Archive for March 15th, 2012

I was in the car with my Dad and sister one day and I was thinking random thoughts, as per usual. Suddenly my brain clicked in and before I knew it, I was asking “Dad, do islands float?” I was in grade 11 at the time and I have yet to live this down.

Logic has never been my strong suit. The only bars I’ve ever passed serve alcohol and will likely remain that way. Yet there’s something intriguing about my thought processes. I adore thinking outside the box. And what’s wrong with asking “why?” questions or wondering about something that people take for granted. There’s something intriguing about asking questions about universal truths and uncontested teachings.

(I’m getting to the writing bit in a second, hang in there…)

I was so lucky my father is a genius when it comes to math. Where most teachers would get frustrated with my “why does it work that way?” or other precocious questions (that I think were stalling methods to avoid homework as much as curiosity), Dad would explain the rationale in as many ways as it took. I usually caught on years later. Lucky for me there are calculators.

Anyways, the point to my post is:

These epiphanies are far from over and no area of my life will ever be exempt from their sparkly “Ah ha!” moment. Last night was one such event. It might not have been as sparkly as usual because this realization has been floating in and out of my consciousness for quite a while now. I just usually forget about it.

This project has been so difficult because to isolate an entire genre is almost impossible.¬†That’s right. I’ve rediscovered the universal truth about literature. And it’s only taken my 8 months and 8 different genres to brand this into my little brain. Do you know how hard it is to keep something completely adventure related? Or romantic? I’ve come to think that there are only a few umbrella genres- adventure, mystery, horror, romance. Everything else falls within one of those 4 categories. (I may be missing one or two).

Even with a compressed classification system, there will always be overlap. Are books now becoming more complicated in that they encompass more genres¬†or have the books we classified as the classics still fall into adventure/romance or gothic horror/adventure, etc. but the label as “classical literature” bear more weight so everything else becomes pretty much irrelevant?

Thinking about the project in this way has made me understand the recipe for disaster this has produced. It’s so easy to get discouraged about the work when you see other elements creep in. I don’t know if a purist could keep a hold on their sanity if they ever began thinking about labels and categories. The beautiful aspect about writing is that you really have to trust the story’s direction and your characters. The creative process is mercurial; there’s no way to keep it confined and bound within an arbitrary classification system. And that is what genres are. They are guidelines that give you some semblance of progression.

The weight of success and expectations of 12 pure novels has been lifted. Perhaps the guidelines have been unrealistic for this year. I thought that a big part of the problem was that I had no experience with some of the genres I was working in (like SciFi) but perhaps it was just that SciFi is really just an adventure set in the future or in space or with machine-grown babies. It’s like having triplets and dressing them in different clothes suddenly gives you 9 kids instead of the 3 you actually have. I suppose I’ve been working in sub-genres when you look at the world of literature. Each genre depends on another one to support it and there’s too much going on within your main genre to address every aspect. Just as one person can not put on a Broadway show, one book can not encapsulate the breadth of the main category of literature selected. There will always be supporting styles required to complete a story.

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