But, I don’t write [blank].
I think I’ve just had an epiphany about the writers who are clearly writing SF but say, “I don’t write SF.”
Allow me to explain. My last couple of sales have been stories which can be called horror to varying degrees. Now if you ask me what I’ve written, I’ll tell you that I write SF and Fantasy. The word “horror” will not cross my lips, not because I’m ashamed, but because I don’t think about it because that’s really not what I’m focused on writing. I was having this conversation and someone said, “You should join HWA.”
I laughed and said, “I’m not a horror writer…”
Except, I sort of am, at least as much as I’m an SF or a fantasy writer. But the difference for me is that I don’t read horror. It scares me. No joke. I like stories that make me all weepy, but not the ones that make me afraid to turn off the lights.
So, the horror stories that I write are ones that deal with stuff I want to read which tend to be, um, love stories. Yeah, I know… there’s a little incongruity there. That said, these are stories in which I do really, really bad things to people and, with the stories for Apex, am deliberately trying to write visceral horror. But when I’m doing it, I’m also trying to make sure that every bad thing that happens to my character reflects on her and on her relationships. At the end, I want you to know more about the character than you did at the beginning, because that’s the kind of story I like reading.
I know that I am writing horror, but I don’t think of myself as a horror writer.
Which makes me think that the people who say, “But I don’t write sci-fi,” really mean, “but I don’t read sci-fi.” Whatever SF tropes and tools show up in their stories, that’s part of the toolbox that they are using to tell the kinds of stories they are interested in. So, yeah, I’ll bite. They aren’t writing SF. When they read their own stories, they aren’t reading SF either.
But that doesn’t mean you or I aren’t reading SF when we read the same story.