Site icon Crissi Langwell

What’s my frequency, Kenneth? (Musings on genre)

Every second Sunday of the month is the Redwood Writers meeting, our region’s group for writers of all types. I look forward to them every single month, and always come away completely inspired – from rubbing elbows with a bunch of wonderful writers and authors, to hearing the wisdom and advice from our monthly speaker.

Today, as usual, I gathered a bunch of useful information to keep with me and improve on my skill. But it was something in the very beginning of the meeting that really stuck with me and got me thinking. The speaker asked the newcomers to stand up and say their name, and what they write. One person stood up and introduced themselves as a romance author. Another was a writer of mystery. Another wrote historical fiction. Another wrote poetry.

It got me thinking. What would I say if I had to stand in front of a crowd and sum up my writing with one label?

I’ll tell you one thing, it wouldn’t be easy. Let’s look at my published works.

My first book is “A Symphony of Cicadas,” a book that could be classified as both literary fiction and paranormal fantasy. I grapple with the genre all the time. If you follow the main character, Rachel, the story is paranormal fantasy, perhaps magical surrealism, as it follows her journey through the afterlife after she and her son died in a car accident. But truly, she is more of the narrator as she witnesses the lives of all those she left behind in the real world. Then it becomes more of a literary fiction novel. But as a whole, the story is about a family who is knocked off course by a devastating blow, and must somehow pick up all the pieces of a new kind of puzzle to be able to move forward.

The sequel, “Forever Thirteen,” continues this tale, but from the point of view of Rachel’s son, Joey. If you follow Joey, it is once again a paranormal fantasy/magical surrealism, but with a Young Adult edge. But once Joey gets past his own shock over losing his life, he becomes focused on his friend he left behind, a boy who goes downhill with the loss of his friend. Then it once again becomes more literary fiction, exploring the dynamics of his friend’s single parent household, the cruelty of kids at school, and the sucky, confusing age of thirteen.

P.S. Catch a sneak peek at the preview of Forever Thirteen here.

I wrote “Golf Balls, Eight Year Olds & Dual Paned Windows,” a collection of essays on single parenting, gathered from a column I used to write for the newspaper. It’s only the first of three I’ll have in this collection, as I’ll have a new collection of these essays coming out eventually, and end it with a full length memoir on our blended family (that may be out as early as next year).

I wrote a poetry book titled “Everything I Am Not Saying,” a collection of poetry that dapples in love, love’s loss, divorce, faith, single parenting, sadness, life…. It marks a time in my life when love escaped me, and the hurts were screaming to be written down on paper.

I have a rough draft, yet-to-be-named novel that I hope to have edited by the end of the year that tells the tale of two mothers that both suffer different kinds of tragedies that bring them together in one brief moment in time that changes them both forever.

Family, particularly the “underdog” family.  You know, single parent families, blended families, broken families, families trying to get their sh*t together… I think that’s my genre, or at least my frequency.

It’s hard for me to pinpoint myself as a certain kind of writer. I love writing. I love prose. I love writing that is so vivid, it paints a picture better than, well, a picture. I lean more toward literary fiction. But I’ve really enjoyed dappling in fantasy. I have another manuscript that could be classified as chick lit. I’d love to try my hand at a thriller or mystery. And I am so haunted by stuff that scares me, I think it might be kind of interesting to tackle horror.

But my passion is family – especially the kind that are overcoming struggle – because, as a former single mother and now a stepmom, that’s the biggest part of my life. It’s what I know. I know what it’s like to be in a marriage that ends. I know what it’s like to be the sole parent of two young kids. I know what it’s like to date as a single mother, and the messy side of blending a family. And I weave all of these themes into my books, taking bits and pieces of my life and intertwining them with fictional threads to create a brand new story about life, love, growth….

I write fiction. I also write real life. I am a poet, and an essay writer. I even dabble in Facebook statuses. 🙂

I am a writer.

The end.

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