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On the heels of another short story acceptance from ID Press, I recently reflected on how difficult it is to write in a genre that is new to me and outside my zone of comfort. The whole idea of this boutique/micro press is to explore genre…and have submissions from writers who are exploring genres which are new to them. They get their contributors to break down walls and push at the barriers of their genres of choice. I believe ID is perchance making me a better writer.
But I have been kicking and screaming every step of the way. Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light has become Do not go gentle into that new you, Old genres should burn and rave at close of page; Rage, rage against the leaving of the safe. Or something like that.
ID Press’s first anthology was all about HORROR…and the stories in it were written by those who don’t normally write it. I was thrilled to have a short story in PURGATORIUM. I waited to hear what ID Press would come up with next. And then it was announced. ROMANCE.
My first thought was, ‘Well, that’s a HORROR!”
We all have a genre or two of choice, both as readers and as writers. Some shy away from certain genres because they think they’re feeble, or silly, or too incomprehensible, or too complicated or shallow or fantastical for them. There’s really no explanation for taste. We read what we like because we like it. We write what we write because we like it. It’s pretty much as simple as that.
It’s when we are pushed beyond these boxes which we put ourselves into that the fun begins. Or horror. Or fear. Or personal expectations of failure.
I was given the genre and a deadline. And boy howdy, did I write! One thing after another. Full stories, partial stories, first lines, last lines, tidbits, thoughts, ideas, etc, etc, etc. I wrote so much. And then I gave up. My hope to finish a story by the submission deadline evaporated. There were a couple of days left and I still had nothing. Everything I attempted missed the mark. And not just missed it…I knew each time from the first word on that what I was writing was not going to be enough.
I gave up.
And then I kept thinking of those ‘sis-boom-bah’ emails I was receiving along the way, from Tobin Elliott of ID PRESS. They were little reminders of the looming deadline that served as little jagged knife wounds to the frustrated writer in me. JAB JAB JAB—2 months to deadline! POKE POKE POKE—Just 1 month left to go!
Once I gave up I began to see those emails as something softer than the harsh pokes and jabs I had originally taken them to be. I felt like they may have been badges of honour, instead. ID PRESS wanted me. I was on their radar and they invited me to submit a short story to them. How often does that happen? How often does a writer have that kind of an opportunity?
There was a day or two left to go. What could it hurt to give it one last go? I enjoyed my previous experience with this press. I wanted in. I tried to ignore my 32 previous goes at the genre. I tried not to say, I HATE ROMANCE! I mean, seriously, who can hate romance?
I released all expectation to the wind. And I hopped on a bus with a sketchpad and sat behind a girl. It was a cross-town bus.
My short story, originally over-titled as The Half-Drawn Girl on the Crosstown Bus, but which has now become The Half-Drawn Girl, will appear in ID PRESS‘s 2nd anthology of short stories—Allucinor – An Element of Romance.
What I struggled with for months came sliding onto the page almost the moment I stopped trying, worrying, second-guessing, over-thinking, questioning, fighting, genre-bashing, genre-shaming, panicking, etc.
If you write short stories, do yourself a favour. Give a new-to-you genre a spin. Just close your eyes and jump into it. Don’t overthink it. Don’t fight against the chosen genre because of your past experiences with it, or because you have biases against it. Change is growth, even in genre-writing.
This is a thank you note of sorts, because I love that I was pushed to the brink of I CANNOT DO THIS! by Tobin Elliott and the rest of the folks at ID PRESS. They helped me to grow as a writer…to push beyond my perceived abilities and look beyond genre. I look forward to seeing this anthology in the flesh. All the little worlds it will hold…a new one with each and every short story contained within its covers. Anthologies are magical that way, aren’t they. So many different trails to wander.
Thank you, ID PRESS. I needed the push onto that bus.