Genre. I like the word. It sounds friendly and warm. Jhonra.
But what is it? A way to categorize things, including us. Sub-divided and placed in collective groups of similarity so people can tell what’s what and who’s who.
Is it a benefit? We’ve had stereotyping since the nineteenth century in reference to ‘constant imagery’ and this became common in psychology. Then transposed from scientific study to general life and used with upsetting results because we didn’t really understand what the original term was intended for.
There is an odd need to box things up and group them together. What if you fit in more than one box or none of the boxes? Then you have to devise your own and create a title for it. I have watched many interviews: musicians, writers, artists, comedians and they attempt to describe their style and use connected genres like: punk-rock-with-folky-twists, satirical-modernist-steampunk, pop-bluesy’ish – you see the problem?
Recently departed PD James fell victim to the same judgements of her work, often dismissed as not being proper literature. She wrote crime, science-fiction and supernatural; and did very well with all of her work. And, let’s think about our classics for a moment: A Christmas Carol, Wuthering Heights, All My Sons – all these literary tales have supernatural elements.
When I am asked the same question ‘what genre do you write?’ I also struggle to give a definitive answer. I write SF/F/H and poetry, which is often literary but sometimes experimental; serious or comical; I write speculative fiction which kind of covers everything because speculative means conjecture, hypothetical abstract. And I write erotica which is also all of the above!
Artists want to be individual. They want to find their own style. Yes, their work might be like something else and have strong influences or tendencies to certain traits of recognisable styles and formats. But hey – let’s get out of the boxes!