True Allegiance

In yesterday’s blog I eluded to my “switch” from writing literary fiction to writing within a certain genre. This was not a switch I made with much grace. That is, I knew I wanted to write the story that would place me in this genre, but I had a long history with literary fiction, and the idea of writing outside of it, at least within the mind of the publishing world, left me in the impossible position of having to justify (in this case to myself) my desire to write what I most wanted to write.

When I discovered what we call literature it was like a life preserver. Here were men and women writing about what I was thinking about; here were men and women saying what seemed to me to be the truth that everyone thought but no one spoke. I was not alone after all.

But even literature, the great democracy of publishing, has it’s entry rules, and one of those rules—at the moment at least—is that you cannot write about kings and queens and trolls. I have always loved kings and queens and trolls, and because I am currently telling stories about them, I am out. So be it.

Of course, I have not switched anything. That the publishing world believes differently is irrelevant. My only allegiance is to the source of the stories I wish to tell. Woe betide the writer who reaches as deeply as he can into this well and rejects what he finds because of what it looks like. This is rejecting life itself.

True literature, by which I mean any story or poem that invites you more deeply into the best part of yourself, is not a country club. There is no guardian at the gate of love. All are welcome. Here we see the absurdity of all prejudice. Prejudice is the belief that love has a prescribed shape or color, that somehow we will be relieved from the burden of merely feeling it, that we must only recognize it by its form.

Love is forever known and forever surprising, dwelling as it does equally within the soprano and the slug. What each of us loves most is limited, a limitation that allows us to function within a world of infinite variety, but love – like life – defies this containment. The genres and the categories and the bookshelves are for our convenience alone. Love, meanwhile, resides above these borders, like the earth upon which we draw our nations’ boundaries, and will be there still to guide us when we are alone, a country of one in search of like souls.

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