I read an article by Alan Jacobs, published in The Atlantic, called A Defense of Stephen King, Master of the Decisive Moment and it resonated me deeply. It also brings to mind a conversation I had with a friend and colleague of mine.
Searching out magazines to submit her (beautifully written) short stories, she came across the rule on most of them: No genre allowed. Not having been exposed to the biased literary world, she asked me – “What is genre, exactly?”
I told her not to worry, her pieces are literary, and that genre was something like Romance, or Sci-Fi, or Horror.
She said she knew what a genre was, just didn’t understand why most of the magazines say, “No Genre Allowed.”
And because I am often a smart… mouth… I barely managed to bite back my comments about genre writers being forced to pick up their food from the back doors of the popular restaurants. But my reply to her was this:
That same question stumps me. I think it is a bit of literary snobbery to tell you the truth, and (our fiction instructor) showed us first hand what that looked like.
He said genre like it was a dirty word. “That time I sold out, and wrote genre…”
“Stay away from him, Mabel, he writes genre.”
Nobody in the Harrison family spoke their uncle’s name since he cut loose and started to write genre.
So… My name is Michelle, and I write genre.
I generally enjoy reading genre over literary fiction (isn’t that a genre in itself? Just saying). Not because I don’t enjoy it, but because I identify more with genre. It speaks to me.
But it wasn’t until I read Mr. Jacobs’ article that I truly felt comfortable coming out of the literary closet. Because genre isn’t a dirty word. It is simply a classification used to guide readers to the type of stories they like best.
How about you? Do you prefer genre or literary? Had anyone snub you because of your dirty genre habit? Share your stories – I’d love to hear from you.