Finding my genre identity

When I started writing regularly this past year(and by regularly I mean unless I was sick or working, I wrote), I decided that I had to put the effort in if I was going to see any results.

This meant that I had to decide what I was going to write. This meant if I finished a story the day before, I’d start something new.

This schedule has helped my writing improve and has shown me where my weaknesses lie.

The one thing that I fought with over this period was my identity as a writer. Yes I have a collection of short stories that are in the horror genre on Amazon, but I’m also aware that I enjoy writing in various genres.

This became more clear to me yesterday when I started rewrites on the novel I wrote during lock down in April 2020. I wrote around 3200 words a day during that month and during the first few days of May, I completed the 100k first draft.

Fast forward to last month. I gave my wife the draft. She read everything that followed that draft and I came to me with worry on her face.

“I think this needs to be rewritten.”

“Why? What’s wrong?”

“Everything you’ve written since has been better and I think you need to rewrite it. You’re a better writer now.”

I hadn’t thought I’d improved that much since I finished that novel. But according to my wife, I had.

It took me until yesterday to get started on those rewrites for a few reasons. Fear that I’d screw it up and a greater fear of my identity as a writer. I’ve clung onto the belief that I was a horror writer, because I like horror a lot more than most other things. It doesn’t matter the form, I love it.

But I thought about my struggles with long form fiction. One that has persisted through the past year.

I have written over a dozen short stories since the novel I speak of. But as for novels, nothing.

I think the point is to write. It doesn’t matter the genre and it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about your writing as long as you enjoy it.

So, with that viewpoint, I started the rewrite process, with an eye towards improving and/or removing sections in the novel which didn’t work.

It’s a process that I threw away for writing an outline. I write better when I’m partially winging it. It’s the rewrites that get me down.

On that note, I will leave you to your own writing, whatever you may be reading and the reminder that your identity as a writer is not beholden to one genre. Write in all of them.

Moving forward

Growing up in the 80’s I read a lot of Tom Clancy books. I read Red Storm Rising in 6th grade and that was my first of his books. It wasn’t my choice to read these. I had to read the genre my father read. I was never given a reason for this but I read other books on my own.

When I started writing in my late twenties I avoided writing stories similar to the Jack Ryan books. I did this because of childhood trauma and bad memories.

That ended during lockdown when I wrote a 100k novel in 32 days.

I’ve avoided doing rewrites on this book because although I loved writing it, I’ve always felt like horror was more me and spy/thriller was more him.

My father and I are not close. I’ve seen him twice in the last 10 years

Now I feel that writing this book is a way to exorcise some childhood demons and maybe find my way a bit better.

I read a tweet the other day that said write what ever you want and while I love writing horror, I think the 13 year old me would like this one.

So I’m off to rewrite this 100k novel. I have short stories going out in the next 3 months for submissions and they’re all horror but this book is for me. I’m not sure where it will go, but it’s the 11th book I’ve written.

While I’ve only published a collection of short stories this one needs me to write it more than the others.

Have a good Tuesday.

End of the year thing

I won’t tell you this year sucked, we know it did.

I did a few things this year that I never expected to do.

I submitted a lot more, published a short story collection, and pushed myself to write things that make me uncomfortable. I also read a whole lot.

But I didn’t quit.

I know there have been a lot of writers who just could not get words on the page this year. I understand that. The year had the opposite effect on me. I wrote more stories than I’ve written in any prior year.

In the next year I plan on writing and submitting more than I have this year, which will be a hell of an accomplishment.

I wasn’t able to work a lot of events as a bartender this year. It put a strain on our finances but good planning by me in the early months of the year sustained us through the year.

I look forward to doing events next year, but I’m so tired of people not being cautious or saying things like, “If it were up to us, you wouldn’t be wearing a mask” or “We’re all friends here, you don’t need to wear that mask.” As if being friends makes the virus go, “oh wait they’re friends, I won’t infect them.” The virus doesn’t care about your family or friendships.

