First, here's what happened:
I had a major, major critique of my first novel Monday night with a group of serious fiction writers. My critique group came together last fall when we were each selected to take part in a fiction writing workshop through a local university. When the workshop ended in December, we kept meeting. I tell you this simply because, though each writer in the group writes a different style of fiction, for the most part we're a literary group. The piece I submitted to gain entry into the workshop falls into the genre of literary fiction.
My works in progress, though, fall clearly in the realm of chick-lit. And I have to admit, when people ask me what I write, I don't tend to shout it proudly. Instead I brush off the question. Sometimes I even make a little joke about it, say something like, "It's just chick-lit. You know, not Shakespeare." Why? Why am I not more proud of the fact that I've written a 100,000-word novel that, by all accounts of people who've read it, is a page-turner with publishing potential?
I'll tell you why. It's because of what other people, mostly people who are unfamiliar with the genre, say to chick-lit writers. Here's a sampling of what I heard at my critique:
- I was surprised to find I became engaged in the story. I cared about the characters and even shed a tear or two along the way. This came from someone who said she would "not normally seek out a book described as chick-lit." She'd never read the genre, so she had no idea there are tons -- hundreds, if not thousands -- of smartly written chick-lit novels out there with engaging, deep storylines and well-drawn characters.
- You're a really good writer. You should consider writing more literary work. Yeah, OK, I want to do that, too. But I love writing chick-lit. People love reading chick-lit. And there's nothing wrong with that. Really.
There's room in the world for chick-lit. Hopefully, in fact, there's room for a couple more books by an as-yet undiscovered author.
Photo courtesy of natalie's new york