Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Caught Between Worlds

I'm trapped and really wish I could ditch the feeling.

Part of it's the fact that I write blended genres. I'm one of those people who will read just about anything. I literally have just about anything on my shelves. From Playboy to the Holy Bible. From the Uncanny X-Men to The Complete Works of Shakespeare.

Writers from ages past. Homer. Sun Tzu. The Brothers Grimm. Anais Nin.

Writers from today. Robert Heinlein. Scott Turow. Neil Gaiman. Nora Roberts.

They all influence me. Yet, if I don't write within other people's proscribed rules then there's something wrong with me.

Let me correct that. If I don't write within other writers' proscribed rules...

A few years ago, I wrote an urban fantasy novel with bits of romance, adventure and horror. When I sent it to my critique group at the time, I said, "This is urban fantasy."

The first critique I got back started with, "This isn't a romance. This is an urban fantasy."


Yeah, I get that I met y'all through Romance Writers of America. That doesn't mean I have to write ONLY contemporary romance between an unattached male and an unattached female twenty-four/seven!

Yet, if I do write within the proscribed rules, my prose can be correctly compared to watching paint dry.

Then other days, I'm pretty sure it's not me. It's them. The other writers. The ones who (heaven-forbid!) dont' read outside their proscribed narrow circle of what's correct.

So what's a writer like me to do?

Fuck all the other writers! (Not literaly, folks.) The only ones that matter in this equation are the readers. As long as my readers are happy, I'm happy. And when I'm happy, I don't feel quite so stuck anymore.


  1. Or at least, fuck that particular critique group. [wry smile] Sounds like some folks have spent too much time reading/writing category romances, where every book is expected to check off a specific list of characteristics to fit in with its group.

    I write multiple genres too. I'm lucky enough that m/m has particularly flexible genre walls, but I write some things that are completely different and will have to be marketed separately. And sometimes I find myself scanning through Duotrope's search results, clicking through to read a market's description, thinking, "Not quite this, I wonder if they'd stretch X to cover my setting, which definition of Y do they use...?" because there's so much variation. Forget the other writers -- trying to figure out the markets is hard enough. [laugh/flail]

    I have some stories I'm getting ready to indie pub and figuring out what category/genre/subgenre/keywords to use for those doesn't seem to be any easier. I'm all about truth in advertising, because it doesn't do me any good in the long term to convince a reader to buy and read one of my books if they're going to dislike it and never buy anything from me ever again. Proper labelling is important, but it's not always easy because of how people use the terms.

    Frex., "urban fantasy" used to mean Charles de Lint and Mercedes Lackey, with trolls and giants and elves in city parks and at modern highway crossroads. Now it means some chick with leather pants, a tattoo and a dagger being all harshly sexy while staking vampires or whatever. And modern urban fantasy seems to be more a subgenre (or at least a cousin) of romance rather than of fantasy. The tone between the older UF books and the newer ones is completely different, so what do you do? How do you describe things, if you write the old style UF? [headdesk]

    Good thing we're creative, right? :)


  2. I laughed at the facepalm. That's pretty good and I got a great image.

    Good for you for what you are writing. RWA is known for their narrow thinking, I hate to say.

  3. Thanks for the support, Angie and Ivy!

    There's a lot of pluses to RWA--they have excellent craft classes. But as far as the business side of writing goes, their programs and ideology are stuck in the 1950's. I let my membership lapse, and I'm really questioning whether or not to rejoin.

    And yeah, Angie, I understand the frustration with the "men with boobs" and "emo vampire" direction of UF. Ironically, I think the movie WARM BODIES might actually help my sales since it's closer to what I write (except I'm quite as mushy).