Exploring Genrelific® Situations

Words come to me out of the blue as inventions. For example, I used the word “fantabulous,” for the first time to my students in 1997 without realizing that someone else had documented its use in 1957. I invent words continuously and use them personally–blended words, unique words, and so on, but I never venture to clamor for the general public to herald their birth until now.

This morning, as I brewed my herbal tea and pondered over the topic for today’s blog, I sought to take stock of my versatility in the literary realm. I am a writer of many genres, meaning that I am prolific in those genres. In search of the ONE word that would capture my uniqueness and brand me at the same time, I (Frances Ohanenye) invented “genrelific” on February 7, 2012.

I went to the Lexico Publishing Company and to Merriam-Webster to find out how I can add my newly coined word into their respective dictionaries. In summation, usage is the passport for inclusion into that privileged class. Therefore, I encourage everyone to begin to use the word “genrelific.” The more people who use it, the higher the chance of my word being included in any dictionary. I searched the internet, and it does not exist.

For example, you could say, “My friend, Frances Ohanenye, is very genrelific. She writes across many genres.” Or, “My brother is a genrelific reader and does not restrict himself to one genre.”

I admit that my motive may seem self-serving for now, but ultimately, my goal is for the general reading public to describe writers who cross the boundaries of the literary world with one word instead of with a string of wordy morsels. “Genrelific” captures the literati, that group of authors, writers, and other people involved with literature and the arts.

I am realistic and patient. The process of inclusion takes weeks, months, and even years. I understand. I am not myopic at all either. I see the far-reaching use of the word, genrelific. We speak of types of art, movies/cinematography, music, and wherever categories and sub-categories exist within an industry. The applicability of the word is limitless.

To establish ownership of my coined word for evidentiary purpose, I took the liberty of corresponding with those two companies to queue myself on their waiting list and introduce my brainchild as well. Now, let us get back to my “genrelific” self. I am prolific in these genres: children’s, young adult (YA), mystery, science fiction, short story, poetry, religious/inspirational, and adult/realistic/women’s. I want to delve into creating plays/drama, mythology, romance, fairytale, historical fiction, folktale–which my father used to tell us a lot of, and others.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson‘s “Antecedent Genre as Rhetorical Constraint” declares that rhetorical situation determines discourse as well as antecedent genres. I admire Jamieson’s succinctness because past definitions of genres still control our present analysis, appreciation, and emulation. “Antecedent genres are genres of the past used as a basis to shape and form current rhetorical responses.”

I have penned at least one volume in each of the nine genres listed above, and some genres can boast of at least eight creations in my literary repertoire. I have many ideas marinating for many more explorations within each of the types of literature in which I have traveled.

That I have not dabbled into the romance genre purely as a writer is not for lack of desire; no pun intended. The muse has not called me yet. To be a writer, one must first be a reader. I devoured at least 100 of Barbara Cartland’s romance novels and by other authors, enough to inspire me despite myself.

I consumed at least 70 of René Brabazon Lodge Alan Raymond’s, (famously and lovingly known as James Hadley Chase) crime fiction novels, not to mention many from Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, Ian Fleming (the creator of James Bond), and several more.

I read and memorized texts of classic novels (Charles Dickens, Jonathan Swift, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Austen, Horatio Alger, Charlotte Bronte, Guy de Maupassant, Nathaniel Hawthorne, David Henry Thoreau) and William Shakespeare’s dramas, the springboard for my rapture with literature.

I nourished my soul with Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Hilaire Belloc, Kofi Awoonor, and other poignant authors and poets. As a matter of fact, one year, I read at least 180 novels, not teacher-mandated readings, required texts, or textbooks, simply self-chosen glorious novels.

Now I write furiously. I write many genres and can write all genres. However, my creation relies on inspiration cascading like confetti rather than by a self-inflicted time-table. Who knows, when the inspiration floods my brain for romance novels, I will create that genre as a full bloom or any other genre my mind chooses to birth.

The type of literature into which I will never seek membership is horror. The simple reason is that I do not wish to stain or sell my soul because I may not be able to buy it back or get it back from the dark forces that inhabit that sphere. Superstitious? May be, but I have read both Steven King and Edgar Allan Poe, and they both scared the living daylights out of me and my house.

Venturing into many genres allows me to dabble into unrestricted spheres. I perceive myself as a living testimony of Richard Coe’s words when he said that “tyranny of genre” constrains individual creativity (Coe 188). Therefore, I allow myself to mingle within genres, cross their boundaries, shake hands with their inhabitants, and dine luxuriously among them.

In my mystery novels, romance abounds. In one YA novel, religion trumpets out of the mouths of youths like the Sermon on the Mount, and religious-infused allusions thrive. In my science fiction short story, realism and fiction fight for supremacy, but because I want it classified as a science fiction endeavor, that genre triumphs. As Amy Devitt states, “A genre is named because of its formal markers” (Devitt 10), and I wanted that story formally marked as a science fiction.

If I have failed to make it known before, unique words feed my brain like food and my brain feeds me unique words. Today will go down in famousness as the birthday of the word, “genrelific,” another synergy for the literary world.

©2012Genrelific by FrancesOhanenye

Would You Rather Run Toward or Away From?

by Frances Ohanenye

Without much thought invested in the question, the initial and spontaneous response from some people would be to say that they would rather run toward than away from. Others would prefer to run away from rather than toward.  The second and paramount question then becomes the focus or the purpose of the running, the end, the destination.

Why you are running would determine whether you would like to run toward something or someone or away from that someone or that something.  Hopefully, you will not be like Forest Gump (in Forest Gump) and keep running for days, weeks, months, and years without any purpose or destination.  “Ah just felt like runnin,” Forest said to the reporter.

