Wednesday, March 5, 2014

IWSG: Define and Declare! Kind of. Maybe.


CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

I've pretty much always written what I wanted. I didn't worry about the genre or the age of the audience or the length of the piece. I've written horror, contemporary, and humorous stories. I've written for adults and YA. I've written short stories, flash and hint fiction.

But every once in awhile, I get it into my head that I need to define and declare myself as a writer - I am a YA horror writer! I am a women's fiction author! I then throw myself into learning the "rules," studying up, reading articles and blog posts…only to have a totally different story idea rise up and demand to be written, definition of who I now am as a writer be damned!

Sigh.

I could use a pseudonym, but I've written proudly under my own name for so long that I really don't want to go down that route unless absolutely necessary.

But I worry. What will readers expect when they see my name on a story? Will those who love the creepy stuff be disappointed in a more heartwarming piece? Will those expecting a "nice" story end up hiding under the bed, terrified of crazy spiders and monsters lurking near baseball fields? I don't want to let any of my readers down.

Have you defined yourself as a writer? If so, how? Was it easy, like you always knew you wanted to write mysteries, or did you struggle with the decision? If you write all over the place like I do, how do you handle it? Does it worry you at all, or am I just over-thinking it?

56 comments:

  1. I posted about this on the Untethered Realms blog a few weeks ago. I really don't have a clue what I would say in order to define myself and the question "what genre do you write in?" brings me total anxiety as the honest answer is "I don't know." I don't really feel like I fit in any definition except fiction LOL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe I could just stick with "fiction writer." That covers pretty much everything I write. :)

      Delete
  2. Why do you feel the need to define yourself as a writer? I think that sometimes when we try to define ourselves, we pigeonhole ourselves. Almost typecast ourselves. But I also see your point - seems like some of the most successful writers are defined. Interesting conflict...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's the orderly, structure-loving side of my brain that likes the idea of my having a certain niche, of knowing where I fit. The rest of me just shrugs and goes on about her business. :)

      Delete
    2. I can relate to your orderly, structure-loving side. I'm exactly the same way. I'm also like you in that I write whatever I want to write. Like you, I usually just call myself a fiction writer (and a poet).

      Delete
    3. Sometimes I wish that orderly side of me would just shut up and go away for awhile so I could just make a mess and play.

      You, Dana, can also add artist to what you call yourself, you and your art journals. :)

      Delete
  3. I hear all kinds of stuff on this topic from people, and it's a tough one to nail down. Many say you need to make it clear what kind of audience you're writing for. I'm liking the "fiction writer" idea. Best to not pigeon-hole yourself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sometimes just wish I had a particular genre or audience that I felt I was made for, you know? Maybe part of the problem is that I read all over the board, too, and I enjoy so much of it that I wish I could write all of it….

      Delete
  4. I've written in three different genres and used my own name every time. I think it's possible to do that and just define yourself as a writer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the reminder that it's definitely possible to do it that way. :)

      Delete
  5. I think it's easier to market a book if you focus on a specific readership, but a good read will always find an audience (or at least I hope so).

    mood
    Moody Writing

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree - good stories usually do find a home, on shelves and in hearts.

      Delete
  6. I started writing romance and still write it but my true love is fantasy. I use two different names. Not sure if I did that right thing with that or not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sounds like you did what you thought was best at the time and that's all you can really do. I'm still trying to figure out what's what for myself. :)

      Delete
  7. Some write under one name, some under different names. I guess it depends on what you want to do and how much time you have to devote to promoting each name.
    I've always wanted to write science fiction and probably always will.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See, that's what I wish I had - that "I've always wanted to write science fiction" (or whatever) feeling. Maybe I should just be happy with the fact that I've always had that "I've always wanted to write!" feeling. :)

      Delete
    2. Mysteries have always been my genre of choice. They've kept me entertained since my pre-teens, and Mystery was my genre of choice for writing stories. That said, I agree you should be happy that you've got the bug to write, genre be darned!

      Delete
    3. It's funny, because I really enjoy reading mysteries and suspense novels but when I've tried to write them? Ugh. It wasn't pretty.

