Why Are So Many Writers Afraid of Transgressive Fiction?

I got an email from a writer the other day asking about transgressive fiction. She had seen my previous article, What It’s Like to Be a Female Author Who Writes Transgressive Fiction, and she was curious about a couple of things. Number one, she wanted to know how I fueled my ideas to write in this genre, and two, she wanted to know how I handled the reactions of my friends and family members. In particular, did any of my friends and family think I was just writing about my “twisted fantasies”?

This is something I’ve heard from many writers who are drawn to write transgressive fiction, but are also afraid to try it. Almost all transgressive fiction writers struggle when getting started in the genre, and there is an obvious reason for this. When you’re first starting out as a writer—no matter what genre you’re writing in—you tend not to know a whole lot of other writers and you haven’t built up any sort of reader base yet. So, your friends and family are kind of who you’re stuck with to use as your first beta audience. And if your friends and family don’t happen to enjoy the genre you write in, or worse, they’re completely unfamiliar with it and it actually is a big turn-off for them, then it’s easy to get all your writerly hopes and dreams crushed due to the assumption that the problem is that you’re not a good writer, not that you have the wrong audience.

So this happens to all new writers, to a degree. But I believe it’s especially hard for transgressive fiction writers because of the subject matter we deal with in our writing. You can go by the Wikipedia definition of “drugs, sexual activity, violence,” yada yada yada, but what it really comes down to is that transgressive fiction writers explore topics that make other people uncomfortable. And we do it to challenge readers. We do it to make people look at things within themselves that maybe they wouldn’t have otherwise looked at, and ask themselves questions that…

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