Monday, March 30, 2009

Some thoughts on genre

Nina Pierce wrote a pretty interesting blog about genre over in romance-land and how often, you switch back and forth in order to, ahem, sell your work.

That's the point, isn't it?

It reminds me of a two-year battle I engaged in throughout my tenure in grad school earning my MFA in creative writing. (What a trip that was.)

Did you know there's a secret war in MFA programs worldwide between two embittered factions? Those on the literary side are brilliant, pained and usually unsold writers of wonderful work.

Across the battlefield stand the genre writers, who tend to write a little differently, and a little more like what you'd find in those paperback novels. You know, those little things that always sell? Amazing, right?

In one of my fiction workshops I got harpooned for writing a scene that was obviously NOT from the literary set. I was historical fiction. It had a lord. A lady. It was good. My peers really liked the idea I was working with.

My instructor? Notsomuch. He humiliated me and basically stated that in this program, we work on literary fiction. Go to one of those online programs if you insist on creating genre trash.

Ohmilord, how I hated that man. I was nine months pregnant at the point, my last semester or so of grad school and I daydreamed about bashing his head onto the dry erase board. About drilling my dull pencil into his carotid artery. I mean, seriously, if there was ever a turning point where I started looking at both romance AND horror fiction, that had to be it. (Thanks, douche! Now I have two horizons to aim for. How you like them apples?)

(Ok. That's a lie. Blame "Uncle Stevie" for my fascination with horror fiction. I snuck Pet Cemetary into my room when I was 11 and haven't really turned back. Turn sideways toward romance and such now and then, but never back.)

So, anyway, genre. Right. Labels tend to stimy some folks. Me? I say write what you want and sell where it's wanted. Maybe someday I'll be important enough to have a crisis of conscience about what genre I really belong to, but for now, I pay dem bills and chase those kiddos. I'll stick to the common sense mantra of "write what you know, especially if it sells." Take that Mr. MFA Program-Stick-Up-Your-Arse man.

(P.S.: Aforementioned teacher wrote one novel at the time of his smarmy remark...a real piece of shite about an incestual Kentucky family with serious daddy issues. And he hasn't done much sense. Two words: ha and ha.

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