While I try not to write too much about my children what with my strange fears about internet privacy and all, I think my son will forgive me for being the inspiration for this post.
We were recently having a talk about we what should get a friend of his for her birthday party.
ME:What does Florence (not her real name, privacy) want for her birthday? What should we get her?
CHILD: I don't know.
ME: I mean what kind of stuff does she like?
CHILD: I don't know. . . Girl stuff.
ME: Girl stuff?
At last it seemed my women's studies minor would finally have a practical purpose. Whatever did my boy mean?
ME:Like what, what's girl stuff?
CHILD: You know. Strollers and dolls and stuff.
ME: That stuff is not just for girls.
He looked at me with all the certainty of an almost five year old and said matter-of-factly. "But I don't play with it."
Girl stuff is something that I am increasingly aware of in my writing, or more accurately my publishing. I never set out to write women's fiction, even though with my pretty covers and strong female voices, it would appear that's what I am doing.
While the men who have read my books either inadvertently or because we went to college/work together or because they married me all seem pleasantly surprised, I am not out there attracting the number of male readers that I would like. I want to get more readers with testosterone. I just don't really know how. I think part of me might be starting to sabotage myself. The other day a new male colleague was asking me about my books and I found myself kind of underselling them (did I mention my day job is promoting things?) I had to stop myself before I said, "You wouldn't be interested, It's more for women."
I guess what bothers me - what's bothered me since I was considered a chick-lit-writer is when these terms are used dismissively. It still smarts. I will always believe that moments in people's lives mean something. When I got that minor in Women's Studies I learned that the personal is political. I like telling stories. I write to entertain.
So I'm beginning to happily embrace this community. One of the other things I've learned from the aforementioned day job is to know your audience and I think I do. I feel like they know me too. Maybe one day I will have crossover appeal. Maybe I'll write a novel of political espionage solved by a football team. I'd like that. But for now I celebrate writing what I know. Girl stuff.
Ariella Papa promotes a lot things other than her new novel Momfriends. She is happy to report she did not keep Florence's princess Barbie for herself. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or like her facebook.com/ariellapapabook