I learned something this morning that I had not been aware of before. Mashed banana leaves stains on your plates that a dishwasher can’t get out, you have to scrub them off by hand. While I was doing that (because who wants the lingering stains of past bananas on their plates?) I thought about the kind of writer I wanted to be when I was kid.
Actually, I’m not sure I ever did figure that one out. I think I saw myself as a writer able to bounce from genre to genre. I loved so many different types of books, so many different styles. I didn’t see why I couldn’t write whatever I wanted. Perhaps with a few exceptions.
Crime writing: Love reading them, but there must be so much research involved concerning all those police procedures, supporting evidence, forensic doo-dahs … I tried to write a Miss Marple-type story entitled The Body on the Bus when I was ten. Two pages in I wrote “… and then they went back for the body because they forgot it.” Clearly police procedure was not my strong place.
Ditto spy novels, thrillers, horrors.
Chick lit: Eh … No. I don’t like reading them. They always seem to be about vacuous females obsessed with celebrities and their hair extensions. I couldn’t name any celebrities if I tried. When I first heard people talk about The Kardashians, I thought Star Trek was having a comeback.
Ditto romance and erotica.
YA: Eh … Maybe. Just not right now.
Ditto children’s books. And maybe fantasy.
Comedy: Could be. But I’m thinking only in Danish.
Historical fiction: Absolutely. I am an historian, after all.
As writers, we have to define ourselves according to genre. It’s how we know which literary agent to contact. It’s how we choose our categories on Amazon. For those of us who achieve the dream of seeing our books in Barnes and Noble, it’s the area of the store we tell our proud relatives to go to so they can stock up on copies. And where we hope those of our friends who say, ‘I can’t wait to read your book,’ will actually go and buy a damn copy.
Apart from that does it really matter what type of writers we are? Isn’t what we want simply to tell our stories? To write something down and send it out into the world, hoping that it will make a reader laugh, cry, ponder. We cherish a dream that somewhere, on someone’s nightstand, will be a dog-eared copy of one of our books. That it will be someone’s favourite, the go-to book for flights, sickness, long days by the beach.
That’s what keeps us writing long into the night, through all the rejection letters and the slumps on Amazon.
No matter what kinds of writers we are.