It’s All About Choice

As Indie authors we have a lot of responsibilities, listing exactly what those responsibilities are could be the subject of an entire article; however, what I’m going to be looking at, on this occasion, is just one of the aspects that we, as independent authors, make decisions about that we might not be able to if we were taking the traditional route.

We, as individuals, have our own unique way of seeing things, and that distinctive view is generally fashioned by not only our journey through life, but also the way in which we have, individually, reacted to the various stimuli along the way. Due to my particular view of this reality I tend to use certain analogies, of which many of you may now be familiar.

I began my martial arts training, initially, by learning how to box; quite a narrow aspect of fighting when you think about it: perfecting the use of two relatively small points of the body that, should verbal negotiations fail, might be used in self defence. Learning to use their fists, some people are quite happy having just that feature of the martial arts in their life; whether taking it to, what might be termed, mastery or not.

The next martial feature that came into my life was learning to defend myself under more serious conditions, in close combat situations, where my very life would be in immediate danger. Many people, after undergoing intense periods of this kind of training, are happy enough to have had the training and never feel the need to extend it or, in most cases, even continue the training.

I then became involved in a classical martial art: this can be likened, perhaps, to someone who has been involved in rock ‘n’ roll dancing, jazz ballet or street dancing, and who then takes up classical ballet training. The downside of belonging to one of the classical arts is that, generally, you are pretty much expected to stay within its confines; the cloistered opinion being that outside of the classics is not real martial arts. When I began to move outside of those boundaries and was cautioned, cutting ties, I became an independent.

I know people who only read literary fiction and consider, so called, genre fiction to be not real literature, and somehow beneath them. There are authors of literary fiction who think similarly.

I know people who read nothing but fantasy, or sci-fi, or chic-lit or … you get my drift? Choices; they are all just choices. Some authors write what they write because that’s what they enjoy reading. Some authors find a niche, acquire a following, and choose to stay where it’s comfortable, or profitable, but the point I’m making is, when it comes right down to it, if you are an indie author, it’s all about choice.

My reading is heterogeneous and, in fiction alone, includes everything from literary fiction to adventure thriller/sci-fi and everything in between; also a wide-ranging mix of nonfiction. I truly delight in writing in all the genres I enjoy reading.

My point here, in relation to writing and genre, is that it is all just a matter of choice. Fighters fight, writers write; whether a writer stays within a particular genre or not – if he or she is an indie at least – it’s all about choice!

Author: T.D. McKinnon

Scottish author T.D.McKinnon ‘Survived the Battleground of Childhood’ in the coal mining communities of Scotland and England before joining the British Parachute Regiment at fifteen where he remained for five years. He has trained in the martial arts for most of his life and had five Karate schools in Scotland before immigrating to Australia. He writes across several genres and has completed five books that are all available as eBooks. He lives in Tasmania, Australia with his wife. Learn more about T.D.McKinnon at his website and Amazon author page.

15 thoughts on “It’s All About Choice”

  1. Excellent post. My choice is to write what comes into my head, and genre doesn’t matter. Just a look at my Az author page probably leaves folks scratching their heads, but it’s there, all of it, and it all fell out of my brain because it had to. If it didn’t, I think my brain would explode.

  2. Good morning T.D. I love this post. There seems to be so much bickering going on over issues about genre lately. I say write and read what brings you joy. Btw, have you ever heard of Nigerian fighting cuffs in your martial arts background? I researched ancient weaponry for one of my books and of course couldn’t resist including them. I know that they are used in a martial arts type of fighting, and their composition.The rest is pure imagination.

  3. Great post, T.D. I see genre as having a single purpose, a means of identifying at a relatively high level what a book is like. If something is labeled romance, chick-lit, thriller, or sci-fi, as a reader you have an idea what you’re getting. This matters if your book needs to be shelved in a B&M bookstore. In many ways, it is a marketing tool that isn’t needed as much in the ebook world. (Who hasn’t heard stories of at least one author whose book couldn’t find a home with a traditional publisher because, although the agents and editors said it was a great read, it didn’t fit cleanly in a genre.)

    I think genre still has a purpose for reviewers or readers to describe the book, but those that are hard to nail down and require more caveats and descriptions, calling it a little of this and a little of that, are often the most enjoyable reads, specifically because they’re different. (I’ve found I feel the same about music, often preferring the music, usually by independent musicians, that blends aspects of multiple genres.)

  4. Good point, and choices doesn’t just stop there; for me, this raised another issue; writers sticking to one genre because it’s expected that they should fit snugly into their respective peg holes as old school mainstream publishing might’ve dictated. Or are they anymore?

