Genre – the bane of my writing life

Hello to everyone finally officially in Spring from me in Autumn / Fall.¬† To combat the reverse envy I’m now sensing, at least Melbourne has a long weekend for Labour Day. ūüôā

Ruth Snyder's blog hop

This fortnight’s post for Ruth Snyder’s Blog Hop is “My Favo(u)rite Genre”.¬† Again, I fail miserably to fit into mainstream thinking on this topic!¬† Oh, I absolutely understand the need for genre classification, especially now that e-books are flying across our e-noses from all sides, but for someone who’s endeavouring to draw readers towards a topic to which they may not have previously been exposed, I constantly bump up against the walls.¬† And¬†they’re not padded…

We live in a world of drop-down lists, check boxes and radio buttons, for which I’m partly to blame, since¬†I’ve been involved in many such abominable creations.¬† These nifty, high-tech methods of filtering and sorting clearly enable us to group the abundance of¬†treasure into manageable slices of information.¬† The more we depend on websites to make our selection of reading material, the greater the need for some speedy classification mechanism.¬† Genre¬†in the Internet age has found renewed purpose.

I also understand that genre is a convenient way for authors and readers to connect on common ground and feed their shared passions.¬† It’s a¬†signpost to¬†direct supply and demand to consummate¬†that magic¬†transaction, and¬†in the absence of¬†a better solution, I suppose I’d better “suck it up”…!

As a reader, I spread myself shamelessly across as many genres as I have time for, but still there are a few I avoid.  My least favourite subject at school was History, and on the whole I tend to steer clear of reading historical books, whether fiction or non-fiction.  Yet why then do I list my all-time favourite authors as Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, Eugène Ionesco and Fyodor Dostoyevsky?  My conclusion is that they too were generalist observers and change agents who sought to breach boundaries rather than to exist within the constraints of tradition and convention.  I wonder what the Blog Hop posts of these esteemed gentlemen would tell us about genre in bygone days?

Therefore, as a writer with social justice aspirations, I have to target my favourite genre as Contemporary Fiction.¬† Mention the words “love” and “romance”, and most men run in the opposite direction.¬† Throw in “star” or “celebrity”, and the work may be¬†dismissed as superficial or lacking in substance.¬† Mention “inspirational”, as I did before I realised its connotations in North America, and I find myself stalked on social media by evangelists promising to save my e-soul.¬† And¬†dare to discuss¬†“depression”, “post-traumatic stress disorder”, “deathwish”, “nightmares” (sans vampires) and “inescapable social exclusion”, and everyone except fellow sufferers¬†is disaffected.

Contemporary Fiction is,¬†by definition, an overwhelming¬†buffet¬†from which it’s often difficult to decide or even identify what¬†might¬†take our fancy.¬†¬†On the other side of the coin, however, strict genre classifications tend to “preach to the converted”.¬† What I’m seeking is the “I’m willing to open my mind” genre; the “teach me something I don’t know,¬†and entertain me at the same time” category.¬† Now that would be the perfect genre for me, and one¬†which would have allowed my post to be a whole lot shorter!

Best wishes from a cloudless Melbourne Sunday!¬† There’s writing to be done.