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Thread: Genre Stigma

  1. #26
    the genre writers who won't notice, being too busy slouching around on their knuckles uncovering (not deep truths) but grubs
    mmmmm grubs



  2. #27
    Woof! MetalDog's Avatar
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    @KellyAssauer
    The human condition is the most interesting subject for me too - especially why we do the things we do. I just tend to explore the human condition to the tune of explosions, spaceships and insane computer systems.

  3. #28
    Slave to the Wordcount WildScribe's Avatar
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    I write erotica. When people ask what I'm writing, that tends to stop the conversation cold. The people I most like are also the most likely to be interested or supportive (go figure!) and my dad simply says "There's nothing wrong with that, but I'm sure you could find more success/better pay/whatever writing something else." My poor Catholic mother who hates the thought of anything sexual was sort of horrified at first, but now she talks enthusiastically about my projects with me while avoiding mention of the actual subject matter (she asks about recent sales, anthologies I'm editing and what stage they're at, how my writing has been going, etc.) Actually the support my mom shows makes me want to cry a little.
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  4. #29
    The Anti-Magdalene KellyAssauer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IDGS View Post
    I bet some YA writers have tales about when they've been asked when they're going to write 'grown up' stuff, and erotica writers with all kinds of real horror stories - I'd love to hear them!
    As I see it, the OP has asked if those who write in one category or the other have ever been asked why they don't write something in an other category... and this happens to me all the time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaeal View Post
    Nevertheless, I have a dream that someday a genre/literary discussion will go on for more than one page before explicit or implicit arrows are shot over somebody's bow.
    I shot no such arrows. I only said that this is all I can do right now. I can't seem to do anything else. I'm very one sided, very limited, very restricted.

    I'm stuck.

    I don't know why this is. It's my problem, my issue and the way I see my-self. It defines no one else but me.

    It addresses no other writer and no other category or genre of writers implicitly or explicitly, because I can not speak for them. I wouldn't dream of speaking for someone else. I respect all other writers. I wish them all well. I help them here as much as I can... and often, I really do wish that I could do what so many others can do.

    My apologies if for any reason my own personal failings were somehow misconstrued.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWest View Post
    Huh? What? Where am I?
    Quote Originally Posted by Silver King View Post
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  5. #30
    Caped Codder jaksen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    I'm told that, on one occasion when Stephen King was asked why he wrote horror stories, he replied, "What makes you think I had a choice?"

    I write what I write. Yes, everyone gets those "When are you going to write a serious book?" questions (possibly except literary authors, who are probably asked "When are you going to write something popular?")

    It comes with the territory. And it comes from folks who aren't in the business not knowing what to say to an author. They're fumbling.

    Love it.

    I am a SF writer who stumbled into mystery writing, which wasn't my 'first choice.' I read a few short mysteries, said I can do that and I did. I enjoy writing them, but my true first love is SF, followed by horror.

    I write what I write and lately it's mostly horror and SF. I kind of figure out the genre as I go. I've recently completed an MG horror novel (making the agent/agency rounds) a supernatural mystery and a standard mystery novel.

    Unless I purposely sit down and say: Need to write a mystery short, got to pay the taxes on my second house...

    I just write whatever comes out.
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  6. #31
    DenturePunk writer bearilou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    I write what I write. Yes, everyone gets those "When are you going to write a serious book?" questions (possibly except literary authors, who are probably asked "When are you going to write something popular?")
    I missed this the first time through, until Jaksen pulled it out. I would guess that happens a lot as well.

    In essence, anyone who knows a writer and doesn't write themselves are most likely going to have something to say (masquerading as constructive input; why they seem to think they're qualified to give it is probably a rant for another time) about what we write, no matter what it is that we're writing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Phaeal View Post
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  7. #32
    Dorothy A. Winsor dawinsor's Avatar
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    As I read this thread, I've been trying to think of an answer I feel comfortable giving. I don't want to insult people or pick a fight. Maybe a light tone and "Spoken like someone who's never tried to write a good X." It has the merit of being true.

  8. #33
    Tell it like it Is Susan Littlefield's Avatar
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    I write dark, thriller, and way too serious. I wish I knew what it was like not to write dark. I've never had anyone question why I write what I write, though.
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  9. #34
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KellyAssauer View Post
    I shot no such arrows. I only said that this is all I can do right now. I can't seem to do anything else. I'm very one sided, very limited, very restricted.
    Except that you did, however unintentionally, when you said this:

    Quote Originally Posted by KellyAssauer View Post
    Someday maybe I'll have a choice... but right now I can't write anything else but 'serious' books. I'm afraid I don't understand non-serious, and I don't read for entertainment.

