Thursday, February 9

Comedikachu, I choose you!

So, genre - what's up with that?

I recently took a lame quiz in order to determine my direction in life. I got this rather ominous result:

You Should Be a Joke Writer

You're totally hilarious, and you can find the humor in any situation.
Whether you're spouting off zingers, comebacks, or jokes about life...
You usually can keep a crowd laughing, and you have plenty of material.
You have the makings of a great comedian - or comedic writer.

So the question is, does a writer choose a genre - or is it the other way round? Could I write bodice-ripping romance stories with gag-inducing sincerity, or hardboiled detective novels without falling asleep at the keyboard?

Some may turn to religion for these big questions. I turn to Stephen King:

Sometimes I speak before groups of people who are interested in writing or literature, and before the question-and-answer period is over, someone always rises and asks the question: Why do you choose to write about such gruesome subjects?

I usually answer this with another question: Why do you assume that I have a choice?

Writing is a catch-as-catch-can sort of occupation. All of us seem to come equipped with filters on the floors of our minds, all the filters having differing sizes and meshes. What catches in my filter may run right through yours. What catches in yours may pass through mine, no sweat. All of us seem to have a built-in obligation to sift through the sludge that gets caught in our respective mind-filters.... The sludge that catches in the mesh of my drain is often the stuff of fear.

- Stephen King, Night Shift (Introduction)

Isn't that a neat thought? That genre is not a choice but rather an obligation, some built-in leaning you have to discover rather than invent. In this ridiculous writerly world of drafting, editing, rewriting, re-editing, agents, queries, self-publishing, indie publishing, small presses, the big six, and fifty gazillion things you have to decide with nothing to guide you but your gut and the bad decisions those around you have made... it's nice to know some things are meant to come naturally.

I have no idea what my genre is. I know I like writing funny things, morbid things, and ludicrously postmodern things. And maybe that's all I need to know. It's not the most popular or maybe even the most sensible combination, but at least I know my brain's filter-meshy things are working.

So, writer friends, what catches in the mesh of your drain? Do you like the idea of having a genre, or reject the whole concept? And, most importantly - doesn't Comedikachu totally sound like a real Pokémon?

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