Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Am I too old for Chick Lit??

I recently read a Chick Lit book, which shall remain nameless, and found it a little difficult to relate to. I must say that experience left me a little freaked out. Chick Lit is MY genre. I read it. I write it. I get this genre---or so I thought. I know what you’re thinking---It must be the writing. But no. The author aptly wrote the novel.

The author hit all of the points of a Chick Lit novel. A Chick Lit novel is typically written from the point of view of a twenty something to a very early thirty something woman. The main character was a 25 year old female. Chick Lit typically involves the search for the perfect man, a promotion or new job—all while either looking fabulous doing it or painstakingly tipping the scales (think Bridget Jones' Diary and Confessions of a Shopaholic). The main character in this novel wanted the promotion and while not specifically pursing a man wouldn’t turn down a good one; all while being very aware of her weight. The author met the criteria for the quintessential Chick Lit novel and wrote it well enough.

I just couldn’t connect with the desire for the promotion or a man. I pursued both at one point in my life but now I feel accomplished in both of those areas. At this point in my life, I could not help but think the main character does not have any children depending on her. Priorities tend to change after children. I kept thinking if your family is okay then you can rebuild. You’re okay. If the job did not pan out for the main character she could always find another one. She’s in her twenties. In my twenties I had a billion jobs. Well, I had a lot. I’m 32 now so I sneak in just under the wire of the typical age for the main character. However, with the gnawing feeling that the stakes just weren’t high enough I find myself asking “am I too old for Chick Lit”? And I need an answer before I give my husband my Christmas list—of books he would never otherwise get me on his own.

Not to mention, I entered a contest to re-name MY genre and was selected as a semi-finalist. *insert look of disbelief here* No really. I was. Here’s the link: http://aspiringwriterworld.blogspot.com/2010/11/we-have-our-semi-finalists.html. However, to become a finalist and win the critique, among other things, I have to write a paragraph explaining why my name best suits the genre. Yes, for the genre I’m not even sure I’m suited for. Umm.

So what do you think? Have you ever read/enjoyed Chick Lit? If so, did you outgrow it or are you 80 years old still reading it?

Off I go to think about whether I’m too old for Chick Lit and why my name should be chosen for its new moniker.


  1. You could be going through a phase. I'm not an avid Chick Lit reader, but I do love it for what it is --- I think that's the problem other readers have with it --- trying to make it something it's not.

    It could be that you're outgrowing your current reading tastes too. But I think you may find when you start reading other types of books, you'll realize why you loved Chick Lit in the first place and come back to it --- or you may just gravitate to another genre you'll love.

    Either way, you'll still be a reader. :)

  2. Thank you for the encouragement. I wrote my contest entry and it wasn't half bad. I'll definitely give ChickLit a break because I'm hoping this is just a phase. But I won't stop reading, I do enjoy YA and I've read some pretty awesome YA books lately. :)

  3. bridget jones's diary is one of my favorite books, but as i get older, and work through those issues addressed in the chic lit genre (although i haven't totally checked things off the list, considering i'm unemployed and unmarried, (yikes!) um, what was i saying? i'm suddenly terribly depressed for some reason.

    oh yes, the issues. i think as i got older and less interested in what the chic lit genre dealt with i migrated away from it, although, i have to admit, i was never truly into it to begin with. i laughed myself silly at bridget and that's what drew me to the books (that and the first one was a christmas gift).

    these days, i'm more into jodi picoult type stories (although, i really really REALLY wish she would put more humor in them - any humor at all. kind of hard to do, i know, when you're writing about teen suicide and bullying and shooting rampages and breakable children and...ugh the list goes on), but will certainly pick up something chic litty if it looks to be funny and have a little deeper meaning than most.

    i guess that's what sets women's fiction apart from chic lit. the weight of what's at stake and also the weight of the writing.

    i write what i consider to be mainstream/contemporary fiction (i thought it was interesting you suggested that as the new genre for chic lit) but i've come to realize that it's probably more in the category of women's fiction. it sounds like you're probably headed in that direction, if you haven't already arrived there.

    i say, don't fight it if it feels good to you. write what you like to read. read what you like to write. if your tastes have outgrown chic lit in its purist form, then move on from that to whatever piques your interest now.

    good luck with the writin'!

  4. You didn’t tell me you can read minds. I wish you could see the smile on my face. Right after I wrote this post, I sat down and thought about what was different about the chick lit books I do like and the one I read recently. And I thought the same exact thing. I think the book I read lacked the humor needed for the light and fluffy material.

    I loved Bridget Jones’ diary too not because it dealt with anything outside of normal chick lit but because of her many fumbles. I could not help but laugh and enjoy those books. I even liked Confessions of a Shopaholic not because I can relate to it but because watching someone hide from creditors is just plain funny (at least the way they did it---not the screaming, threatening creditors you see on Dateline).

    I strive to write something like Jodi Picoult but with humor—as hard as it is to write heavy material with humor. I’ll just keep working on it. I’ll definitely read more women’s fiction for a better reading experience and to learn from people who strike the balance between humor and heavy material well enough to call themselves women’s fiction.

    I completely agree with your classification of what sets women’s fiction apart from chick lit. I actually entered more than one name in the contest but mainstream fiction is what they chose. I also suggested mainstream women’s fiction, which I think is the best possible fit for what we’re talking about. Maybe not so much for pure chick lit.

    Something tells me I’m really going to enjoy your novel. I look forward to hearing more from you soon.

    P.S. You’re self-employed—writing your novel. And writing a novel is a big enough commitment without adding marriage to the pot.

  5. Hi Latoya...Saw your follow on Twitter and am now following you back in all the social networking ways I can... :)
    Just wanted to say that I love this post! I write women's fiction...and I don't really like saying that. Not that I'm ashamed, but all fiction is women's fiction...isn't it?? I suppose men should be more offended since they don't have their own genre... :)
    Anyway...I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned humor. That seems to be the thing I've missed most in books as well. Real life has a lot of funny moments and when brought into the context of a novel, makes the characters so much more relatable. I can't tell tou how many books I've simply stopped reading because they were too depressing.
    That's what makes women lean more toward chick lit. The problem is that we need chick lit for the next stage in life after the job searching/man hunting phase.
    I'm 34 and completely relate to what you're saying because I'm different than I was in my twenties..my view and place of the world is different too, therefore what I long to read is bound to change, as is the case for lots of women.
    Thanks again for the post!

  6. Hi Charissa. Thank you for the follows. I definitely appreciate it. Thank you for your comments as well.

    You offer some great points. When I submitted Mainstream Fiction to the “Rename Chick Lit” contest the fact that women read the majority of fiction contributed to that name. I figure if the majority of fictional books are written for women then that qualifies those books as mainstream and any book with another target audience is the exception.
    I think men read more non-fiction. They can have non-fiction. LOL.

    I completely agree with you in how humans crave humor. Even in the most depressing times, we search for a silver lining. I’m sure people even found a reason to laugh during the Great Depression so books that carry on for 600 pages without even a glimmer of humor are unrealistic. Those books are a little hard to digest too.

    I try to use humor in my writing even though I want to tackle subjects more weighty than man trouble. As hard it may be to integrate humor into difficult situations I can think of a few that ring true: people laugh inappropriately during tough times or people laugh to keep from crying.

    “Man hunting”. I love it. And yes, I’m looking for stories with a bit more to offer than the boyfriend/work drama. Most of us have figured out men and work by our thirties—not that things are perfect. But “we’ve exhaled”. If you find any books that meet those criteria please recommend them to me. I would enjoy the good read.