Yeah, 1984 and Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451 and The Giver. After I saw the movie A Clockwork Orange with my brother when I was 19, I puked on the sidewalk outside the theater. After reading On the Beach, I woke up frightened for weeks I was so affected by the ending of the world.
So dytopian novels are not my genre of choice. Probably why I am the only person alive who hasn’t read the The Hunger Games books (or at least seen the movies).
But when you join a writing group, you make a commitment, and I am nothing if not about honoring my commitments. (OK, all honesty? I stop reading a book if after 30 pages, I believe could leave it on a bus without moving heaven and earth to retrieve it. That’s the test)
So here I am with my first novel to critique in my new writing group, and it’s a dytopian world of quarreling Buddhist-ish monks.
The author, knowing I am not her target audience, asked if I was finding it hard going.
“The first 30 pages I read out of respect for you,” I told her. “After that I was ok.” And I was. Because good writing grabs you. I discovered that it wasn’t that I didn’t like the genre > I just don’t like being depressed.
Then I remembered The City and The City and Embassytown, two books about dystopian worlds that remain at the top of my list for all time favorites and the holy grail to my writing pursuits.
In part 2, I will tell you how I managed to separate my dytopian anxiety from my role in the writers group.