How writing my thesis on dystopias almost ruined the genre for me – Tiny Reads
Once upon a time, I had a brilliant idea : the best way to make my French/Literature degree useful, and also to buy myself time to decide what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, was to get a Master’s degree. It meant I had to write a thesis/dissertation, however you translate it to (we call it a “mémoire” in France). Of course, my brilliant, younger self already knew what this was about : she had to pick a theme/genre/whatever that really interested her, because she would spend a lot of time talking, reading, writing about it. And, if few things had been written on the subject, well, the better. She chose to base her corpus on dystopias.
I’m very resentful towards my younger self.
I had read so many dystopias before, and not just the YA-type, and I loved this genre so much, we had touched on the theme at some point during my degree. It’s not something I chose out of the blue. It was so fascinating to see an author’s twisted vision of the future, how they took elements of the present and worked them to the extreme. But, turns out, you can have too much of good thing.
I didn’t touch a dystopian story for a while after that. I had war flashbacks : typing frantically on Word so I could meet the deadlines, screaming at my books (“But, what did you mean by that ?!”), rereading the same parts over and over just to be sure I wasn’t missing anything, that what I took out of it wasn’t too farfetched either (*laughs nervously* “Surely, I’m not the only who can see that, right ?”) … I was overdosing on dystopia. It was beyond your usual genre-related hangover.
What cured me ? Time, lots and lots of time. It’s like grieving, you know. You have to let your mind process that it’s over, behind you, and that you have to move forward. And when I figured it was safe for me to dip my toes in again, I went in, slowly, carefully. I had pushed off reading Allegiant, because I hadn’t been ready to go back yet. And, even then, it took me over a year to start reading dystopias again.
I’m not approaching dystopias with caution anymore. Now, dystopias are like old friends : “Look at all we’ve been through, mate”, “Yep, crazy stuff … Remember that time you threatened to rip Brave New World to pieces ? Good times …”. This genre has seen me both at my best and at my worst, and there’s a familiarity now. You know how really close friends, friends who’ve known each other for a long time, are always more likely to insult each other, but like, in a fond way ? That’s sort of me and dystopias.
Lesson of the story (throwing my little two cents) : if you feel like you’ll never be able to read a genre again because you overdosed on it, just take a step back, take the time to heal and try again when you’re ready. Time heals all wounds.
What about you ? Which genre have you become allergic to ? Any genre you avoided for a long time before going back to it ?