Saturday, December 8, 2012

Saturday So What: Genre Snob

The dreaded moment... after you tell someone you're a writer and they ask you, "What do you write?" GULP

I'm completely guilty of being embarrassed or at a loss for words about half the time. First of all, I don't really have just one genre. I've written three books, and all three are different. Narrative Non-fiction, adult cozy mystery, and YA. So I usually stumble trying to explain that I'm not a genre schizophrenic, I just have varied interests.

But it goes beyond that. Part of me is a little ashamed that I'm not writing the next great American novel. I'm GASP writing mass market commercial stuff. I feel like that somehow makes me less of a writer, like I'm not as smart, or my stuff is lower quality. I'm sure some of it's in my head, heck, probably most of it. But have you ever noticed that there is a sort of pecking order of writers? Genre snobbery if you will.

At the top of the food chain, you have the literary writers. The purists.
Next you have contemporary fiction.
After that, it's all about the genres looking down on each other.
The horror guys are psychos, but thank goodness they don't write trite cozy mysteries with cats.
Suspense writers may be delusional and wish they were spies, but they're glad they don't write squeeky clean romance.
Sci fi folk are nerds, but they snicker at the sparkly ab vamp teens.
And people that write erotica are so ashamed of themselves, they never publish under their real name.

 If enjoyment is equal to quality, than some classics are the most poorly written things on the planet. I fully admit to relishing a grocery store urban fantasy way more than Mice and Men.

Well, I think I need to stop beating myself up. I'm going to be proud of my quirky, conversational style. So what if I can't write "literature", I'll make you have fun and forget about your life for a few hours.

So next time someone asks you what you write, be proud of what you are as opposed to being ashamed of what you're not.

Do you feel like people prejudge your writing as less than stellar before they even read it, just because you write LDS fiction? Tell me about it. Get it out, like MWA - Mormon Writer's Anonymous.


  1. When asked what I write my response is, "Whatever strikes my fancy at the moment!" Then I list non-fiction, fantasy, and lots of blog posts are just some things I write. I've finally gotten over the angst and shame and just state it loud and proud!!

    1. Good for you Nikki. You are my hero. You do it all, Super MMW

  2. If you are talking to a non-writer, they seem to pretty much look down on anything. Partly because they don't understand genre nuances the same way (What is middle grade urban fantasy???) but partly because they don't understand how hard it is to write ANYTHING. Writing fantasy is hard. Writing "fluff" romances is hard. Writing is hard, period. But people think it is as easy as reading (and the glut of self published novels over the last couple years proves that***)

    So. I have an LDS romance on submission right now. I am writing high fantasy for the national market. And nobody thinks either is worthy of even an eyebrow raise. It's always, "Oh. Like Charly?" or "Like... Unicorns?"

    ***i want to be clear: there are plenty of very well done self-published novels. There is also a lot of thrown-together junk. The thrown-together junk is the proof that many people think writing is easy. The well-written, professionally edited, carefully marketed self-published novel is worthy of its place on your kindle or bookshelf. And they are not what I am referring to in my earlier, glib comment.

    1. LOL I know exactly what you are talking about. Though my pop snorted out my nose at the unicorn comment

  3. Funny how most writers making less than 6 figures have such insecurities about how others view them and about their writing. We don't want to describe what we do, we just want you to love it.
    I find it difficult to describe inspriational fiction/non-fiction with those three little letters in it to those who are not LDS. I had one lady hug me and declare, "Oh, you're a Christian writer!" I answered affirmatively but I'm sure it's not what she had in mind.

  4. I think I freeze sometimes and other times I'm happy to explain my range of genres because people's eyes get big and they say "you write all of those at once?" And then you act like it's no big deal, even though writing is actually harder than it looks (as you said.) But I agree that other times I freeze because we are throwing our passion in front of people and run the risk of them looking down on it or judging it. And we just want to snatch it safely back and say "why don't you try doing it and then you can judge!"

    1. It's tough to put yourself out there, especially to anyone who thinks all it takes is to type for a few days and voila bestseller.



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