      Delete
  8. I have to say, there are two authors that I adore and they recently changed their genre. Actually, they changed it several times. I've been impressed with each book they've written. If you're good, you're good. =)

    Elsie
    AJ's wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge
    co-host IWSG

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think good writing knows no genre, or pen name, but I agree it takes more time to promote/dedicate to each. Personally, I like the given name. I don't think I'd ever stop reading a favorite writer (say Joyce Carol Oates) because she decides to write completely out of her genre. I love what and how she says it, not matter where she takes me.
    Best,
    Silvia @
    SilviaWrites
    SilviaWrites

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is there anything Joyce Carol Oates hasn't written?!

      (When I saw my name and her name in the same Table of Contents (Hint Fiction anthology,) I almost fainted from shock. I was pretty sure my name in there was a mistake. Thankfully, it wasn't.:))

      Delete
  10. My writing has changed with my reading. My first book was Chick Lit, but a few years ago I discovered how much I enjoy a good fast paced YA fantasy adventure. Now, I can't even think about writing anything else. Give me a new genre to read and I'm sure I'll get hooked.

    Leanne Ross ( readfaced.wordpress.com & @LeanneRossRF )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The first manuscript I wrote that garnered me some industry attention was women's fiction, something I was reading a lot of at the time.

      Delete
  11. I haven't been published anywhere to worry about about what my readers think of me. If I was I'd like to hope that I wouldn't worry about my identify as a writer. Most of the writers I've really loved write different kinds of stories in different genres and leave it to the the marketing people to figure out how the hell to define it. I think that's best- let the definers define- it's your job to write.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good one - "let the definer's define - it's your job to write." :)

      Delete
  12. First, I have to say, I love the name of your blog. :)

    This is a very thought-provoking post. Though there will always be common threads in an author's writings (how can we keep ourselves completely removed?), I have questioned if this will be a problem, as my WIPs are all over the place genre-wise. I mean, they're all romances, but still.

    As I reader, I'm a genre snob. (I am. I admit it.) I might occasionally try new things, but I'm very picky when it comes to the bulk of my fiction diet. It sometimes frustrates me when I find a book I love, only to discover the author's other books are a mixed bag--an anthology here, a thriller there. Blek.

    But I also wonder if splitting them up between pen names is worse. The more books an author (single name) has, the more sales they get because it snowballs. It's hard to know which is more detrimental--divorcing them up or keeping them together.

    Dang good post.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. :)
    IWSG #268 (until Alex culls the list again or I goof and get myself deleted. :P)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can take credit for the post but not for the blog name - that was all the tortoises' doing. :)

      I'm pretty sure I'm over-thinking the whole thing, but it's nice to see some of you all doing the same. Makes me feel less alone. And less crazy.

      Delete
  13. I hate labels. AT first I was a memoir writer, strictly nonfiction. Now I'm writing fiction and feel like an impostor. So I say, hang the labels. Just write.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love this - "hang the labels. Just write." Sound good to me. :)

      Delete
  14. I tend to write all over the place as well, genre wise. I've also wondered about this and don't have an answer. Someone once asked me what I write and I was so flustered I blurted "fiction" out. Needless to say, I felt like an idiot and wondered whether the person thought so too. LOL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm starting to think "fiction" is as good an answer as any. :)

      Delete
  15. I am interested in writing for more than one genre (e,g, adult fiction, mysteries, YA, MG, PB), and sometimes I'm concerned about someone reading, for example, a picture book I wrote and then reading an adult mystery I wrote and being shocked by the edgier content in the grown-up book. And that's why we have to just hope that people pay attention to the section of the bookstore and library they are in when they get their books. =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A lot of authors write for both kids and adults. Definitely something to think about and pay attention to. :)

      Delete
  16. I have to say, I love writing across genres. I have, however (for the moment) focused on 'Speculative Fiction' which covers a lot of bases ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think a "label" that covers a lot of bases might be a good thing for me as well. :)

      Delete
  17. Maybe your issue is the same thing young people go through when they don't know what they want to be when they grow up. They like so many things, they can't decide on just one. That's not really a bad thing in and of itself, but the draw back is that you will end up lacking focus.

    I think in time, this type of person will figure out the do-or-die desire of their hearts, eventually. I wanted to do many different things, too, but writing was the only thing that I could keep doing in face of all the hardships it presented me. Everything else melted away when real opposition came along because I realized I did not love those other things as much as I thought I did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great comment, Cathy! The idea of closing one door so I can focus on opening another door makes me antsy - I don't want to close any doors or windows! I want to keep all my options open, even though I know that's not really possible. Sigh.

