Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Multi-cross-genre literary creative non-fiction fiction

A new connection on Google-+ (speaking of which, is there a new term I’m missing? they’re not Facebook Friends or Twitter Tweeps…Plussers, maybe?) is in the habit of asking pointed, sometimes thought-provoking questions of her writers circle under the hashtag #writing_ques:

What do you prefer to write - articles, poetry,
screen plays, flash fiction, short stories or novels?

My response: Novels, short stories, essays, articles, the occasional flash...

What are you working on now?
My response: Shopping novel #1, editing novel #2, writing novel #3, plus weekly blog posts, essays, and the occasional short story...oh, and tech writing, if I can find a contract

What is your ultimate goal for your writing?
I’m still mulling a response for that one, but her questions have given me pause on more than one occasion. Usually when someone asks what I write, I say mysteries; both of my finished (!) novels are mystery stories, not quite cozies, but not hardcore thrillers, either. And they’re as much psychological studies and relationship journeys as anything; does that make them “women’s fiction”? If I take inventory of my (thankfully) growing list of publications, I find true “mysteries” are far down on the list.

The mystery novels have yet to attract an agent and self-publishing is not for me at this point, so they don’t count in the final tally – yet. Of my short story credits only one, “Happy Birthday to You,” (I know, lame title – it was an early effort) is a mystery. Oddly enough, it served as the basis for novel #2 (and gained a new title in the process). The remaining five short stories fall somewhere between women’s fiction and literary (a whole other debate), although the latest, published in a terrific online journal, is just creepy enough for the Halloween season. But it’s not really a mystery, either – maybe psychological thriller?

Genre is so ambiguous and hard to pin down. I’ve seen a map that breaks out forty-two different possibilities, and I’m sure it continues to expand. In determining genre, writers are told to imagine where their work would fit on the shelf at the local bookstore. A talented author from my writers group takes that suggestion to heart. Every week before leaving our local Barnes & Noble after our meeting, he finds the place where his book would fit and makes a spot on the shelf for it. I should follow his lead on that practice, and several others as I can easily see him as the first of our group to publish a full volume.

It’s disturbing thought, this review of my oeuvre. My dream has always been to be a fiction writer, yet I’ve had far greater success in non-fiction, from Historic Warren County: An Illustrated History, through newspapers articles and book reviews, to a recent anthologized personal essay. Fascinating, really, how dreams and reality diverge.

Is this dichotomy normal? Maybe I’ll ask my new Google+ #writing_ques connection/friend/buddy to add that question to her list.


  1. GREAT Post! And you had time to write it while doing, Nano.

    Maybe 'she' will have to think about adding that question to her list. :o)

  2. Actually wrote it the day before NaNo started (thinking ahead for a change!), but thanks for the kind words - and the inspiration!


  3. "Multi-cross-genre literary creative non-fiction fiction"

    I dare you to say that five times fast.

    Great post, CP.

  4. That's why I write, not speak in public, Bryan! ;-)

    Thanks for the kind words.



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