"So whether or not I wanted to be a chick lit author and even though I own and am proud of works of mine that are chick lit, it’s unlikely I will ever sell anything else to a publishing house. I am destined to be identified as a chick lit author even if that’s not how I identify. And chick lit is over.
So what’s a girl to do?
Most of the women who I came up with in this magic time of the early aughts are moving on the best we can. As our characters often did in these commercial novels, we are dealing, not dwelling. We write and we can’t stop ourselves.
Many people have moved onto YA, where it seems chick lit lite is welcome. Most of us, myself included, are epublishing and holding on to our fans that way. We’re trying to write what we want. In many ways, it’s a joy not having to deal with the publishing companies, which get to decide everything.
Yet I know another who recently sold a book to one of the big houses on the condition that she create a pseudonym and abandon her former chick-lit identity forever. She cannot ever own up to being herself. It’s a writer’s protection program. But it makes me kind of sad and worried. What if this book is her hit? How will she ever meet her readers?
It’s been a while, but I still love some of those books, whatever you want to call them. I don’t care if they’re considered cheap or coarse or even slutty. They’re fun, and if you’re lucky, there is much more to them behind their pretty covers.
Recently, the science-fiction issue of the New Yorker came in the mail, and it was full of reflections by writers both literary and commercial about how much the sci-fi genre had influenced them. There were musings about reading sci-fi in secret because it wasn’t taken seriously. It’s hard to believe that a genre once dismissed as pulp gets all this praise now. I wish that would happen for genres like chick lit or romance or mystery. But I doubt it ever will.
Recently, at a baby shower, someone’s 60-something-year-old mother asked me what kind of books I write. I started stuttering and mumbling and tried to describe my latest digitally published novel. My cover was pretty but I hadn’t come up with the proper alliterative phrase. Finally, because I’ve learned that everything needs to be categorized, I settled on “mom-lit.”
“Oh, that’s good,” the woman said. “At least you’re not writing chick lit.”