Putting The Chick Back In Chick Lit
by Samantha Wilde
The other day, I became the mother of six chicks. My children named five of them. My husband got to name one. They are: Goober, Chickenpox, Pertolotte, Rosalina, Peepsqueak, and Fairy. Can you guess which one my husband named?
We all find them completely irresistible. The day they arrived, my daughter rolled on the floor in an ecstasy over their adorableness. They are, in fact, breathtakingly cute. They peep and cheep a lovely sound, a delicate, gentle, melodic song. When they fall asleep, they simply drop to the ground, overcome with sleep. One fell asleep in my daughter’s hand today.
Now that I am the proud mother of chicks, my identity as a chick lit writer requires some investigation. I did not try to become the writer of chick lit and I am not quite certain, even after two books, about the exact definition of chick lit. At a recent book talk and signing a woman came up to me and said, “Your books are not chick lit. They are really deep.” That raises a few questions, doesn’t it?
Here is what I have tried to do in my novels: have a “happy” ending, not kill any mothers, not kill/abduct or abuse any children, be funny, write about the lives of ordinary women.
The assumption of the content of chick lit is that, like an actual chick, the stuff is “fluffy”. Is the implication also that the books are immature — or youthful? Certainly, as that one reader expressed in her comment to me at the book signing, there’s a general agreement that chick lit lacks depth or substance.
I can assure you that my chicks are as interesting, curious, expressive and real as anything I know. I believe also that stories that run after love and happiness, that use humor instead of tragedy, that seek to share the rich ordinary life of women, do not lack substance or import. A reviewer who read my second novel, I’ll Take What She Has, wrote about the light, humorous quality of the book and then said: “Something strange happened. It made me stop and think.”
I think the real trouble writers of chick lit run into comes when others don’t take their work seriously. But I can assure you that I take my chicks more seriously than I would a group of hens. Their little bodies could so easily be harmed. Their survival is more uncertain. They require a special heat lamp and getting wet and cold could kill them. They are special because they are fluffy. And so it is with chick lit.
There is something precious, life-affirming and joy-inducing about my little flock of six. That’s the meaning behind chick in chick lit for me: vital, life-affirming, happy-ending devoted, joyful reading-inducing narrative — that’s worth protecting! And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with a cute book either, especially when it’s cute and deep. Isn’t that what we all want for ourselves, anyway, to be interesting and adorable?
Samantha Wilde is the author of the recently released I’ll Take What She Has as well as This Little Mommy Stayed Home. She is the at-home mother to three small children, an ordained minister, a yoga teacher, and the daughter of novelist Nancy Thayer. You can learn more at samanthawilde.com.