An aside on genre-hate in creative writing programs

This started as an aside in my Tuesday’s 10 post, but when I previewed the post it took up an enormous amount of room and I realised that it really ought to be it’s own post as it really had nothing to do with making movies of books, but clearly I was passionate about it to have rabbited on so may words.

I don’t really get the “no genre” rule that Creative Writing programs have enacted to  ostensibly keep the work done artistic instead of commercial. I’ve taken studios at multiple colleges and they all seem to have this policy, and I think it’s counter productive and stupid. Shouldn’t it be no lazy fiction? No half-assed attempts, and not “no dragons and aliens?” The rules didn’t squash me since I’ve never been into sci-fi or fantasy books, which seem to be the number one victim of the genre rule, I suppose it’s hardest to cloak those in the garb of “legitimate non-genre” fiction to get it through the critique, but I fail to see how something like JRR Tolkein or CS Lewis is somehow less complex and critiquable than Melville or Henry Fielding. If serious fiction departments think they cut the tripe by declaring no genre fiction, they are incorrect, what they cut is diversity, which in the end makes for a very boring experience, because everyone is writing the same sort of thing they think the professor will deem serious enough. My favourite studio ever was the one where the professor told us she didn’t give a crap about the department’s genre rule and to write whatever you want as long as it’s worthy of making everyone hear it all semester while we work on it. (This was also my favourite studio because we did work on once piece either the whole semester or until we decided it was as good as it was going to get instead of bringing in something new every time you were up in the rotation, so not only did you get to see everyone’s work evolve, but you got a really good experience at the editing process. I really think less of the program I ended up getting my cw degree from because they did not use this method and in fact banned you from bringing the same work in more than once, except for the final half of senior studio, apparently you’re only supposed to revise if you’re a senior? I guess?) Okay end of rant, sorry, I have a lot of opinions about writing programs apparently. I’m just saying I’d rather read good fantasy stories than bad coming-to-terms-with-sexual-abuse-and-your-first-serious-relationship stories.


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