I used to chase other genres because I felt I needed to. I teach sixth grade, so shouldn’t I write Young Adult or Middle Grade? That’d make sense, right? But it wasn’t what I tended to read and masquerading in those genres left me feeling hollow.
My first success at publishing came with an analysis of vampire movies from the first Legosi Dracula up to the Dracula 2000. I loved the process, watching those vampire movies with my wife and jotting down notes.
So then I thought, I need to be a horror writer. Yet as I explored the books out there, very few resonated with me. And when I tried writing on the subject, I kept getting dragged sideways into Fantasy and Science Fiction.
In truth there wasn’t really a genre out there that fit me. It felt like I was in a clothing store and every genre I tried on was too tight or too baggy.
Eventually I discovered the truth.
My first agented and published novel was about a girl who discovered a cursed set of Tarot cards and then journeyed into a surreal world (you can read it serially here). But the book was terribly hard to market. It had a little horror and some YA elements and a bit of fantasy. Mostly, it had bucketloads of surreal. Ultimately it failed.
Over the years, the sting of that failure led to a realization. I was my own genre. I learned to accept that my weird fiction landscapes are always going to be different from the masses. And that’s not really so bad.
My advice to artists everywhere is don’t try to imitate others. Find out who you are and what makes you tick. Then you can create your own bizarre art that is totally you. Because the first person you should be creating for is you. An audience of one.