Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Genre Woes

A bit late, but -whew!- still made it! I promise to stop by to read some of the other inspiring posts :). If you're not a member of the IWSG, go visit Ninja Captain Alex. He'll show you what to do!

What are my current writerly insecurities? Well, to be honest, I am always second guessing what I write. Not the stories themselves, but the general direction all my stories tend to go. The basic genre in which I write. Imagine if you will, you're at a party. Someone comes up to you - someone you've met before but don't really know well- and they ask, "So, how have you been?" "Good," you answer. "Staying busy, working, writing, the usual." "Oh?" Their left eyebrow goes up. "What do you write?"

I tend to answer this question with a hem and a haw and a look-anywhere-but-at-the-asker expression.

"Oh, I -ah- I write speculative fiction."

"Oh. What's that?"

"Um-ah...horror. I write horror."

There are three reactions. First, I get the, "Oh. Nice. Ah, excuse me." reaction. Then there's the, "Why?" which I actually love because you can scare them further. And every now and then you get, "Cool!" but nothing more.

My insecurity in this department stems from the fact that I have always cared waaaay too much of what people think of me. And I hate explaining myself to anyone. I don't think everyone needs an explanation but everyone usually demands one. Ugh. How do I get around this?

For starters, stop caring so much what people think. Easier said than done, but I have made tremendous progress over the past few years. I can surround myself with like-minded individuals which sounds great but is also easier said than done where I live. The best piece of advice I can give myself (and anyone else struggling with the genre woes) is this:

Write what you must, do it every day, become the best you can at it, and submit, submit, submit!

Getting a short story published or the coveted book contract may not cause people to like what you do any more or less. However, it does lend a bit more credibility TO YOURSELF. Even if you submit a short story to the local paper for no financial compensation, you are a published writer and no one can take that away from you.

Don't give up. Cliche, I know, but true. Just keep writing what's in your heart to write and you will be a success...

...whether anyone else likes it or not!

TELL ME: What do you enjoy writing? Have you ever experienced genre prejudice? Have you ever tried writing in a totally different genre than what you normally write in? Do you honestly NOT care what people think and if so, HOW did you get to that place in your life?!?


  1. I knew going in that science fiction wasn't a popular genre, and at the time I started writing my first book, everything I read said it was dead. I did it anyway. Glad I did!
    You write what YOU enjoy writing, Jen.

  2. As a fellow writer of 'speculative fiction' and horror-ish things, I totally connected with you on this. Very hard to explain sometimes.

    I'm also writing New Adult fiction, and there's definitely a bit of 'category prejudice' there. But I believe in it completely (college aged people read, and they need stories written for them).

    I suppose at my core, I truly don't care what anyone else thinks, but there are a lot of layers going down to that core that can certainly get ruffled. :-)

    Really glad you found my blog today, and very nice to 'meet' you too.

  3. I'm in a speculative fiction writer's group but I'm so insecure that I have only submitted two chapters for critique. I submitted it for Nano Wrimo last year and managed to write an ending but this caused some plot changes that have screwed with my head. Now I'm confused and angry at myself for being such a wimp about getting it done! It's a post-apocalypse story and there seem to be many of those!

  4. What a coincidence--I posted about genre for the IWSG, too. :)

    I like writing speculative fiction the most. I don't talk to many people about my writing, so I don't run into genre prejudice frequently--though people do have a lot of preconceived notions about Science Fiction, my favorite genre. I was recently telling someone about Isaac Asimov's work and they asked "So, like Star Wars?"

  5. Jen,

    Nice post...honest, and something we all go through. Questions we don't want to answer for lack of their understanding.

    I call myself YA and don't break it down any further. YA Adventure, if anything. I chose that, because after writing story after story, it's what I wrote most. BUT...I never limit myself like that when going in. If I have subject material that would be an excellent Literary work, then that's where I take it.

    I've gotten past the point of caring what people think - which took me a lifetime. How? Finally realizing that they aren't thinking of me at all! So I write unafraid!

