At a recent work-related conference, I attended a fascinating workshop given by Dr. Wendi Lee Foltz. Titled Generations at Work, the goals were to help understand the generations and learn how to work together more effectively. We discussed the four generations in today’s workplace, and brainstormed about events that shaped their lives, molding them into who they are.
The WWII Generation, born before 1940, endured the Depression and World War II. They are the value keepers, the traditionalists.
The Baby Boomers are post-WWII children who came of age during the VietNam War. Rebellious in their youth, they went on to recreate the 60-hour work week. College education for women started to become the accepted norm.
Generation X, children of the Baby Boomers, work to live. They are unimpressed, want a fun environment, and value praise.
The Millenials, aka Gen Y, born after 1980, are entering the workplace, and only now are being defined. They’ve grown up with computers in hand, and are achievement-oriented techies.
As a writer, I later wondered how these values influence what we read. How do they determine what is popular in the marketplace, especially within the realm of romance novels?
In the last 100 years, we’ve gone from the early 20th century inspirational writings of Grace Livingston Hill, to Georgette Heyer who created the well-researched modern Regency, to Daphne DuMaurier and her stories of haunting romantic suspense. DuMaurier led us into the realm of the historical and gothic romance – Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney. Then came Kathleen Woodiwiss in the early 1970’s with a new type of historical romance, and the world of romance exploded into multiple sub-genres, each written to meet the needs of the generations.
This glimpse at various generations helped me understand the WWII Generation’s love of Holt & Whitney’s modern gothic novel with their helpless appearing heroines and strong, brooding heroes. It helped me, too, understand the emergence of Chick Lit – a sub-genre created by and for the fun-loving, intelligent Generation X’ers. Loosening sexual standards has brought an increase in Erotica and, counter-acting that, more popularity for Inspirational reading. Our to-be-read piles now hold everything from Scottish Highland historicals to witty Romantic Comedies.
What will be next?
→ Is your writing, or what you read, influenced by generational values? Do you find yourself writing to what is popular, or what is true to you?