Monday, March 5, 2012

Gardening and The Help

Just in time to start my garden, tornadoes blew through rather close and brought winter weather the next day.  So I didn't start my garden, but I did convince my husband to go out and buy the few things I needed - mostly more dirt.  I'm a lazy efficient gardener and have raised beds.  Building the beds was hard work - but maintaining them is really easy.  I just add a bag of Miracle Grow organic garden soil made for vegetable gardening on top of the soil from last year.  So far, it's worked really well, and I haven't had to do any other fertilizing. 

Instead of writing children's stories this weekend or working on my WIP, I read The Help.  I couldn't put it down.  I love the way the author uses multiple points of view and does it in a way that doesn't make you work hard as a reader.

I've had a hard time deciding on the genre for the stories I've written so far.  It seems that what I'm writing is Women's Literature, but not Chick Lit.  Once I wrote that scene about a woman giving birth, I accepted the fact I had just kicked the male readers to the side. 

Women's Literature and Chick Lit genres don't seem to be very tightly defined - I like black and white, clear definitions.  I haven't found a clear definition of these genres, but it seems like Chick Lit is more superficial than women's literature, or maybe simply has the purpose to entertain, to be a fast and enjoyable read with a theme relevant to women.  From what I've read, Chick Lit is the equivalent of buying fun, costume jewelry instead of the pricey stuff.  The purpose of Women's Literature is to make a point (a point relevant to women) while entertaining.  Does that sound right?  It seems to be very subjective.

So I'm making my way through a list of high-quality Women's Literature.  Personally, I think The Help is damned entertaining and would be enjoyable for men too.  I bow down to Kathryn Stockett - she definitely did it well.


  1. Loved that novel. I didn't think the movie was nearly as good, but was good enough. And my husband actually read The Help before I did. I bought it for me, but he swiped it before I could get to it.

  2. This was one of my favorite books this year. Amazing story, writing, characterizations, everything worked for me in it.

  3. I probably won't ever read it, but I do want to see the movie, especially after Octavia Spencer won the Oscar.

  4. This was such an excellent book. I loved the different points of view. They really worked. I haven't seen the movie yet but I plan to.

  5. I'm not the kind of person you want near your plants!
    I mean, how difficult is it to destroy a cactus? Nearly impossible, you might say... yeah, right... well I managed to do so. LOL!
    And I won't give any specifics...

  6. The Help is a very good book. I think it was one of the first ebooks I ever read. I had borrowed it from the library for a trip and had it on my netbook.

    Glad those tornadoes didn't hit you. They look terrible. My heart goes out to all of those people.

    Chick lit vs. Woman's lit--I would say woman's lit usually has a more serious overtone, a bit darker in the voice than chick lit. Most stories hit on more than one genre. Go for where the largest audience is. You can't go wrong targeting women. They're the largest book-buying demographic.

  7. I've heard so many good things about THE HELP, but still haven't read it yet. :( I think that a lot of genres aren't very well defined. Or at least not as well-defined as I'd like. I wanted to make one up for my book, because it seemed to be a little of everything. :)

  8. The Help is a wonderful book! I think that a lot of books get labled chick lit because it's more likely that women will enjoy them. But a lot of those are very good, and chick lit can be darned entertaining. I think of "chick flicks" like When Harry Met Sally, that are really wonderful classic movies, but get that label because they are romantic and funny. I'm with M Pax, you can't go wrong targeting women - we like the serious and we like the funny and we like the romance!

  9. Sometimes, Tonja, we just need to take a break from our writing to read. In the meantime, our minds are working out our stories.

  10. My wife loved the book too. I at least told her that I wanted to see the movie, but she went to see it with half a dozen women so I figured I'd catch it later on DVD or TV.

    As for the chic lit thing, something like 80% of readers are female, I'd be tempted to tell you just to write what you want and not worry about who reads it. But if makes us guys disinterested, you've still a huge market.

  11. Well, I didn't have time to respond because I was reading the book. Finished it at 1 AM. One of the best books ever for me.

    I totally agree that writing for women is not a bad choice at all. I just don't get why the genre definition is so fuzzy. And why isn't there a Men's Literature genre if there are two for women?

  12. Hi there! I found your blog because of your mention of chick-lit and women's lit. I really enjoyed The Help as well.

    As for chick-lit and women's literature, I think your definitions are right. Although I could add that chick-lit actually does deal with issues relevant to women only with a lighter, sometimes ironic, tone. This irony/wit often leaves these books pushed to the side and considered irrelevant in comparison to more serious methods.

    As for male/woman readership, it just seems sad to know that if your novel includes scenes of child-birth than men won't read it. It is so ridiculous that women can read issues that men deal with but men, generally, won't read "women's issues."

    1. I think you're right on the chick lit definition.

      I sent my last novel (which has no child-birth scenes) to a guy that is a lot like me except for our gender. I specificially put the question to him - did I think men would read this or only women? His response: women.

      The only reason I care about the genre of my writing is it sounds like you have to have it nailed down before sending out the queries. I can only write what I write - regardless of what category it is (or isn't).

      Thanks for stopping by.