The video I made yesterday got me thinking. When a writer picks their genre – or rather, the story they wish to write is identified as a certain genre – that is a huge choice. And once you’ve made that choice, you have to have a real passion for it in order to be able to actually finish the project. There are no half-measures when it comes to writing a book, that part becomes clear early on.
For instance; I can enjoy the occasional murder mystery novel. A healthy dose of suspense and excitement in a sunbed while on vacation is great, but when I’m finished I move on with my life. I don’t have a burning passion for the genre. I’m ok with letting this be a one-night stand-ish sort of thing.
The same does not go for fantasy or historical fiction, though. I’ve had a bit of a love triangle with these two for the past 18 years. I love them for different reasons, so I couldn’t for the life of me tell you which one I love the most.
… and yet, when I was finally hit by a story that I just had to write, it turned out to be fantasy. It’s so clear to me now, even though I had never really reflected on this before, that despite this love triangle it was fantasy all along that was my greatest aspiration.
Of course, I’m not saying that writers can only write in one genre. Obviously, there are authors who make nice careers out of genre-hopping. I can’t help but wonder though, are they treating their genres as one-night stands, as individual, shorter relationships, or maybe even like a full-on harem? Perhaps that is taking the metaphor a bit too far. But you get the idea. I’ve read books from authors who can’t seem to make up their minds on what genre to specialise in. They write anything from horror to fantasy to non-fiction – and release a new book every year. I could go into a conversation about quality vs. quantity, but I think I’ll resist the urge.
For me, personally, I see genre choice as a long-term commitment. The unwavering passion that I spoke of earlier has to be there. Only that can bring me enough fuel to reach my goal, and even then it takes a tremendous amount of time. But then again, I’m just talking out of my derrière since I haven’t actually published anything yet. Who knows, maybe I will feel differently in the future. I suppose that’s what truly matters; that the opinion of today is open-minded enough to accept the changes of tomorrow.