    I guess I'm not a very 'fun' oriented person... instead, I see all these things around me, all this 'human condition' and feel a great need to explore and uncover all these things we do to each other and constantly ask why...
    Your post suggests that genre writers don't write books that are serious or that explore the human condition.

    Whereas all good writing, regardless of genre or age of the target audience, is serious in the effort it takes to write and, at a very fundamental level, explores what it means to be human.
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  10. #35
    Girl Detective AW Moderator Stacia Kane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phaeal View Post
    Genre writers, on the other hand, have no interest in the human condition and never, ever ask why.

    I don't really need a sarcasm alert here, do I? Well, except for the genre writers who won't notice, being too busy slouching around on their knuckles uncovering (not deep truths) but grubs.

    What? Sorry, I was too busy writing shallow, superficial stories about shallow, superficial people to pay attention.

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  11. #36
    The Anti-Magdalene KellyAssauer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terie View Post
    Your post suggests that genre writers don't write books that are serious or that explore the human condition.
    My post should infer that the human condition is all I have.

    That's it.

    I don't have super cool space ships, or scary monsters, or mystic dragons, or odd historical settings or super sleuths or elicit body parts or sweeping love stories, or, or, or.. any of those fantasticly inventive super imaginative things!

    Nope, all I got is this human thing - and I'm supposed to make this work? Who am I kidding? It's like saying all the tools I need to write with is a sidewalk and a piece of chalk.

    And most times... it just plain sucks that I don't have that kind of imagination. Especially when people ask me what I write...
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWest View Post
    Huh? What? Where am I?
    Quote Originally Posted by Silver King View Post
    For Kelly, and others seeking soft asylum.
    "It is only the large subjects and the big, sweeping themes that make cheap sentences possible." -Cleo Birdwell

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  12. #37
    practical experience, FTW Debeucci's Avatar
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    Interesting. I get none of this. People are simply impressed that I wrote a book, and even more so that it's actually getting published. But then, I don't think most of my friends read that much.

    Though to be honest, it could be that they just have a poor opinion of me. Who knows? Maybe I'm a dumbass.

  13. #38
    practical experience, FTW flapperphilosopher's Avatar
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    At the moment I write literary historical and don't really tell anyone about it, so I haven't got any feedback either way (though I bet "why don't you write something that sells" will come up at some point in my career, haha), but I want to say genre stigma stuff sucks and it sucks that anyone gets it. When I was younger I read mostly fantasy and wrote that, but as I started to get the impression that it's "just" fantasy and not "worthwhile literature" I backed away from that. I didn't want to write "just" fantasy. I always wanted to explore the human condition and psychology and character nuances and stuff, but I did get the impression that if I did that in a made-up world, it wouldn't be as Serious as if I set it now. Rubbish, isn't it?
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  14. #39
    _ SomethingOrOther's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terie View Post
    Your post suggests that genre writers don't write books that are serious or that explore the human condition.
    It would suggest that, and all of the rest of that, if you exclusively equate "non-serious" to "genre" and "serious" to "literary" and "read for entertainment" to "read genre" and "fun" to "genre" and "[bit that expresses primary desire to explore human condition]" to "[belief that nothing else explores the human condition at all]."

    But all of those equations / interpretations are at least a bit incorrect.

    Not all genre stuff is non-serious, not all literary stuff is serious, the best literary stuff is as entertaining as the best genre stuff, literary stuff can be fun too, and of course, implying that one category's primary goal is to explore the human condition isn't the same as implying nothing else at all does. By "not all ... is" I mean "a heck of a lot isn't."

    To take offense to that, you kind of have to buy into easily disproved stereotypes.
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  15. #40
    Toughen up. gothicangel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IdiotsRUs View Post
    Have to say, am kind of tickled the OP's Mum considers romance 'something serious'.
    Yeah, that's what I thought.

    I think all genres [including literary] have a stigma attached to them. Each genre has 'popcorn' novels, and each genre also has 'serious' books. Heck even Hiliary Mantell gets criticised, the best I've seen is 'historical fiction shouldn't be written in present tense.' WTF?

    And I will also say, I think some of the best exploration of human nature is in genre fiction. I love Ian Rankin as one of the best writers on what it means to be Scottish [detective fiction], one of the best writers on the experience of colonialism is Rosemary Sutcliff [children/YA/historical], favourite love story Gone With The Wind [women's/love story/historical fiction.]

