Thank you for inviting me to be RTG’s first Guest Blogger. Congrats on the new blog! I am a novelist and poet. Yet I also write short fiction (like my recently published A Promise). I blipped onto the romance radar last year when my debut novel, The Poet’s Secret, was nominated for the 2010 RWA Golden Heart award. And yes, I was the only guy nominated last year. But now for my dark confession -- at least for purposes of today’s blog, that is. I’m not sure The Poet’s Secret is a “romance.” Blasphemy? Read on . . .
The Webster’s Dictionary cramped into my bookcase defines literature to be “writings having excellent form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest.” The concept of permanent or universal interest captivates me. Literature documents our very humanity. Diving into that ocean can be daunting. One might just drown. Perhaps it’s madness to even undertake such an effort.For me though, there was no choice. It was survival. If you visit my website: www.kennethzak.com I explain it in more detail,
but a few years back I was sequestered alone, half-way around the world from my home, and recovering from a life, and a relationship, that had left me hollow, or at least I thought at the time. But it turned out words kept flowing out of me, first in raw, chunky verse that faintly resembled poetry and then in images and scenes that bore an even fainter resemblance to a novel. I had never done anything like that before, but at the time it was the only existence that made any sense.
Now I write not just to survive, but to explore, to celebrate, to heal, to change everything forever, and to dream. I write to remove the barriers and filters we often place between ourselves, both on the page and off. Somehow, writing helps me approach my truest self. When it works, it’s a high akin to surfing the perfect wave. I would love to hear why you are paddling around in this ocean of literature? Why do you write?
To Genre or Not to Genre, That is the Question
Now, if that isn’t enough meandering romanticism and you are still with me, a few words about the wonderful world of genres. I didn’t sit down to write the great romance, or even a great romance, okay, maybe not even a romance. I just started writing, with all my human and writerly imperfections flowing from my fingertips onto the page.
Folks, may whatever higher power you worship (or not) bless them, eventually took an interest and wanted to know what was in that flotsam I was attempting to launch upon the hallowed sea of literature. Well, the first lifeboat I clung to was the relatively new-fangled genre “upmarket fiction.” The Poet’s Secret is somewhere between commercial and literary fiction. Whew, that was easy, right? Wrong. Turns out there are strong romantic elements, magical realism, suspense, mystery, mysticism, poetry, life, death, the afterlife and after-death, Aztec rituals, Cajun cookin’, sea turtles, an El Salvadoran street dog, a bit of voodoo, nickernuts, sunken treasure, and, ultimately, the secret to immortality. But not one darn vampire or alien. All painted with the brush of an Impressionist. I guess that’s my genre.
How about you? Have you ever felt uncertain about into which neat little box your story fits? I’d love to hear about it.