Without winning a penny of prize money or publication, I received perhaps my biggest achievement in publishing thus far. My store “Little Me, Big Me” didn’t win, but earned an Honorable Mention in Glimmertrain’s New Authors competition. Glimmertrain is the big time, bigger than anything I’ve submitted to before, and to make it in the top 5% of over 1000 entries is incredible. It means someone noticed me!
“Little Me, Big Me” is perhaps my strongest story I’ve written, one that suprised me when I saw how powerful it was when it came out. That’s a great feeling, being scared/pleased with your own work. The story is thinly science fiction, and it’s part of my recent struggle with genre. I’ve found labeling things by genre to be limiting and pedantic. My last story that was critiqued on critters.org received a number of replies that it was marked “fantasy” but didn’t feel like a fantasy story. My thought was “Who cares? What did you think of the story?” But genre also sets up reader expectations. If I wrote a story called “Feast of the Dragon” and wrote a touching character-driven piece about a young man trying to learn how to feed his pet iguana and listed it as fantasy, I would probably irritate readers. Recently, I’ve been wondering whether I “belong” as a fantasy writer, if I should write more fantastic and science fiction stories to be more “that,” or just write and let other people call the stories what they want to call them.
So my question is this– how important is genre?