxes yet.

Writerly Confession #5: Women's Fiction. I am one. Wouldn't I know how to write to/about/for other women? But I just don't know if I could write women's fiction that wouldn't end up getting shelved with all the Romance Writer/Danielle Steele chick lit books. I just don't think my women's fiction writer skills are sharp enough quite yet.

Then there's Sci Fi, which--I like Science, and kind of consider myself to be a logical, Science-y kind of geek girl in spite of my real bend toward hippie spirituality and reluctance to let go of magical thinking. But (Writerly Confession #6): I'm just  disinterested in writing fiction about it (doesn't it feel like an oxymoron anyway? Science (fact) Fiction (not fact)?). And there's Horror, but I'm squeamish about blood and guts and I'm terrified of ghosts (though I have been known to hunt for them on occasion. It's true: I'm an odd dichotomy of a person).

Man, I'm really in a quandry here, friends. Am I over thinking this? I think I'm over thinking this. I bet I should just write and let other people tell me what genre I'm writing in.

Writerly Confession #7: Wait. Did I...I think I just found my genre! I will call it: The No Genre genre. Or the Let Other People Tell You Your Genre genre. Phew! Thanks for staying with me while I figured that out.

Writerly Confession #8: I really like typing and saying the word "genre." It feels fancy. And French. In fact, if I ever end up at any fancy writer cocktail mixers, I will pepper my talk with this word and the phrase "je ne sais quoi" a lot. (The other really swank French phrase I'm familiar with is voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir, but I think you're only allowed to break that out with Aretha Franklin or people you're very close to and it's considered highly inappropriate at fancy cocktail mixers.)


  1. whatever you decide to write, i will read it. and i know that i will like it. also, i talked to a really smart musician recently who makes music that's kind of outside of the genres. when i asked him to tell me how they categorize his music, he kind of shrugged and said categorization and genre-izing was really just about marketing. basically, you can write whatevery ou feel like writing and then call it whatever you want.

    also, i'm reading diane gabaldon's The Outlander right now. i did not know this was a romance novel. i sort of picked her up on impulse while i was looking for another "G" author whose book was out. i thought she was sci-fi/historical fiction. and for the first few chapters, she kind of was. then all of a sudden: BAM! totally torrid bodice ripping. and it's constant! there is a TON of torrid bodice ripping. like, in every chapter, i find myself getting really disappointed if there isn't a sex scene! my point in telling you this is that i think she's a good writer even though she writes totally torried bodice ripping sexy books.

  2. Well, for starters, I like this musician person you talked to recently. I will use his approach to writing and just basically call what spews out of me on paper whatever I want (I COULD start a genre called "Poop Genre.")

    And for seconders, someone gave me that book for Christmas and it's been sitting on my nightstand waiting to be read since then. Torrid bodice ripping?! That was nowhere on the back cover description. I will start reading immediately.

    And for thirders, I like you little p. You are a good, talented human.


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