Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Reading: Writers Workshop of Horror

Chapter 15: Joe R. Lansdale

This chapter really opened my eyes to a lot of things that I hadn't really thought about before.  For instance, my reading habits: the authors I read, the genres I pick, my writing style, etc. I'm without a doubt dedicated to Horror with all of my heart, so when it comes time for me to watch or read something, it's normally going to involve some type of dark element, whether literal or psychological.  I've been reading the classics in Monster Fiction this semester, and have been studying demented settings and psychos for the past year.  However, I also have a guilty pleasure of science-fiction and fantasy, but that's more of a visual stimulation rather than a critical reading one.  Yet despite my habits, Lansdale makes a great point: "Reading and writing in the same genre is all right, but sometimes, if you're too familiar with the ropes and approaches to a certain type of fiction, your brain not only becomes comfortable, it becomes bored.  And so does the reader (139)."

Reading that was equivalent to the light bulb turning on above my head. At times horror does bother me, because I'm getting rather good at predicting certain happenings....especially in movies.  Books may have similar plot lines, but movies are really starting to irritate me. So Lansdale's solution is to get outside of the genre.  And even to someone who is a horror addict, that's kind of scary.

I do have interests in a lot of other genres, and have a few authors that I will read no matter what the book is about, as long as their name is attached to it.  For instance, I adore Nicholas Sparks, and have read every book that he has ever written (except for his newest one, because of school work), and James Patterson owns my heart...and I refuse to read everything that he was written because I never want to finish his books, haha.  I have almost all of them, and have read a TON of them...but I only read him sparingly because I just can't handle the possibility of there not being a Patterson book to read at my will.  So right there, we have Romance and Crime...and ironically, I'm also very intrigued in young adult fiction.  Ellen Hopkin's book have changed my life based on how they are written, their honesty and pain...I have read and re-read all of her books because of the differing effect that they have on me each and every time I read them.   But those are just some examples in genres...I also have been developing a liking for Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors, The Wolf at the Table, etc).  So there is that biographical element that I'm interested in too.  I love a true story, especially one that deals with a type of emotional climb...

So yes, while I'm married to Horror, I do have other affairs outside of the genre.  And truth be told, I think this is why I decided to major in English Literature rather than Creative Writing -- I wanted to read the masters, and learn the techniques rather than surrounding myself in genre fiction.  I think one needs to learn where everything came from in order to understand contemporary literature. 

That's why I think Lansdale said it best when he talked about people picking up a book just because it has your name on it.  I don't want to be labeled and confined to only writing one type of story.  I want to cross breed genres such as paranormal romance, or sci-fi and crime.  I want to be able to create worlds, and then break them down only to reconstruct them again.  I want people to look on the shelves and say.. "There is a Wytovich book.." and not even look at the summary, but buy it anyways.

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