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  16. #41
    Toughen up. gothicangel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KellyAssauer View Post
    I don't have super cool space ships, or scary monsters, or mystic dragons, or odd historical settings or super sleuths or elicit body parts or sweeping love stories, or, or, or.. any of those fantasticly inventive super imaginative things!
    I write genre and don't have any of those things either. Although I don't know what you mean by 'odd historical setting' or the literary fiction doesn't have sweeping love stories. It suggests to me that you aren't as widely read as you think you are.
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  17. #42
    Having Fun with Words MyFirstMystery's Avatar
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    I think most of us would agree it's best to write what you love and know, and a mistake to take the reactions of others too seriously.

    When it comes to dear old Mom, perhaps some gentle pushback would be appropriate.

    "I'm a horror writer Mom. It's what I do, it's who I am." with a good-natured shrug.

    If she's as supportive as you say, she'll get it and eventually drop it. If she won't drop it, she's not being supportive, she's trying to shape you into HER image of what a writer should be.

    You'll still love and appreciate her if she goes the latter route of course, but I think at that point you just stop caring what she thinks on that particular subject.

    Too blunt? I hope not. In the end you need to own your identity and career choices and distinguish between useful feedback and destructive nay-saying.

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  18. #43
    Girl Detective AW Moderator Stacia Kane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debeucci View Post
    Interesting. I get none of this. People are simply impressed that I wrote a book, and even more so that it's actually getting published.

    Really? I get, "Oh." And a change of subject.

    I wonder if I say it wrong or something? I honestly don't think I've ever had anyone seem even remotely interested or impressed.

    It makes me giggle when people say they can now tell everyone they're Published Authors, because my thought is always, "Yes, and no one will care."
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  19. #44
    Slave to the Wordcount WildScribe's Avatar
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    My very favorite reaction was the lady at Starbucks who struck up a conversation with me about what I was doing on the laptop. When she wouldn't stop pestering me for details I finally told her that I was writing lesbian erotica. She went silent, dug through her purse, pulled out a bible tract thingy, set it on my keyboard, and took her coffee and walked away.
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  20. #45
    practical experience, FTW
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    I wish I had a clearer memory of the conversation with my father that went something like, him saying, why do you write this science fiction stuff? and me saying, DAD, that's what you gave me to read when I was a kid. What did you expect?

  21. #46
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    When I mention that I'm a writer, and people ask what I write, I tell them "speculative fiction" (which, to my understanding, is the best catch-all term for "fantasy, scifi, steampunk, post apocalypse, horror, supernatural" otherwise known as "not always literary and perhaps weird and frightening"). The conversations actually tend to stop there, because they don't seem to know what I'm talking about. Which I can't really say that I mind.

    Now, when people do know what I'm talking about, it sometimes comes from surprising sources who then want to know where they can read me (Currently, nowhere, unless you're interested in dogs. I don't have business cards for my gesture at a writing blog).

    I don't run into a whole lot of that "when are you going to write serious things?" perhaps because it seems (to me, anyway) as though genre has become far more acceptable. Or maybe I just know a pretty forgiving crowd, family included.
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  22. #47
    Dull Old Person Flicka's Avatar
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    If I say I write, people just go "Oh" and change a subject - much like Stacia says. No one asks what, no one offers input, advice or even interest.
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  23. #48
    They've been very bad, Mr Flibble Mr Flibble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KellyAssauer View Post

    I don't have super cool space ships, or scary monsters, or mystic dragons, or odd historical settings or super sleuths or elicit body parts or sweeping love stories, or, or, or.. any of those fantasticly inventive super imaginative things!

    Nope, all I got is this human thing
    You realise that in fiction the list you gave are all merely ways to explore the human condition, right?

    Tbh, that's all we all have. We just express it differently.




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  24. #49
    Tyrant King jeffo20's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gothicangel View Post
    I think all genres [including literary] have a stigma attached to them.
    As I read through the answers on the first page, this is pretty much what I was thinking, too. I've also been an environmental educator. You want to talk about a job that gets the 'You get paid for this?' question (and the 'when are you going to get a real job?'), try running around the woods and playing on beaches and in ponds with kids all day.
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  25. #50
    never mind the shorty angeliz2k's Avatar
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    Yeah, I think writers in general get a bit of that sideways-glance thing. Like, "You're probably some crazy, weird, live-in-a-cabin-in-the-woods, hippie, or a stuck up intellectual snob..."

    Each genre of course has its own brand of outside attackers. I don't really discuss my writing with people in my life, but I know my brother would say something along the lines of, "Why would you write about things that happened 200 years ago? That's so stupid. It doesn't affect what you're doing now and today. You should be living for the moment...blah. Blah-blah. Blah. And blah."

    I feel a lot of readers might feel a least a little the same way about historical fiction, but I don't care. I love examining how people--humans just like us--reacted to extraordinary circumstances in different times and places.
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