I had an epiphany the other day. I have always loved to tell stories. It doesn’t matter if I use my laptop or my guitar. The kind of stories I like to write are the same kind of stories I like to read. The kind that captivate. The kind that I come away from touched and inspired. When you think about it, people have a lot of questions when it comes to this life. Life is wonderful, but it’s complicated at times. Stories are the way we understand, observe and learn to cope along the journey. Long before man ever lifted his hand to chisel words or images into stone or dip a quill in ink, people were telling stories. I’m sure it didn’t matter much how the story was told, but rather as long as the story was told. I suppose that is one of the reasons that I feel so compelled to write, if not to solely give enjoyment to others, to explore; to grow my capacity to relate to others unlike myself. Ok, that was my introduction. Are you ready for that epiphany I mentioned?
As an amateur writer, the gap between knowing you’re a writer and being sure of what type of writer you are is huge. At least it has been for me, anytime I’ve gone to fill in the details in an About Me field or select specifics from a drop-down menu. I still experience extreme amounts of discomfort when people ask me what kind of novels I write. Of course, I’m just being melodramatic, but I really don’t like the idea of being put in a box as an Author, ya know? I’ve come to grips with the fact I have written General Women’s Fiction but there is a term that I was only recently introduced to, and that is the genre called Chick-lit. Overall, it seems largely misunderstood and devalued by the reading world. Which is why, when I began to survey the genre and its components, the fact that my debut novel appeared to fit the characteristics, was alarming.
What calmed me was after I came across some videos of the late Maeve Binchy. Granted, I believe when she published her first book in 1982, there was no such thing as Chick-lit, nevertheless, the renowned Irish Author, is seen as the queen mother of the underrated genre. I’m not willing to arm-wrestle over her acclaimed literary royalty. This is first and foremost because I have never read more than an Amazon excerpt from one of her books. She has written books like Minding Frankie and A Week in Winter. As I watched clip after clip, I found myself wishing I could have known her. I think this is something that many writers and readers could attest to. I’ve always been especially inquisitive; one of many questions and many words. Listening to how Binchy described the characters she wrote about and where she pulled them from made feel validated as a writer and not half crazy. She didn’t write about perfect people either. How boring! In her own words, “I don’t have ugly ducklings turning into swans in my stories. I have ugly ducklings turning into confident ducks.” Furthermore, I will write what comes to me, and I’ll not be afraid of titles or hypothetical boxes. Whether they be labeled Chick-lit, choc-lit or a futuristic fantasy. I believe this freedom is one of the many secrets to creating masterpiece after masterpiece.
What’s your favorite book by Maeve Binchy? Are there other bonafied Chick-Lit Authors that I should get to know?