What’s wrong with being a women’s fiction writer?

Does writing as a profession, as a calling, as a job has a gender?  Is creativity gender specific?  Are the books written by men better just because they are written by men? No, they of course are not. Talent I think has no gender, whether you’re male of female it doesn’t necessarily mean you have “an exceptional creative power,” and still, being a female writer, being a “women’s fiction author” imposes a certain label on you and sometimes, maybe somewhat unconsciously we help those labels on us to strive.  

 While introducing my book to others I have often caught myself telling that it would be much more interesting for women, because, yes, it’s about women and I see my primarily reading audience as women. It’s a women’s fiction, contemporary fiction, or a chick lit, if we talk about the genre. “Oh, is it?” and I’m getting that ironic smile in response, instantly knowing what’s behind it. A firm, unmovable, hard to change stereotype that those “women fiction or chick lit books” are, well, light, easy, and most likely, rather  not so serious as literature. Stories about women who’re trying to find love, or a perfect job, which make difficult  life changing decisions, which may relocate to other countries chasing their dreams, struggling with their everyday choices, and losses, or wins and achievements are considered as “easy stories”, men would not be interested to know and read about. But, considering my own experience related to my book  - Friday Evening, Eight O’Clock  I was surprised to discover that some of its readers were men and not only they enjoyed reading the book,   they were eager to share their feedback and opinion.  

Why are we, as authors writing them, and as readers, so attracted to the stories where predominantly women tell us about their own lives? I think this happens because as we follow and observe characters through different situations we easily recognize ourselves. We identify our own personalities, our paths, our wishes, fears and insecurities. We feel empathy towards those women who may have the same problems with their partners or husbands, or children and friends and colleagues, as we all do. They may be far from being ideal, and their mistakes are similar to ours, they are just like us and that’s why we so desperately want them to succeed and see how their dreams come true. 

Women’s fiction gives enormous spectrum of psychological, cultural and social issues to explore. While it portrays our reality and brings up eternal, universal questions on human relationships  at the same time it gives a possibility to maneuver within the chosen genre, set a tone, often humorous, sarcastic and witty.

Jennifer Weiner in her brilliant book “Hungry Heart” writes: “Women’s stories matter. They tell us who we are, they give us places to explore our problems, to try on identities and imagine happy endings. They entertain us, they divert us, and they comfort us when we’re lonely or alone. Women’s stories matter. And women matter too,” she says, and I’m thinking about all the wonderful, smart, funny, strong female characters she invented for us, alongside other extraordinary women writers; Marian Keyes, Helen Fielding, Sophie Kinsella,Candace Bushnell, Elizabeth Gilbert.  

For me, being a women’s fiction writer is a synonym to these inspiring, hugely talented  ladies.


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