    As you say, choices can be the subject of an entire article, but suffice it to say here, I would hope that the mindset of the reader might be adjusting in this new world of publishing; coming to accept that a writer that they’ve enjoyed might actually have many sides to them, and therefore it IS their choice whether or not to read the other genres they’ve written in, instead of us writers, apparently, needing to use pseudonyms when SOME of us don’t really want to.

    It’s long since bothered me when I’ve been asked ‘my genre’ as if I’m a one trick pony, when in actual fact I’m a multifaceted person (and writer) with diverse life experiences and therefore, works in progress, all written according to which ‘personality’ has awoken within me. And something I’ve tried to market myself as, light-heartedly testing the water; stating on my personal blog that I’m a bit of a ‘Sybil’.

    I’m what I call a ‘free-fall’ writer; don’t know what’s going to appear until the parachute opens and wafts me across the horizons of many ‘plains’, and when it does, it will be MY name that lands regardless of genre. Precarious? Perhaps for now, but I can’t help but think that the habits of, perhaps, a brainwashed society, might just be changing too in this digital age, information abundant, not necessarily accepting being ‘told’ what to like or expect by mainstream anymore – and, hopefully, including not coming to expect the same old from those writers who choose to write across genres either. Choice, after all, is in itself a choice.

    1. Nope… magic realism is… well… real… really; I mean… the word ‘Muggle’, believe it or not, is now in the Oxford dictionary, after all! 🙁

  5. Hi T.D.,
    I really like this post.
    I have spent a great deal of time reading and observing the genre prejudices. To me, a book is either written well or not. I agree with Al that genre categories are helpful to shelve books at Barnes and Noble, and not much more.
    I think martial arts and ballet instill a discipline and a quest for perfection that, if handled properly, flow naturally into other arts. Being an indie has given me the choices of which you write. I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

  6. Hi guys,

    As usual, I’m unable to use the individual reply buttons so I’ll do it all from here.

    I know exactly what you mean, Kathy, me too. Just one of the reasons I’m an Indie and loving it! Thanks for dropping by, Kathy. And by the way, thank you for your understanding words of advice on social media.

    You are so right, Aron: about joy; for writers obviously, but not just for writers. If more people conducted their lives in a like manner the world would be a happier place. About the ‘Nigerian fighting cuffs’, I thought I at least knew of every form, if not every aspect, formal and informal, of the martial arts – having studied them for more than half a century – but that’s a new one on me. I’ll have to do some research. Thanks for dropping by, Aron.

    Exactly, PA, that’s all I’m saying really. Thanks for dropping by.

    You are so right, Al, genres are fine as descriptors, but let’s not put too much importance on them and make them labels or pidgin holes. And let’s certainly not make them an excuse for snobbery. Once upon a long time ago, I approached an agent, mistakenly saying that I wrote in several genres; this agent’s response was, “Oh… I don’t represent genre writers!”

    Absolutely, SP! Just one of the great advantages of being an Indie is self-determination in regard to what, where and when, in genre terms. ‘Indies of the world unite’, oh wait… isn’t that our FEM’s (Fearless Evil Mastermind) rallying slogan. Thanks for dropping by, fellow ‘Expat’; now there’s another label.

    Right, Lynne, and we shouldn’t really even accept it as a label – I like the term descriptor. I mean if you like the descriptor and want to use it as a label, that’s fine: choice you see! Thanks for dropping by Lynne.

    Buddhist Noir, Kat? That’s a term I’m not familiar with. Thanks for dropping by, Kat.

    Indeed, Brian, precisely so. Thanks for dropping by.

    Hi Lois, it seems we are all of a similar mind at IU in regards to genre and what part it should play in the overall scheme of things; in fact it appears to be one of our most unifying aspects. And yes, the classical aspect of any art form gives you a foundation of discipline which should then help you recognise when something is done well. Thanks for dropping by Lois.

  7. As always – a great post. One of the things I love most about being an indie author, is all the choices I get to make. I love reading a variety of genre, therefore I love writing a variety. I feel very lucky to be able to do that 🙂

  8. Hi T.D. The next time I am at the library, I’ll look for the book where I found the fighting cuffs. It had a detailed picture. I’ll copy it and post it on my blog. You can have a look see. I was fascinated by them. Wide iron cuff with a protrusion that appeared to be used for stabbing or slicing??? Ouch!

  9. lol – I like reading the ‘classics’ but I love sci-fi, so I try to write the kind of sci-fi I love /the most/. I don’t think my writing comes close to my aims but everyone has to have a goal in life. 🙂

Comments are closed.