I told this story on my blog about three weeks ago, but it was received well and it seems relevant to this blog about the hardships of genre writers.
About twenty years ago, I was seeking a writing group and was encouraged to go along to my local writers' circle by an acquaintance of mine who was a member. She was a lady in her 60s. I, at the time, was in my early 20s. That should have given me a clue, in hindsight, but I was yearning to belong to a writing group so I thought I would give it a go.
I tagged along to their meeting, in the local library. The first thing that struck me was that I was the youngest person there. By about thirty years.
The meeting got underway, and it became evident to me that everyone else in the group wrote radio plays, historical romance, and the kind of twee short stories that are published in certain women’s magazines. Some of the writers had forged quite successful careers for themselves, but I hadn’t heard of any of them. That should have been my second clue.
Everyone was initially terribly enthusiastic and very friendly, all saying how nice it was to see a young person in their midst, and they were in need of new blood, and so on. Then they asked me what I wrote.
“Horror”, I said cheerfully.
The room went silent. Noticeably. Then someone piped up nervously, “oh dear. We’ve never had one of THOSE before.”
Everyone gave me a wide berth for the rest of the evening, casting nervous glances in my direction and pointedly avoiding my eye. I began to think that perhaps everyone in the room was suffering from a collective deafness. Had they misheard me? When I said I was a horror writer, had they perhaps heard “I have leprosy” instead?
Suffice to say that was the one and only meeting I attended. Granted, I was into fairly sick horror in those days (I have mellowed somewhat with age). It didn’t take me long to work out that it would be a mistake to show this group any of my writing. I did not want to be responsible for the death by heart failure of the entire membership of the writing circle.
But I did learn that day that genre writers are often considered the social outcasts of the writing world. Now, at least, I know others. We weirdos need to stick together.