Genre can be a difficult thing to pin down. This is especially true when you are a “genre-hopper” like myself. In the past year I’ve written:
- a sci-fi novel
- a fantasy novel
- sci-fi shorts
- fantasy shorts
- creative non-fiction essays
- contemporary poetry
- speculative poetry
- horror shorts
In short, I’m all over the place. What’s worse is that I don’t really want to limit my writing to one genre. I want to write sci-fi and fantasy and non-fiction. I want to write poetry and prose. What’s more, is I want to find readers who dig all of these different things I’m writing.
Which means I need to find a genre. Kind of a circle race, isn’t it?
Who reads me?
First, I am taking a long, hard look at who reads my writing. Besides my parents, because they HAVE to read it, right?
At the moment it is mostly my friends who read my work. Not all of them, but a certain type of friend. These are the friends who understand a lot of the darkness in me. They know about my depression and maybe they have experienced similar mental health issues.
At the same time, these are the friends who appreciate my deep POV. They enjoy the way I experience things, my focus on minute details, and the connections I form. These are the friends who get my metaphors.
So, the friends who stick around and keep reading me are into the mental health and dark beauty aspects of my writing. Great. Steps in the right direction.
Except, mental health is not a genre. It’s a topic. And while I include it thematically in most of my writing, it is not the only thing I write about.
Who buys me?
The second question I asked myself is who buys me (and what writing are they buying)? I was surprised to realize two of my poems were bought by a paranormal magazine. A subsection of horror. Am I a horror writer?
Then I looked at my flashes and short stories. Four of them were picked up by: horror and dark fantasy publications.
Other stories and poems have been picked up by women’s sci fi publications, general sci fi, and general fiction.
Do I write horror?
I don’t really consider what I write as horror. But that’s because I have a particularly narrow definition of what constitutes horror. I find it to be something that scares or disgusts me. While I do write disgust, I don’t really tread into the land of fright because I don’t want to trigger my anxiety.
I can’t even read most horror. Most.
But on looking closer, I realized a lot of what I read can be classified as types of horror. Particularly two subgenres: gothic horror and cosmic horror.
Gothic horror focuses on pretty, atmospheric writing and settings. Check. Love that.
Cosmic horror, started by Lovecraft, is the idea that there are forces lurking beneath the visible surface of the world. In other words, how I often end up symbolizing mental health issues.
What about slipstream?
Yes to slipstream. Absolutely. I consider myself more of a slipstream writer than a horror writer. Slipstream blends realistic and fantasy, now and future. With a sprinkling of paranormal or horror. So much of what I write could fall under the slipstream of “weird” umbrella. (Side note: I really wish weird fiction was called queer fiction, but I can see the confusion that would cause, so I won’t push for it).
If I could name my genre it would probably fall somewhere between Gothic slipstream and cosmic slipstream, rather than a clean horror label.
What’s all this mean?
Honestly, to my readers this won’t make much of a difference. I will still write what I’ve been writing. Just now I have a title for it, so I can find more readers in my genre.
The slight, exciting change is that my blog will focus on other works in this genre. This will include short stories written by authors I love as well as a monthly book club, in which I will review a Gothic, cosmic, or slipstream novel.
If you want to know about these books and stories, as well as my latest publications, you can subscribe to my email list.
This month, I’m reading We Shall Be Monsters. It’s a collection of short stories inspired by Frankenstein, edited by Derek Newman-Stille. I can’t wait to share my thoughts about it with you.