The Unfamiliar Genre Project: Where to Begin

The Unfamiliar Genre Project focuses on what the name suggests: an unfamiliar genre. As a writer of fiction, I was terrified at the thought of having to reach into genres I’m uncomfortable with, such as poetry and it’s many sub-genres. I wasn’t aware of the amount of genres that are available for me to study. My mind had always been narrowed at the prospect of genres, limited to the general ones people think of when asked what the word “genre” means: romance, sci-fi, fantasy, non-fiction, poetry, etc. All of them are things I have grown to understand more as I’ve grown. Yet there are genres available to me I had never thought of, such as a photo-essay, a market report, a monologue, etc.

While I have heard of the more general genres before, I am interested in ones that I have never attempted to write such as science fiction or fantasy. Along with those, I am interested in writing memoirs considering the personal aspect that this project is very focused on my own personal opinions and beliefs. All three of those genres are completely outside of our comfort zones as I have almost zero practice with any of them. Much of the experiences I have had with these genres are through my own personal readings or readings assigned for school. Still, the interactions I have had with these genres are shallow at best. I have never given much thought as to what composes science fiction or fantasy as a genre. Nor have I thought about what makes them different from one another, as they are often lumped together. But there is a difference. Just as there is a difference between a true memoir and that of a work of fiction. Each of these genres demands something of the author creating them, and each are different.

The biggest part of this project surrounds the challenges I will face as I attempt to tackle a genre entirely new to me. When thinking of something being entirely new, the thought looms over me like a big scary beast. New means that I don’t have any knowledge—I feel vulnerable and alone. More importantly I don’t feel confident in my abilities as a writer. While I may feel comfortable writing about apocalyptic situations, I have no grounding in how to write a space battle, or how to create new and inventive species, or how to write about my own personal experiences without sounding pretentious. This project is going to challenge me to reach out and ask for help. It will challenge me to trust in my new works and understand that it isn’t the best work that I can put out. It will challenge me to take risks and understand that I am not always going to be comfortable, no matter how long I have been a writer.

This project is going to challenge me to reconstruct my own writing identity.

I will make sure I focus on my touchstone moment that is grounded in my childhood and the experiences within my favorite English classroom in high school. Those moments will allow me to remember that school is there to inspire children while also teaching them valuable life skills. This project will be my own discover of what I will be able to do to create a classroom that I would want to learn in. Specifically pulling from my touchstone moment that came from Mrs. Hall’s classroom in high school.

Overall, this project is going to help me expand my writing identity as well as bringing to light my own thoughts and ideas on what my responsibility will be as a future teacher. Hopefully, I will learn new things about myself and about the genre I chose to focus in on.

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