Despite all assurances to the contrary, my teenager really does have “it” all figured out. She really, really knows what kind of writer she is. She eats, sleeps, reads, and writes her genre. Aside from my daily struggles to help her figure out responsibilities, prioritization, financial strategies, and general cleanliness, I must hand it to her (‘it’ meaning this one thing):
She has figured out one of the biggest so-called “keys” to succeeding in writing: being a fan of the kinds of things that you want to write. I, on the other hand, am not so fortunate.
I am a non-fiction reader by day, bodice-ripper fan by night (er, I mean, historical romance). I will occasionally crack open a general historical fiction if it’s well researched enough to enhance my understanding of some period of time or event; however, those sorts of reads are rare for me. Due to my non-fiction-oriented brain, I struggle to keep interest in fantasy worlds which exist solely to support a plot. Also, having had enough struggle in my own life, I have little interest in fictional stories dealing with themes I do not wish to dig up from my past.
[I don’t mean anything terrible by that reference. I just mean that time has healed me, and I’ve moved on.]
I suppose I have exceptions, such as for ‘classics’, but they are just that. Exceptions. As a writer, however, I mostly want to create a storybook world which comprises fictional plots indiscreetly demonstrating my world view. In other words, I want to create stories which exist in a world that accepts the way I see life.
If I had to pick a writer whose work I have read that does this, it would be Ayn Rand. If there was any question of whether her novels were meant to convey her political beliefs, then surely one missed her and Leonard Peikoff’s umpteen other books on her philosophy of objectivism. I don’t have any political motivations to my plots, nor would I ever dream of creating a structured philosophy to support them, but I think the reference is useful as to what I’m after overall.
So that brings me back to the question: What kind of writer am I?
Looking to the list provided by Wikipedia, it doesn’t seem that I have too many choices to sift through as only twelve overall genres are listed. Except that’s only where the list begins. From there, another 25 sub-categories of fiction are listed. Or rather, 25 common sub-categories. The sub-genres and cross-genres are just mind-boggling.
Okay, maybe not “mind-boggling”, but very niche-y at the least.
I think I have some mix of alternative universe with a touch of steampunk simply because of my airships and costuming. I would say “magical realism”, but after further research, it seems not. Another frustration! Genres sounding like one thing but meaning something else.
Further, I can’t just jump on the bandwagon of fantasy fiction because I’m very non-fiction, science-bound(ish), meaning there are rules as to what I will allow to be possible in my worlds. In the simplest terms, I follow Star Trek’s lead on my fantasy elements: there must be some sort of scientific foundation for what is possible in the worlds I create.
For an overall example of what I mean, the novel I’ve been working on for years now involves a kingdom suffering from a curse. Since the curse doesn’t serve any sort of messaging or morale purpose, it simply exists to create a foundation of conflict in my book and thus, it must have a science-based existence.
I’m sure there are authors out there with similar purposes in their writing, but my interests haven’t allowed me to find them. Does Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy count? Didn’t think so.
Perhaps it won’t matter in the end. I worry about letting others define me, but perhaps in this instance it would be best to wait and see. After all, if I want to figure out who I am as a writer, I should probably…you know…finish writing something.
Feel free to leave me your thoughts about how you defined your own writing (or not). I’d love to hear them.
Talk to you soon!