Cambridge calls…

I’ve been asked by the editors of the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Creative Writing to contribute a chapter about creative writing in the genres. This is a very great honour, of course, but also a real pleasure for me to note that genre fiction is at last being recognised as worthy of academic consideration (and Cambridge University Press is obviously a very big deal in terms of shaping opinion in the academy). Do academics really have issues with genre fiction? Well, yes and no. Some genres fare better than others (crime is usually well regarded) but it is still seen as some kind of poor cousin to literary fiction (and when somebody can define that term for me adequately, give me a yell). For example, in a 2003 paper Judy Wilson wrote that genre fiction is “production line work” and “words poured into a mold” and says it has no place in a university creative writing course (this article has rather a tortured metaphor about weeds and how, even if they’re pretty, they need to be pulled out lest they ruin the more esteemed plants they surround). And in 2002, philosopher Nancy J. Holland created this list of adjectives to describe genre fiction: “low-brow”, “transparent”, “not artful”, “flat, without depth”, “the exact same thing.” Apparently, too, its* “cardinal rule” is a happy ending. Hey, Nancy! Go read a couple of my books. You might get a nasty shock.

So, the tide is slowly turning, thanks to the very clever editors of this new collection. Will keep you posted on developments, but I can’t see it being published before end of 2010.

*the easy way to remember which form of “its” to use is this: use its (no apostrophe) where you’d use his (which you’d never apostrophise)

9 thoughts on “Cambridge calls…

  1. “creative writing in the genres” … sounds like a travel guide, doesn’t it? If you turn left at the bayou, you will find the creative writing in the genres. Look, but don’t touch; they bite! At least you’ll be a witty tour guide 🙂

  2. i would love to watch judy wilson on a hike-in camping adventure. nature–organise it, sort it, by all means control it. i wonder if she hates romanticism, too.

    it’s an interesting hobby, this stereotyping. find what the bad examples have in common, and then make a sweeping generalisation about the rest of the general body. hm. sounds like the basis of racism, nationalism, and all other ugly isms.

  3. Congratulations on the invite. Have just got in after spending a weekend listening to romance writers & readers discussing their place in the genre universe (including an academic panel with pro-genre academics…2 from Brisbane) and how they fare….or not.

    Am amused it was a philosopher who came up with that list……..say a lot 😮

  4. Couldn’t help but feel the 1950s bleeding through Judy Wilson … genre fiction with no place in a university course… married women having no place in the workforce, perhaps? Like other segregations, taking time to realise both sides of the line are made of the same stuff and equally capable of achieving the desired results would seem to be the cardinal rule.

  5. Those poor literary snobs. All their literary learning and they still suffer limited imagination. Environment as character, anyone?

    And big congratulations, Kim, on the invite. We can’t wait!

  6. Kim,
    All I want to know is if you can suggest a good book of Russian fairy tales. Not a watered down version made palatable for delicate sensibilities – such as the one I had bought years ago to read to my daughter when she was little. Which one did you use for Rosa and the Veil of Gold? I am still reading it! Have ordered two others from my library and ordered Grimoire from Amazon….oops, is that a curse word? Well, know that I am lucking out because there was one used copy for $7.00, but all the rest were selling for a minor fortune, including one for over $117!!!

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