Since Forest had no destination in mind, I guess in trying to help him determine whether he was running toward or away from, I would have to surmise that he was running away from pain: the death of his mother and the pain caused by Jenny, the one woman he loved from childhood, who seemed oblivious of the intensity and duration of the affection and devotion.  

Regardless, several research endeavors have been conducted by numerous writers who have sifted through the numerous reasons we run and should continue running.  In “Designed for Running – How People Are Made to Run,” Andy Johns posted on January 7, 2009, the reasons we humans are made to run. 

“Compared to several other primates, humans have much longer legs…  Just like chimps and other primates have long, powerful arms for climbing, humans have long, powerful legs for running.”

Whether we are running away from a real and physical or an imagined danger or toward the open arms of a beloved, there are correct ways to run.  Most of those ways involve the Achilles tendon, that “massive and incredibly powerful tendon that absorbs and releases enormous amounts of energy during running. Like a spring, the Achilles propels us upwards and forwards while running…” Johns continued.

 There is no disputing that we should run, must run when in danger, suffused with love and joy, and to prolong life.  Every intelligent person knows the numerous health rewards and other reasons for running. 

“It (running) helps ensure the efficient flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body, things that are proven to help to decrease the risk of a heart attack,” Christine Luff stated in About.com, October 08, 2009.

Having established the importance of running and whether we should run toward or away from someone or something, there is one man who certainly knows how to run and who looks incredibly sexy doing it, no matter which side he presents to me, I mean, the viewers, front view or back side.

Keanus Reaves is the sexiest runner alive! Having watched him in several movies, I can not help but wonder how he learned to run like that.  Did he practice it in front of a mirror until he had it perfected?  Did he have a coach who showed him how to place one leg in front of the other for that heart racing look?  Or did it come naturally to him over the years, like the gymnast or the swimmer who possesses enviable biceps?  This and other questions chase themselves in my mind as I stare at the screen mesmerized. 

Granted, I have always liked Keanu Reaves, and even though I have read that he had been recognized as a full-blown sex symbol (MTV’s “Most Desirable Male” award in 1992), the complete import of that title and his sexiness really did not cause too much of a heart motion in me until I saw him running every time I turned around in The Replacements, as a fill-in football player, and I was in Keanu heaven!  Ever since then, I hear and see my heart beating loudly and being fully inflated like Jim Carey’s famous one in The Mask

Later on in The Lake House (their second movie together), forget that he was running toward the train/bus to catch up with Sandra Bullock to give her the book she accidentally(?) left on the bench (and I did forgot why he was running), The Mask heart scenario played itself quite convincingly and louder this time. Watching Keanu run has caused the rewinding of that particular scene uncountable times.  He looks equally sexy being rewound!

Then, an idea was born, and I time-traveled (figuratively) to “investigate” this phenomenon of Keanu Charles Reeves engaged in running.  I went back to study running.

Although I have run all my life for fitness sake, and I know a bunch of others who have done it up to marathon and Olympic levels (in the media), this particular studying of running was for personal gratification.  I studied to see if Keanu ran in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the sequel: Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, Point Break, My Own Private Idaho, Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Speed (more flying than running), The Devil’s Advocate, The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, Constantine, The Day The Earth Stood Still), Something’s Gotta Give, The Lake House, Thumbsucker, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, and A Scanner Darkly. Phew!

Needless to say, it was a full-time job.  I studied to see if he was running toward love interests (Charlize Theron– in front  of the church in The Devil’s Advocate), danger, and so on (facing me, and my dropped jaw) or running away (mostly holding a football and running to touch down (depending on the camera’s position, and my jaw dropped).  Not much running happened in Something’s Gotta Give, except when he was chasing Diane Keaton in her seaside abode to give her a kiss.  That, in my book (no pun intended), did not constitute running.

 There is no disputing that running is hard.  Yet, Keanu makes it look effortless as he runs without breaking a sweat or breathing hard or showing any physical exertion, except in The Replacements, where he had a point to make.  It is reality football afterall, and there is no scientific way of playing real-life football—not bending backwards halfway to dodge the ball (or bullet as in The Matrix).

I believe Keanu Reeves’ Achilles tendons do not touch the ground.  I am by no means implying that he floats (except in his numerous sci-fi roles).  Playing normal characters and running (as a true-to-form human being), his heels barely tap the floor/ground as he runs, unless the directors coached him on this special way of running earlier on when he landed his first role at the age of nine.

The actor whose name loosely translates into “cool breeze over the mountains” or “coldness” in Hawaiian certainly gives me a feeling the reverse of his name, hot!  A well traveled tot, Reeves grew up in Toronto, Canada, by way of Beirut, Lebanon, with a biological father who was an American of Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, and English descent and an English mother. 

It must be the training in hockey where he learned to run like that.  With the stick in hand and running sexily, I’d like to believe that the female (giggling little girls) spectators did not care if the stick ever made contact with the puck.  I would not have cared as long as he continued to run aimlessly in skates.   

Could it be that all the ancestry Keanu collected had something to do with his style of running?  How do the Chinese run? The Hawaiians, the English, the Portuguese, and the Americans?

Granted, there is no Lebanese or Canadian blood in him.  Still, could it be that he, by virtue of living in these locales, picked up running styles indigenous to those people (regardless of his age at the time he lived there) by osmosis?
I would like to see future Reeves’ movies with a lot of running.  That should make the studying for this article worth my while.

“It’s always wonderful to get to know women, with the mystery and the joy and the depth. If you can make a woman laugh, you’re seeing the most beautiful thing on God’s Earth.”
– Keanu Reeves

I have been told that I have a beautiful smile.  About my laughter being the most beautiful sound?  I am not so sure about that, but I do like to laugh.

I can’t wait to investigate his forthcoming movies (Jekyll and Cowboy Bepop) for some sexy running (and laughter).