Never underestimate the power of a story – My thoughts on genre snobbery


Recently I had lunch with a fellow psychological thriller writer who was sharing the plot of their current work in progress.

‘That sounds brilliant,’ I said.

They shrugged. ‘It’s not going to change the world or anything, is it? I know I just write cheap entertainment.’

Immediately I pulled out my phone and shared an email I’d received a few days previously.

Dear Louise,

It’s 5am and I’ve just finished reading ‘The Sister.’ I LOVED it so much I thought I’d google you and when I read you were a fellow chronic pain sufferer, and you’d written much of your story throughout the night, I just had to reach out to you. I can so relate to the fact you sometimes use stories to get you through the night, I’m exactly the same but as a reader, not a writer. I’ve had a chronic condition for three years now and although I’d like to say I’m used to it, I’m not. During the day, my pain is manageable. Sometimes a friend drops in although their visits are becoming more and more infrequent as it becomes apparent I’m never going to ‘get better.’ The nights though are different. Long and lonely. I’m too uncomfortable to sleep for long periods and this is the time I feel sorry for myself and sometimes question what the point is to me anymore and my thoughts become really morbid. This is when I open a book and escape. If it weren’t for stories I honestly don’t know where I’d be right now. The characters become my friends. I become so invested in them I stop thinking about myself and worry about them instead. Their world becomes my world, and before I know it, the sun has risen and I’ve made it through another night. It’s such a talent to be able to draw a reader in and I want to thank you for writing books. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without them. Keep at it!

Genre snobbery exists, I know – as a crime writer I’ve experienced it. But I don’t think one genre is better than another. It’s such a privilege as an author to create a world that allows someone whose own world is full of sadness and pain, to escape if only for a short time.

If you’re writing a story and someone asks about it, please don’t say ‘it’s only…’ because you never know when your book might change a life, or save a life.

All fiction can lift and heal. Words can illuminate the dark.

16 thoughts on “Never underestimate the power of a story – My thoughts on genre snobbery

  1. Oh dear, i always start by saying I only write children’s books.
    I know that the children love the books (but not them buying). I know that I am keeping the bus memory alive, may not sell many (a tricky genre).
    but I suppose I mean that at the moment I haven’t yet written that novel or chapter book.
    a lot less words (ha ha not me in real life!)

  2. You are a moving and eloquent writer in fiction and fact. A brilliant and very thought provoking post xxx

  3. Wonderful post again. I remember when I wrote my first story for a friend who was going through a bad time in her marriage. She loved it and I felt so surprised and excited that I had “reached” through to her with my words. When this happens, it gives sense to all the hours spent thinking of ideas and transposing them to paper. And it cancels out the bad reviews too – although, even that is an indicator of how words can provoke reactions too. I enjoy your blog so much. Thanks! And I wish you a pain-free day. xx

  4. It’s the same with anything, really. Musicians who say Taylor Swift is not worthy, painters who dismiss abstracts, except Picasso (what??) , photographers who at first would look down on anyone with a digital camera, then anyone who didn’t use manual settings, now phone photographers. Art is art, like wine is wine. Appreciate what you love.

  5. Pingback: Links I’ve Enjoyed This Week – 14/04/19 – Secret Library Book Blog

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