“Most writers have very little choice in what they write about. What is in evidence over and over again is a certain set of obsessions, a certain vocabulary, a way of approaching the page.”
Betsy Lerner, THE FOREST FOR THE TREES
I’ve been reading Lerner’s marvelous book, which looks at the makeup of writers before delving into what actually goes on in publishing. Time after time, she astounds me with her insights, particularly when she addresses why writers write.
But it was the above claim that got me thinking about my genre in a new way. Did I really choose to write fantasy, or was it inevitable?
I’ve always been drawn to books that deal with the magical, the fantastic, the supernatural. You might say it’s an escape, but isn’t all literature just that, something that draws us out of the ordinary world into one the author creates?
When I decided to switch from journalism to fiction, it just seemed natural to write fantasy. Lerner puts it this way: “ . . . a writer gravitates toward a certain form or genre because, like a well-made jacket, it suits him.”
I love the analogy to tailoring. We start out with raw words, patch them together into designs best suited to our tale, fiddle around with alterations until we have a custom fit (call it voice, if you will), and –voila!–a book is born.
So, tell me, did you choose the genre or did the genre choose you?