Monday, April 5, 2010

I Write Genre Fiction

I am not William Faulkner. I am not Earnest Hemmingway. I am not George Eliot or Nathanial Hawthorne or John Updike. I am not even Tolkien. My work is not groundbreaking or profound or particularly original. I write fantasy adventures novels.
For some reason this is a hard concept to get across in casual conversation. When I tell people I've been working on writing a book (well more than one really) I always get a reaction like I'm especially clever or deep and I feel like I'm misrepresenting myself.
It also doesn't help that my current novel project is hard to sum up into a sentence. (OH how I am dreading summarizing it into a query) The best I can come up with is "There is this three way war and it follows the lives of six characters who want to be friends with their political enemies" which sounds like its some kind of WAR AND PEACE which it is not.
Its not that pieces of my personal philosophy don't find their way into my stories or that I don't dig as deeply as I can into the characters and cultures I use but I don't have any great concept to get across to the the world. I don't feel I have to. I love stories. I love experiencing things through my imagination and getting into the heads of other people. I love the world of 'What if'. I won't pretend my manuscripts can do anything more than entertain. They are stories. Nothing less, but nothing more.
Still, the words 'novelist' and 'book' and 'manuscript' have an unaccountably impressive ring to people who don't write. Is there a way I can convince them that genre fiction (at least what I write. I do not mean to malign anyone else's writing)is not really such a grand thing?

1 comment:

  1. A-ha! Here you are :)

    I don't think there's anything wrong, per se, with genre fiction. Genres are just where books live in a bookstore. Everything else is up to the author.

    As far as the reaction you're getting, I get that too, and I don't even tell people what kind of fiction I write. I think it's more a generic reaction people give when you say you're writing a book-- it seems to boil down to, "She must be really smart to write a book, I could never do that," or "I was going to write a book once."

    And, you are clever and deep. So there's that. :) I find that "great concepts" are more a construct of high school and college English teachers than the authors. Most writers feel the same way-- they write for the story, not a message. I know I do.