I’m feeling some type of way y’all. One of my pet peeves is being put in a box. No, not literally. I wish somebody would try that mess. I’m speaking figuratively. I don’t like when people assume that the girl raised in Compton, CA and Long Beach, CA is automatically hood (although I can be ’bout that life if necessary). I don’t like when people assume that, as a woman past a certain age and unmarried (especially a Black woman) I must be ready to walk down the aisle with any chump, whether he’s unemployed or toothless or batting for the other team. I don’t like when people assume that being overweight, fat, thick’ums or whatever you want to call it, means I spend my days curled up in a fetal position moaning about my cursed life.
That’s that ish I don’t like.
But you know what gets my goat more than any of that? It’s when someone tries to tell me what I can and cannot write. I consider myself to be a Christian Fiction writer. I’m learning more and more that identifying myself as such comes with a huge set of rules that I know nothing about! Not only that, but there’s an undeniable stigma attached to the title as well.
On the one hand, you have people in the Christian publishing industry up in arms about authors who are using the Christian Fiction title without following the strict guidelines set forth, which include no explicit anything. On the other hand, you have readers who are unfamiliar with the genre who look at you sideways when you identify as a Christian Fiction writer; like you’re going to beat them over the head with a Bible, take their lunch money, and then tell them that they have to forgive you ‘cuz Jesus said so. Needless to say, they often run in the other direction without giving your book a second glance.
Which is why I’m over here in my feelings, wondering what kind of writer am I? I don’t want to mislead readers. I want readers to be satisfied that what they thought my book was, and what they actually received was pretty much on the money. I also want to attract readers who might have never considered reading faith-based fiction. How do I best present myself in the most accurate and authentic way?
I’m not going to pretend that I have all of the answers. I not even going to pretend like I have some of the answers. But there’s a few things that I do know. I know that I want to be the kind of writer who writes what I’m passionate about. I want to be the kind of writer who writes what I know to be true. For me, that means that I’m a Christian who writes fiction about life. Life as I see it.
Whether all of this ever falls into a neat little box is yet to be determined.
What do you think of when you hear “Christian Fiction”? What do you think about genre specific guidelines? Do you think genre lines are blurring? Do you think the publishing industry is evolving when it comes to genre specifications?