      Delete
  18. I thought I already made a comment here... hmm, well here goes again (forgive me if the comment went into moderation)

    Anyway, I just wanted to say, call yourself a writer and go from there. Sometimes the stories begging to get out have all the control. They won't always fit into the same genres.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, comment moderation is on here at TSR but no worries, Lynda. I love comments. :)

      Love the idea of "stories begging to get out have all the control."

      Delete
  19. I will keep the writing as a hobby because I cannot see a time that it will ever pay my bills. I have not published yet but is a short term goal I have for a short. Your post however on writing in different genres has given me a new insecurity though due to the genre of the short I have been working on.

    http://iknewiwould.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Writers already have enough insecurities - don't take on this one! Just focus on what you're working on right now and go from there. We'll all find our ways through somehow.

      Delete
  20. I have a hard enough time trying to find my writing voice, let alone define a genre, lol! Maybe you could categorize yourself as a cross-genre writer, that way you don't box yourself in right away.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do like the idea of calling myself a "cross-genre" writer. Or maybe a "hybrid" writer.

      Delete
  21. not only am i not defined as a writer, but my books are cross-genres as well. that's just how it is! i write the stories i get, like you. and i think the industry is keeping up by making up new names, like speculative fiction and NA. But i do seem to have a common thread in my writing style. i like fast-paced action and adventure, i'm definitely not flowery/literary, i always have some humor and a hint of romance, but there's tons of action, no sitting still, like me! So i'm a writer of adventures - genre be darned =)

    be YOU! make up your own name!
    happy friday

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good point about how the industry creates new names. Plus, there seems to be sub-categories within each genre, like within Romance, there's Paranormal Romance, etc.

      Happy Friday to you, too!

      Delete
  22. I'm a writer, that's it. I jump all over the place in terms of genre and audience - which is why marketing gets confusing. A single genre author must have it slightly easier when it comes to sales.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would think, too, that If you write in one genre, all your marketing efforts can go into finding that audience, building a loyal fan base, etc. And all that research and work builds on each other until you've created a pretty solid foundation to return to again and again.

      Delete
  23. I've thought about that. I think what I would do is use my initials for one genre, name for another, maybe my maiden name for the other. That way they are all me, but people will know from the name what genre I'm writing in. Though I always stick with women's fiction. I started a YA, but then moved it to NA. As I write, it's evolving into women's fiction too. I guess I am predictable!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the idea of using some form of my own name, and I would definitely consider that for the future. :)

      Delete
  24. I like so many genres. So write what you like. I've written dystopia, paranormal, thriller, but have ventured to contemporary, ya, mystery and ya historical. Hopefully readers will study the book blurb to learn more about the book before purchasing. Many novelist do change their pen name like Nora Roberts is JD Robb when she writes in different genres. I have a pen name, but Cathy is my real first name.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think pen names are fine, especially if, as a reader, I know "who" writes what. I believe Nora Roberts writes romance while her alter ego, Robb, writes more mysteries.

      Delete
  25. I worry about this a lot too, especially when I hear people talk about "branding." I don't want to be branded - not unless I'm being inducted into a cool martial arts expertise group - thinking of Kung Fu for a moment here - sorry, had a squirrel moment. But wait, that's how I write . . . I have one idea and then another. And they don't always flow together. I have written mainly fantasy and scifi, with a smattering of odd poetry and then there are stories I haven't sent anywhere . . . because they don't fit those.
    I am afraid of disappointing my most vocal audience - a group of Christian homeschool kids who actually ask me excitedly about my next book. I'm ok with the next book, and maybe the one after that, but some of my other ideas aren't in the same vein. Then what? Disappointed kids. Irritated parents? Should I take a pseudonym for something grittier? I don't know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's even trickier when you're writing for kids, especially younger kids. It's one thing to have an older YA audience pick up a more adult story, but you don't want your MG audience to do that just because they recognized your name on the cover!

      Delete
  26. Good post, Madeline. I haven't used a pseudonym yet and probably won't -- but you're right. What do readers expect to find when they see my name? Humor? Horror? SciFi? All of the above, to varying degrees.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They'll expect to read something well-written and they'll definitely get it. :)

      Delete