A letter to our local newspaper got me riled up. In short, the letter-writer proposed the giving of grants to established writers by the National Arts Council. Now, do you see the problem?
What happens to the beginning writers who need the leg-up/boost/whatever to get their writing careers going?
The writer also spoke about “literary” fiction and “Asian identity”, bugbears and pigeonholes I personally find restricting. One thing: there is also genre fiction. Another thing: we can go beyond “Asian identity” and write global. Why restrict ourselves to “Asian” and nothing else?
And most of all, why must Singaporean writers type-cast themselves as “Asian” writers?
Is it for marketing purposes? Is it for the white/gwailo US/UK/Aus crowds who want to see something “Asian” and “exotic”? Can Singaporean writers have a different voice?
So, what do all these say about genre fiction (or the lack of it)?
Oh boy, we have a mountain to climb. We have to struggle past “literary” to “Asian” to “exotic” to just plain “writer”. We have a lot of naysayers who claim that speculative fiction is not fiction, that what we write is not marketable/profitable. The independent presses like Ethos and Select are still producing – you guess it – literary fiction and “acceptable” fiction like children’s books. And a lot of poetry, mind you.
I refuse to allow genre fiction to fall by the wayside.
A call to arms to all Singaporean SPEC FIC writers: Write. Make Your Voice Heard. Our fiction is legitimate, valid and – dammit – liberating. Tell it to the publishers. Tell it to the people around us. WRITE WRITE WRITE.