Writing and Reading in one’s genre is a key tactic to advancing one’s craft. That has been said in a million ways by thousands of much more successful than I currently am (see the note of hopefulness), in addition to being written, presented and blogged about by various publishing experts.
I would say that you need to take it a step further. Engage in the community of your genre. You say there’s not a community for your genre. I say poppycock! (I’m on a bit of a Victorian language kick…excited I could actually use that phrase.) Every genre has a community. Look at the absolute explosion in conferences, whether you write romance or speculative fiction, like I am. The latter of course seems to lend itself to more variety of conferences, but then you need to figure out what’s the best bet for you, personally.
Also, you need to support the art that is inspired by your genre. In my writer’s group (which is the first community you should be involved in – your own writing group), SnoValley Writes! We’re actually partnering with the local artists’ guild (Mount Si Artists’ Guild) to promote both the visual artists as well as literary artists in our community. We invited the artists to bring their work to a special work session and the writers wrote poems and short stories off the prompts. The final works will be displayed together at our annual community festival that hosts a HUGE artists’ pavilion.
Lately there are even musical groups devoted to specific genres. Support them as well. For instance, my work Martius Catalyst is definitely in the steampunk genre category. My husband and I and another friend couple went to see Abney Park last weekend. Talk about supporting a genre’s community! There were clothing designers, artist, musicians, the expected ‘tinkerers,’ and even steampunk food.
Another way to get involved in your genre’s community is to support the other writers in that genre. Buy their books, follow their blogs, write them charming notes of “I loved your latest book (insert title here),” go to their signings, and turn your friends on to their work. We’ve lost the art of being a patron of the arts …this is the modern version of that regretfully lost status.
Last evening I was offered the opportunity to become involved in yet another writing community. It’s in the planning stages and there will be more details to that forthcoming. But, I jumped at the chance to be a pioneer in something that will help not only my own work, but the work of many other artists as well.
Engage in the community of your genre; you’ll be amazed at the speed with which you excel your craft. One day, also, you’ll need to have folks just like yourself supporting you. It’s how the literary art world turns, love.