Friday, July 15, 2011

Stumbling Into Genre

First, let's get the shameless self-promotion out of the way. My short story, DAEMIEL WATCHES, just won 2nd place in the Kay Snow Awards. External validation is a lovely thing. But here's the bloggable part. This is the 2nd short story I've written that has won an award, and both of them have been in the horror and suspense genre. "Big deal," you say. Well, since I've never particularly thought of myself as a horror and suspense writer - or even a horror and suspense reader - it is kind of a big deal. Or at least a mid-sized deal. It's left me asking myself what this means for me as a writer.

The realization that I have more than a few horror and suspense pieces to my credit had been gradually creeping up on me, enough so that I made a special page for them on my website. But this latest turn of events has put it all in a new light. Mind you, I don't plan on throwing my lot in with horror writers and ignoring everything else from here on, but I do plan on examining more closely the kind of writer I am and wish to be and the kinds of stories that draw my best work from me.

It got me thinking of the time I was browsing the shelves in Powell's Books and stumbled upon a copy of John Steinbeck's first novel, CUP OF GOLD, a swashbuckler based on the life of pirate Henry Morgan. It wasn't terrible, but it really wasn't Steinbeck. He so clearly had not yet found his true writing home, as if he was trying to live in someone else's skin.

I'm still not sure exactly what conclusions to draw about myself as a writer from all of this. At a minimum, it's a reminder not to pigeonhole myself, but rather to keep my mind open to stories of any genre, write the stories that demand I write them and attend to the characters who insist on attention. Still, I think I may have to take a look at some Stephen King.

1 comment:

  1. Cynthia writes: "more than a few horror and suspense pieces to my credit had been gradually creeping up on me," and Jan thinks that's a spectacularly appropriate turn of phrase.

    And congrats on both counts: the well-deserved prize and embracing the genres creeping up on you.

    And aside from King, I recommend Lovecraft's The Call of Cthuhlu, if you haven't already read it.


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