Workin' On It Wednesday #26 - On Genre

Over at the Bookends blog, Jessica has a post about writers being true to themselves and being proud of what they write. I know people who are embarrassed to write what they write--romances or memoir or YA or whatever--but none of those people are actually published, I suppose because someone who is embarrassed to admit what they write is going to be going out there and seeking publication.*

But I guess I'm surprised that it's an issue. I shouldn't be--I was an English major and I'm familiar with the concept of the anxiety of influence**--but the idea that a modern writer would be worried about not being "literary" or not writing a certain genre is...odd to me. I write YA. That's what I do. I don't feel like I should be writing literary fiction, or romance, or mysteries or something.*** And even if I did feel like YA wasn't "worth it" (whatever that means), I don't know that I'd be any good at writing anything else.****

Why would a writer do that? I wonder if it's a whole Groucho Marx phenomenon--these writers don't want to be a part of any genre that would have them as a member. Some people I know (not writers, but others) are of the opinion that if they can do something, then it must not be that hard to do.

O_o

My mind boggles. If you can do something, that means it's easy? Give yourself a little more credit. People may slag on romance writers*****, but I have tried to write a straight on romance novel and I can tell you, that sh#t is hard. To do it right (which I haven't), to make your heroine compelling and your hero dynamic, to make the romantic conflict real, and to actually fit a plot in there, too? Jesus.

I suppose this whole post can be boiled down to one thing: give yourself a little credit.

~~~

* I could be wrong about this, of course, but the road to publication is fraught with rejection and heartbreak, and if you aren't confident in what you write, I don't know how you'd live on that road.

**for those of you who aren't English majors, the anxiety of influence is a theory that writers have trouble creating great work because of the undue influence of their literary ancestors. There's a lot more to it than that, of course, but that's the basic idea.

***this isn't to say that I don't have bouts of professional jealousy, because I do. I have certainly read books that I thought "f***, I wish I would have written that!" I've certainly hated books that were the literary equivalent of the popular homecoming queen from high school, even as I wanted to have written them. I don't know that there's anything wrong with that.

**** I certainly wouldn't be right away...I've been working at the YA for a while now. To get "up to speed" on a totally new genre would take some work.

***** FOR EXAMPLE.

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