Confession: I don’t know what genre I write

Recently, I was talking to a friend about my writing and they asked me, “So, what genre do you like to write?”

And I froze!

funny-sarcastic-shirtsYeah, I know. It shouldn’t be that hard of a question to answer. But asking me what specific genre I like to write is like asking me what my favorite book is–it’s impossible to choose a single one. So, I told my friend that I like to write YA. And she accepted that answer, even though I knew it was a total copout response. YA is an umbrella genre that encompasses multiple sub genres: fantasy, sci-fi, comedy, drama, dystopian, new age, thriller, romance, suspense, historical fiction, horror…The list goes on and on.

And I get both exhilarated and overwhelmed by that list. There’s so many awesome topics to write about, so many interesting concepts to pursue, so many twists and turns to take! To pigeonhole myself into one specific sub-genre is unthinkable. Heck, even cornering myself into YA is alarming. What if I want to try writing a children’s book? Or what if I want to take a dip in the adult pool someday? It’s a long life. Things change. People change. Imaginations change!

4133e3820a69cbf65fc56f77d41b24a5A writer’s mind is like a jungle: untamed, tangled and adventurous. Ideas can come in the blink of an eye. Characters announce themselves without warning–some with a shy whisper, others with a victorious scream. Conflicts and solutions sprout up out of nowhere. Vivid scenes creep out of the dark. Brand new, unexplored worlds form, and those worlds come in all shapes and sizes: funny, tragic, terrifying or even confusing. All genres live in the wild mind of a writer, waiting to roar and spring forth!

93f86c08a7022e14e30bb2b2a6f72377Now, do I think most writers have a specific genre that they’re strongest at? Yes. And do I think those strengths will be the ones that lead to success? Probably. But, do I think any of that should stop a writer from exploring other genres? No! Writers are creative souls. We don’t just want to stretch our wings. We need to. And none of us should be categorized–not by others, and especially not by ourselves.

No matter if it’s a mystery, horror or romantic comedy, a story is a story. And when a story demands to be told, it’s the writer’s job to tell it (or rather, show it ;-)). We are the mind’s translator–the catalyst that unites imagination with paper. So, the next time you ask me what genre I like to write, I’ll likely tell you, “I write whatever my imagination tells me to.”

How about you? Do you consider yourself a one-genre specified writer? Or do you like the freedom to hop around like me?