We have to present a craft essay in our fiction workshop, and mine is on the very last day. All semester, I’ve waffled on whether to do “Vulgar Art” by Orson Scott Card or something more staid and mainstream. Last week, I had a burst of courage, decided on the Card essay, and assigned everyone to read a James Tiptree Jr. story to use as a discussion piece for the essay. Today, three days before the presentation, I’ve chickened out and started scrambling to find another essay that I can teach around that story, because people are going to be far enough outside their comfort zones with a science fiction story without my daring to suggest that literary fiction is a genre like any other, and just as hidebound in conventions as romance and SFF are.
I knew what I was signing up for when I came here. I knew it was going to be three years of not writing/reading/discussing SFF (at least not in public), but I was willing to put up with that because there was so much I wanted to learn here. But days like this, I just want to tell these people to get their heads out of their asses. Litfic is just as rule-bound and formulaic as any other genre. If they really weren’t playing a game with such strict rules, they wouldn’t feel the need to jump all over anyone who dares put a foot out of line.