I’ve recently returned from the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in Perth. Even though I’m Australian Perth still is a long-haul. (Did you know it was the most isolated city in the world? Probably not.)
And do you know what is more isolating than being in Perth?
The answer is -being a chick lit author at a romance conference where ‘everyone’ says chick lit is dead, especially when you don’t believe it is.
Especially when you must answer the women at the conference, not the publishers or the powers that be, but other authors when they ask you what you write.
“I write chick lit but that you can’t call it chick lit that you have to call it women’s fiction,” said I.
And they said “Why?”
And I said. “Apparently no one reads it anymore. I was told that last year and the year before too.”
And to a one they say “But I love chick lit.”
It’s a conundrum to be in a room where you’re being told what you write is out of fashion and yet you’re surrounded by people who say they like it. It’s harder still when you love it yourself.
Chick lit was like the French onion dip of the conference. It’s not very trendy, you won’t see it on a menu anywhere because it’s been pushed aside by hummus and guacamole and even beetroot dip but still there’s barely a woman who when left alone with some French onions dip and crackers won’t take a bite. Not only that she’ll have another dip. She may even find herself embarrassed by the fact that she ate the whole bowl and loved it.
She may even find herself grabbing a small tub at the supermarket next time she’s there because she forgot how much she really enjoyed it and how much she had missed it.
Now she may not serve it up on Saturday night (or in the case of the book, recommend her whole book club reads it) but she will enjoy it.
I think that’s chick lit right now. It’s not widely available or celebrated but people do like it. It’s not trendy but people still read it.
You know why that is? To my mind at least, it is because chick lit books are about women trying to find themselves in this crazy world with the help (or hindrance) of friends their friends, family, co-workers and lovers.
That’s also the story of every woman who was at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference. They were an amazing, wonderful, vibrant group of women who were busy making new friends, building careers while trying to balance family and work. They were trying to find their way, where they fit in and how they could move forward on their journey.
I didn’t hear anyone talking about their own boyfriends or lovers or needing men to complete them. They were talking about their jobs, balancing that with their families and trying to become their full and happy selves (or happier because there were some gloriously happy people in that room).
That’s why I believe chick lit (and French onion dip) can both survive because we enjoy them and they are a part of our own stories, even if we may not always admit it.
(If you would like to come over for a Jatz cracker, some French onion dip and to boorow a book, do let me know!)