I don’t write literature and that’s okay!

Everyone wants to write the Great American Novel. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. Every would-be American author wants to write The Great American Novel. Except me. I always was a rebel. That’s a lie. Well, not the part about being a rebel – that part’s true. Once upon a time I too had some grandiose idea that I could write a great piece of literature. Maybe not THE Great American Novel, but something in that area. After publishing three books, I realized I wasn’t kidding anyone – including myself.

Three books in I was barely selling enough books to be able to call myself a writer. And the comments! Oh boy, the comments. They did my head in. I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself. I enjoy writing and self-publishing was a dream come true, but between the lack of sales and not exactly stellar reviews, I wasn’t sure how to proceed.

A friend of mine had been pushing me for years to write a chick lit novel. I had – literally – turned my nose up at the idea. That’s not the sort of thing I write, I said. But why not? Hmm. That’s a question I couldn’t answer without sounding like a complete jerk. When my muse visited me in the shower to relay an idea for a book and the idea turned out to be somewhat of a chick lit novel, I decided to give it a try.

I’ve now written four chick lit novels. Three of which are a cozy mystery series (The Gray-Haired Knitting Detectives) and one of which is a romantic comedy (Molly’s Misadventures). Despite these novels obviously being just plain fun, I continue to get reviews which fault me not on the book I’ve written but the book I should have written.

What the heck am I talking about? Here’s an example. Jack Gets His Man is a cozy mystery with a gay man as the main character. Despite the novel being a light, cozy mystery, some reviewers were appalled that I didn’t discuss being homosexual in America today. Of course, I didn’t! Jack Gets His Man is a funny mystery – not a treatise on prejudice in modern society.

With my latest book, Molly’s Misadventures, I’ve again received some critique about the book I should have written instead of the book I’ve actually written. That’s made me spend some time thinking about my writing goals. Not my goal as to what I write but my goal as to what a reader should get out of my writing. And here’s what I came up with.

My goal with my books is to make the reader forget about her life and the world surrounding it for a few hours. Nothing more. Nothing less. And you know what? There’s value in that. Especially in a world in which terrorist attacks seem to be a daily occurrence. So yeah, I write chick lit and I’m damn proud of it.