    Great meeting you!

  6. I think as a society, we've been taught to care what others think (make-up, business suits, actually wearing clothes), so I understand wholeheartedly that feeling of not wanting others to judge. Sometimes, I wish I could throw it all away and not care at all (well, maybe I'll keep the clothes on).

  7. smiles...i actually enjoy writing psuedo is freeing for me...and because it is so much different than what i usually write on my website...ha...i have another place i post it and for the longest time no one knew it was they do but many dont even know about it....been a while since i posted there too...i still write it but its behind the scenes...

    it took me a bit to get over the fact i might offend people or that people may not like what i write...but once i did i found it really freeing...

  8. I think I've got it worse. When someone asks me what I write, I usually have to say "humor." Which is not a funny answer. And then there's sort of a compulsion to be funny afterwards. If you write horror, you can just say booga booga booga. Right?

  9. Ugh, I hate getting the question. I always make a joke about how I write YA but without any vampires. That joke's getting pretty old. :)

  10. Alex: What do "they" know about writing anyway? At the end of the day, what matters is that YOU are happy with what you've written. Thanks :)

    E.J.: Thanks for stopping by! I love the idea of New Adult fiction. You're right: there's a gap there that needs to be filled. I'm sure there aren't many who know what that is. Very glad to meet you!

    Ms.Sparrow: So glad you joined me over here and super glad to know you belong to a speculative fiction group! That's wonderful! Let your writing go free! You'll be very glad you did :)

    Golden: How serendipitous! I shall be by today to read your ponderings. Don't you love it when people always think that sci-fi is just "like" something else? Stereotyping, I suppose, is human nature, but it does get rather dull to think that everyone things you're trying to be the next Lucas, or Rowling, or King.

    M.L.: Thank you! And thank you for stopping by. I like what you said: they aren't thinking of me at all. You're right! People are always thinking of what they like and what they would want to read. When you don't fall into that category, they immediately dismiss you. Great meeting you too!

    Miranda: Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the laugh about "actually wearing clothes!" Yes, I would love to be able to just throw all the voices of others away and just write, whole-heartedly. Maybe, soon, I'll get there!

    Brian: Great to know you write horror! How intriguing. It's always fun to mix it up a bit. I have plans for a story that's very southern, very humorous, and very not horror at all and I sometimes wonder where it fits in. But, as long as I'm true to who I am as a writer, it will work.

    Murr: Thanks for stopping by. Ha! I'll try that next time someone asks. If nothing else, it will get me some strange looks. Nice to meet you!

    Meredith: I understand. Imagine saying, "Horror" and people automatically think you write about chainsaw massacres and inbred rapists. Seriously. It gets old explaining to people what horror really is all about. So I don't anymore. I just let 'em wonder :)

  11. Great post! I totally embrace my wackiness. When people what to know what I write, I tell them I write about spaceships, unicorns, and everything in between. :) If people think I'm cooky, I just roll with it. Most writers are a little cooky anyway, with all these stories and characters running around in our brains!

  12. Well, I write a lot of MG.
    So bring it on.
    If you don't like what I write, then you are not part of my audience, and that's fine! There's something out there for everyone, and if people are interested in any kinds of books, that's good for all us writerly types.

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  14. Hi Camille: thanks for stopping by and visiting. Yes, embracing one's wackiness is a wonderful way to live. I love your enthusiasm for being seen differently. We writers are odd compared to most people. As soon as we all learn to embrace our oddities, I believe we'll have less insecurities.

    Hi Lily: Thanks for stopping by! I agree. If someone doesn't like what we write, we're not for them and there's nothing wrong with that. We all have an audience...we just have to find it!


Well, hello! I'm so glad you made it. Come inside and sit by the hearth. I'll take your coat and hat. The kettle is singing and there's cake and candles and good conversation. Settle in and make yourself at home. Don't mind the wolfhounds; they're friendly if you give them a bit of lemon curd.