I must have started writing this post a hundred different ways and every single one of them was defensive and pissy and just made me angry which, when you think about it, is a bit odd given that chicklit is very rarely pissy, defensive or angry. It’s been said a thousand times before – the term is rarely used a compliment and there’s very little we can do about that.
However, I’m not in the mood to get on my soapbox today, I’m on it so often and it’s exhausting. To me, International ChickLit Month is about writers and readers coming together because we share something we love. That, to me, seems like a decent reason to celebrate. Ever since I signed my book deal for I Heart New York, I’ve had everyone from friends and family members to dates and complete strangers – both in real life and online – either write me off as stupid or react with surprise because ‘you’re so clever and that’s what you write?’ My stock reaction to this is now, ‘Yes! Thank you! I write funny books about women’s lives all day long and they make me and over a million other people really happy and the craziest bit is, they pay me to do it! I am clever, aren’t I?’ Most people don’t know what to say to that.
Any book that touches a life is a wonderful thing and I am thankful to have the opportunity to put a smile on someone’s face for half an hour or so. Mark Chapman blamed Catcher in the Rye for shooting John Lennon. Eek. I will be very happy if my legacy is an email from someone telling me they treated themselves to a Marc Jacobs handbag because reading my book convinced them they were worth it. It’s crazy for me to think that a book I wrote because I was miserable and was looking for an escape of my own has been an escape for so many other people. Every time I get an email from someone who has written their own Single Girl’s To-Do List or booked a last minute flight to anywhere, I am reminded that those books with their pink sparkly covers are just as powerful as any Booker Prize winner when it comes to influencing people’s lives.
Through writing my books, I have had the privilege to meet no end of intelligent, funny, strong and creative women (and some brave men!) who write, review, read or just generally love books and my life is all the better for it. Chicklit doesn’t just mean a pink cover with a winsome illustration on the front and cheesy predictable love story inside. It means an adventure. It means an escape. It means learning things about a life that isn’t my own, whether I wish it were or I’m glad it’s not. Sometimes it means laughing my arse off and then turning the page to sob over a broken heart. Most importantly, it means a genuine, loving and supportive community of people and I for one am proud to be a part of it.