My article for the ACT writers centre is about to go up! It’s about the best books for emerging writers.
What do you write? For years I have gotten this question and I’ve had only the lame answer “I don’t know” or “weird stuff” as my defense against such adult queries. This may in part be because I have not spent much time trying to categorize myself. I’m still finding what it is I have to say and what I want to write.
But having spent some time in the dark thinking about this (as I go to sleep) I see that:
I write articles and short stories at this point. My articles tend to be political and strongly third wave feminist, centered around sexuality, reform and how language and ideas shape belief. There is an element of self help as well as using psychological tools of analysis to makes my arguments.
My short stories are self consciously musing and experimental. The brevity of them is particularly post modern. My stories struggle to master plot and neat resolution, instead they are often maddening circles, eddying towards full immersion; a deep double take of human, (meta)physical experiences. I work from the vantage of fiction and memoir mostly. I bricolage genres like romance and absurdity into intense experiences of word play. (I’m interested in exploring gothic horror and magic realism/surrealism). Gender deconstruction is explored heavily in all my work.
What further enabled me to define myself in terms like ‘absurd’ and ‘experimental’ and not just ‘weird’ was the submission guide from a literary online publication called Metazen. I saw the website not long after I wrote down my initial ideas about postmodern style and political themes in my work.
Kinds of fiction we like: Experimental fiction, literary fiction, metafiction, meta-meta fiction, magical realism, absurdist fiction, surreal fiction, K-Mart realism, minimalist fiction. We like all of this stuff. We like things that feel true in non-normal ways. We like text that is broken up and structures that seem unfamiliar. We like to read things that show a kind of suffering went into the work. We like pieces that use minimal means to achieve maximum potential.
By reading what they would like to see submitted I felt a rather relieved tear sting my eye (finding one’s place in the world as a 20-something is a dramatic thing I have found. And a process prone to dramatic crying!). I recognized myself in these definitions!
I’ve found a legitimate frame for which to understand my predilections. I knew my style and topics were often cruelly lacking in the desirable fluff of happy endings or clear meaning and lacking in that more essential stuff like character arcs, strong or traditional plot lines, but perhaps this may not entirely be ‘faults of the young writer’ but hints at a style still developing. Since this revelation of category, I feel more able to express the absurdity I witness in my work, as it seems less like an aberration that has no place.
I may say to you in the future:
“I write stuff you may not like. I’m developing my skills in plot and Romance but I find myself deeply committed to Literary genres which collude in disorientation, ambivalence and experimentation.”