Typecasting a writer: folly or not?

pigeonholed.expertise

“Don’t classify me, read me. I’m a writer, not a genre.” 
― Carlos Fuentes

In one of my earlier blogs (New Year’s Revelation No. 5, “Never, Never Assume!”), I wrote about the unfortunate common practice of making assumptions ― about people or situations.  So many of us, whether intentionally or unintentionally, fall into that trap – to our detriment.  In so doing, we run the risk of making erroneous assumptions (because we are not aware of all the mitigating factors) and rush to judgment, perhaps too quickly.  The same applies to pigeon holing or typecasting someone.

In the acting world, for example, actors are often typecast as comedic, dramatic, character, leading role, action hero, and so on.  Yet many actors have proven – time and time again – that they can seamlessly apply their acting talent and skills to any genre. And when they do this, we are always surprised (yet delighted).  Why are we surprised? The answer, of course, is that we made an erroneous assumption. Yes, Robert De Niro has played some seriously intense and dramatic roles.  However, as “Vitti” in Analyze This and Analyze That (opposite Billy Crystal), De Niro had me rolling on the floor, laughing.

The same applies to writing.  Just because a writer publishes a book in one genre, this does not mean he or she is incapable of writing in a different voice, for a variety of target audiences, or in multiple genres.

As for myself, I have multiple book projects in the works.  Many are non-fiction.  Casualties of the (Recession) Depression is a political and economic commentary and collection of real-life vignettes.   This does not mean that the only genre I write is non-fiction editorial.  I write fiction, as well as industry-specific pieces and scripts for documentaries. 

Whether one is a writer or a photographer, an actor or an artist ― the fact is, we are complex and multi-faceted.  Labels are very limiting and should not be assigned so readily.

If we only focus our eyes on the moon, we may miss the beauty of the rest of the galaxy.

Image via trivworks.com.

What is unique about the book, Casualties of the (Recession) Depression?

Originally, I intended to write a collection of short stories, based on the real life accounts of middle-class men and women who had been (and who continue to be) adversely affected by this prolonged economic downturn.

After learning about all their tribulations and triumphs, I decided that their stories would have more impact if portrayed in short vignettes or scenes.  These snapshots in words capture the essence (and the rawness) of their experiences.  As a reader, you get a feel for what it’s like to ― as Atticus Finch (in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird) says ― “climb into his skin and walk around in it.”  In doing so, the reader may identify with/relate to or gain insight from their experiences, as they navigate through the spectrum of emotions ― shock, sorrow, despair, relief, joy, pride, and so on.  

The vignettes present the reader with a canvas of scenes ranging from sweet-to-bittersweet-to-bitter, from the manic uncertainty of not knowing what to do, to the tenacious pursuit of a “Plan B” … and, of course, emphasizing the point that humor, hope and faith often help to smooth out the kinks and put things in perspective.

Once the vignettes were written, I realized that it was necessary for me to clearly explain my thesis that this overextended economic downturn is a depression, and not a recession. In doing so, I categorized the vignettes by year – from 2006 to the first quarter of 2013. I then wrote an introduction to each of the years, thereby setting the historical, socio-economic and political scene (with economic and political commentary) ― to give the reader context.

I believe that the book is unique because it uses vignettes (rather than short stories) and these vignettes are reinforced by the commentary which presents the context, issues, and possible solutions.

In the second-to-last paragraph of my Conclusions, I write:

“It is not my intention to point fingers at any political leader or party. Nor am I interested in engaging in an ideological battle of red versus blue (or vice versa).  I am, however, raising an eyebrow at the seemingly dismissive attitude that our politicians and economists have towards the ongoing severity of this economic “trough” and, by association, the degenerative effects on the countries largest demographic – the middle class. The bottom line is:  if there are middle-class Americans who continue to experience economic hardship, then the problem still exists. If they are not in the process of recovering, then we are not “in a recovery.”

Casualties of the (Recession) Depression is not an economic treatise or a doctoral dissertation.  It is a very evocative, down-to-earth, mince-no-words commentary/editorial which simply seeks to highlight the human condition as relates to the economic crisis that, like a very bad cough, has proven difficult to shake off.

I welcome your feedback, with thanks.

― Heather Joan Marinos

(Visit:  http://heatherjoanmarinos.com )

Written Content Copyright © 2013 by Heather Joan Marinos. All Rights Reserved.