Most writers have to write. The stories sing through our bones and steal our sleep. I get that part.
What I want to know is, why do you write in the genre the you write?
For me, I think it’s because I’m trying to gain a sense of self.
When I’m talking to “most people,” I tell them I write fiction. When I’m talking to other writers, or people I know to read broadly, I’ll more accurately say that I write fantasy. I got interested in the genre when I was very young and eager to play pretend. I always wanted to be Robin Hood, never Marian. I played at being heroic Red Sonja or ruthless Queen Gedren. Later, I saw my little girl face reflected in the childlike vampire Claudia. A few years after that, Xena came around. I saw my heroes surrounded by forests, swords, and in some cases, magic.
My core beliefs and morals came from stories. It’s because of heroic stories that I value justice, courage, accountability, and friendship. I couldn’t get interested in a story unless it centered on a hero who looked like me. These women shaped my self-image. I believed in them, and wanted to become someone I could believe in.
As an adult, I continue to write fantasy because fantasy makes me angry. I read more broadly now, and see problems I didn’t recognize as a kid. When boys play pretend, there are hundreds and hundreds of heroes, (in dozens and dozens of re-incarnations) to choose from. I could only learn at the feet of three: Red Sonja, Claudia, and Xena.
Arwen and Eowyn weren’t enough. Arya Stark and Cersei Lannister weren’t enough. Monza Murcatto and Brienne of Tarth are still not enough, because enough people thought that the DC Reboot was a good idea to see it launched. They’re not enough, because there are far more women in stories who rose to power because of trauma than because of pursuing their destiny. They’re not enough, because the SFWA is still fighting over inclusiveness and sexism. We need more stories, until we have so many that everyone can pick and choose what resonates with them; without feeling like they were denied a slice of the pie.
There’s no amount of burning or boycotting that will change the industry. We have to keep writing — keep striving for better — until everyone can see heroes, villains, romances and all the rest reflecting their own face back at them. That’s the only way to fix it.
Why do you write what you write?
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
— George Bernard Shaw
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
― Richard Buckminster Fuller