That’s not a typo in the title of this post. This term is the ingenious brainchild of my best friend, educator and activist for transgender rights, Talia C. Johnson. (Btw, her blog is brilliant, so follow it!)
Yesterday I finished the first draft of my third and final short story for the winter-spring anthology season. After re-reading what I’d written, I felt I faced a dilemma. Because I constantly straddle the comedy and sci-fi genres, I told Talia I didn’t know whether to submit to an anthology for comedy writers or science fiction writers. This was our Facebook chat:
Me> I can’t figure out whether I should send it to the humour anthology or the sci-fi anthology about optimism.
Talia> Short story?
Me> Yeah. The sci-fi people might think it’s not sci-fi enough and the humour people might say it’s too sci-fi.
Talia> Damn it! It’s genre non-binary!
Me> IT IS!
Me> OMIGOSH! This is a thing!
You must understand that Talia and I discuss gender topics almost daily, and she is my prime consultant for vetting gender-amazing characters and content in my writing. I’ll send her scenes from my book or short stories in a panic and say, “Is it OKAY???” (Yes, I’m that cishet person who is terrified of offending. Don’t worry; I’m growing.) My fear of screwing up gender-fabulous peeps never comes to fruition as Talia says, “It’s fine. It’s fine. Just have fun with it. It’s sci-fi. You’re not an asshat.”
But yesterday when she said my work was genrefluid, I nearly died of laughter. It’s probably the best way to describe a writer who isn’t fully immersed in one genre. My space opera, Life in the ‘Cosm, can fall into humour, romance, and sci-fi categories. No, it’s not ‘hard sci-fi’, as some put it, but to those who don’t read that genre, it feels sci-fi to them. One person saw the cover and said, “I don’t like sci-fi, and when I explained some of the content, they got all excited. (It also doesn’t hurt that the book also has a lot of cake in it. Desserts are the universal language of love.)
I’m not surprised that I’m fluid in this way. In my life I’m never really strapped to one thing. I’m not exclusively a writer. I’m also a musician and have been for decades. I’m mad about crafting and this has recently ventured into designing costumes for cosplay. I’m a techno geek and web developer. My friends are also diverse as all out. My Google playlist ranges from awesome to don’t judge me. My gender expression can be interpreted as fluid. And I don’t even have a favourite colour. All the colours are my favourite. I think colour, period, is my favourite.
I happen to like writing life experiences through aliens instead of humans. It ties into my personal theory that if life exists on other planets, there’s gotta be some poor slob who hates his job. With space opera, I can be serious and hilarious at the same time. I also get to create different races and choose their skin or fur or scales and colour them in like in a colouring book in my mind. I can have them fall in love or be clumsy in relationships. I don’t believe every ‘alien’ is a technology wiz or a military hero. Sometimes he’s a shy chubby guy who really likes cupcakes.
Being genrefluid might turn other authors’ noses up at me, or they might turn toward me in solidarity. Whatever others might think, I like writing what comes to my imagination and going on a journey with my characters. I don’t want to feel any constraints with genre. I want to have a blast.
So far this genre non-binary writing is my jam. Coincidentally it also includes gender non-binary peeps, because the spectrum of gender is a real thing, too, and I love going beyond the cisgender scope.
Anyway, if you’re fluid between genres, too, you have a fellow author who gets you, and will probably want to read your stuff. Writing to me is like cooking; it’s more appetising when you don’t follow the recipe.
Although I still can’t get my mind around the pineapple pizza thing. I mean, I truly can’t.
Cait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ’Cosm, a space opera about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague (Renaissance). Cait’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network blog.