This year I also started to use my whiteboard more. I list when a story is due, how many words it needs to be and who the publisher is.

This has helped me write a lot more and keep my focus on publishing. I haven’t had a story picked up yet, but I’ve come close.

I’ve made a list of submissions until May for short stories as well as for novels I want to publish or submit to agents. I have four novels or novellas I’ll be submitting, self-publishing, or writing in the next 12 months. There will be others that come along, but I know what I need to have done by certain dates and that keeps my head in writing.

I know I have a bit of privilege as my wife works from home and pays our bills with her salary, which allows me to write as much as I do, but if I’m not writing I feel like I’m letting her down.

I will continue to grind, to push myself in directions of horror and other genres that I’m uncomfortable with. I have to push myself because it’s the only way to improve.

Hope you all have a happy and safe New Year’s Eve and I’ll see you tomorrow.

The argument of what genre one should write.

For the last year I’ve had this argument with myself.

It goes something like this:

“You need to only write _____ genre. You can’t define yourself or finding a following if you write in every genre.”

This damn argument has been driving me crazy.

I write stories in a various genres and yes, they all have some element, though small to the reader, of horror.

I see my favorite horror writers who’ve written in comics, but I wonder if they write stories in other genres and file them only for themselves? Which is something I’ve considered doing.

But I like the stories I’ve written in genres outside of horror. They interest me and if they do that for me I’m sure they would for readers.

Do publish them under a pseudonym? That’s been something my wife and I have discussed. It’s where I’ve been leaning for books outside of horror.

I’ve written fantasy stories that I’ve enjoyed, yes they’re more of the Grimdark variety, but I enjoyed them. I have one due the end of January for an anthology.

I guess writing horror is where I gravitated to because it’s where I’ve always found the most enjoyment. I have an enjoyment of darker things, it’s just who I am.

The argument is getting to a point where I’m putting it in its place.

I write all types of things because I like to read horror, political thrillers, and spy novels.

Those are what I write. The book I wrote from April to May, political/military thriller. The stories I’ve been writing over the last couple of months, horror of various degrees.

I have spy novel I started in September but put it away because of this argument. I hate this argument. It always distracts me from the fact that I’m writing. It doesn’t matter the genre, I’m still writing.

My goal for 2021 is to put this argument to bed and just write. If it ends up as horror great, military/political/spy thriller, fantastic.

But trying to fit myself into one box or another is a worthless effort.

Writing is writing regardless of the genre.

What the hell is this?

I get a bit weird when I’m starting a new project, my wife attributes this to imposter syndrome.

It’s also that when I’m starting a new project, I feel that I’m abandoning genres that I feel more comfortable writing.

The fact is that I’ve been writing horror for the last year. Following a set of rules when I write and I’ve tossed them and trying something new. Maybe that scares the hell out of me, but I want to write what I enjoy.

The new story has horror elements but is definitely Grimdark fantasy.

I happened upon this story when I wrote a short one that I’m submitting next month. I mentioned that on Monday’s post.

This whole thing started because of that story. But I have no path for it. I have no idea where it’s going and after writing with a beat sheet or outline for the last year, it scares the hell out of me to write another way.

The longer form stories I’ve written this year have been good, better than I’ve written in a while and maybe that’s why doing this scares me.

Let’s get to the meat of this issue.

The stories I’ve written this year have had a formula.

Take a story archetype(clowns, aliens, ghosts), add an element(serving a higher power, seeking truth, helping another), then throw in a thing(graveyard, hospital, guitar) and use those to create a story.

I have done none of those with this project.

I’m sure that’s the problem and I need to think about it more, or I need to pull something from my bags. I have bags where these archetypes, elements, and things are kept. It’s a thing I learned from Writing in the Dark by Tim Waggoner.

I abandoned it for this project and I’m sure that’s why I’m struggling.

I guess I answered my own question.

Sometimes working through by writing it down helps.

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