Tag Archives: divorce

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Personally, I'm quite happy to describe my novels as women's fiction. To me, women's fiction can be defined as below (with thanks to the author Becca Vnuk), and I'm happy with this. These are the books I enjoy reading as well as writing. And it's not that I think men won't be interested in them, rather that it's less likely:

"The common thread is that the central character is female, and the main thrust of the story is something happening in the life of that woman (as opposed to the overall theme being a romance or a mystery of some sort). Emotions and relationships are the common thread between books that belong in this category. A woman is the star of the story, and her emotional development drives the plot."

And I suppose for me, it distinguishes my fiction from chicklit, which Wikipedia defines as:

Heroine-centered narratives that focus on the trials and tribulations of their individual protagonists. The genre often addresses issues of modern womanhood – from romantic relationships to female friendships to matters in the workplace – in humorous and lighthearted ways.

But some writers feel very strongly about their novels being described as women's fiction.

Take best-selling author Jodi Picoult, for example.

In an interview for the Orlando Sentinel, Picoult said: “I don’t write women’s fiction. What that means is I have lady parts. There is absolutely nothing gendered in my writing. Some books I think of as more male-centric than female-centric. Honestly, when most people talk about women’s fiction, they’re usually talking about a light-and-fluffy beach read. If anyone is describing my books as light and fluffy, you have serious issues.”

Interviewed on Popsugar.com, Taylor Jenkins Reid (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo) also expresses her dislike of the women's fiction category.

She said, "Anytime I meet someone and they ask me what I do and I say, "I'm an author," and they say, "Oh, what kind of books do you write?" I say, "I write fiction." And they say, "Well, what does that mean?" What I choose to answer is, "I write book club books. I write books that you would read in a book club." What I mean by that is I write commercial fiction that is hopefully accessible to anybody that wants to read it, but they can be thought-provoking and give you something to talk about. But that's a very long answer to a small question, and the short answer is I write women's fiction, and the reason why it's called women's fiction is because we want to make sure, in no uncertain terms, men know "don't read this," which is just absurd.

"We have a society in which woman have learned to read about men and to find interesting things about the inner lives of men, and we have not done that same service for men. We have told men that women in their lives are not interesting to them, that the stakes of domestic fiction is not relevant to them — all of these things are completely untrue. Books about love and family are just as important and can be just as skillfully and beautifully written as books about war. I don't know why, so often, we put such a larger value on the story areas that men are interested in than what women are interested in. I also just don't buy the conceit. I think we just haven't allowed for men to admit when they're interested in these things, to open themselves up to be interested in these things. We've said, time and time again, to men, "What goes on in a woman's mind is not relevant to you." And that's just crazy. What goes on in every man's mind is relevant to me. We exist in the world together. I'm married to a man. The world is full of men. We should be doing that same thing for men. I think we're fixing it slowly. Big Little Lies was such a great example of a story, exclusively about women and about issues that directly affect women, that men watched. They cared. We're at the beginning of it."

(You can read the full interview here).

What do you think of the Women's Fiction book category? Are you happy with it the way I am, or do you agree that we're excluding men by using it? And if we are, is that right? Do, in fact, women's fiction books have something to offer men too?

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

All for now.

Margaret 

write to mend your broken heart

If you're coping with the aftermath of a relationship break up right now, I bet you've had people telling you "I know just what you're going through."

Wrong.

Nobody but you can know exactly what you're going through.

So, I'm not going to tell you that. But I will tell you that I know about sleepless nights. Wanting to pick fights. Feeling so low and so reckless you don't care what happens to you. Or you wouldn't do, if it weren't for your kids, family or friends who want or need you to be OK. To function.

I know about that big feeling of WHY? And all the other questions screaming around your brain as you struggle to comprehend and to accept what's happened to you.

How could he?
What about all our plans and dreams?
The promises and vows we made to each other?

I know about the complete denial that this is really happening to you; that at this stage in your life, you're going to have to make a new start when you thought you were set up for life.  Or maybe, as was the case for me, this isn't the first time you've had to make a new start, and you know how damn hard it can be.  That you can't believe you've got to crank up that amount of energy all over again when you're tired; so tired, your eyes hollow and burning with it, and yet you still can't sleep.

But listen, you will get through this.

Not only that, but maybe you'll be like me and you'll end up in a place when you can actually be grateful this break-up happened. I know that might seem unlikely right now, but honestly it really is true for me. I was so completely in love, I was like a moth hovering around a flame. I gave away all responsibility for my happiness to somebody else; somebody, it turned out, who didn't care enough about me to take care of it.

My recovery took a long time. Yours may do too. There's a definite process to go through, with clear stages to it. You will have to deal with each of these stages before you can move on to the next one, just as I did. But in dealing with them, you'll become a stronger, more grounded, content person than you were before.

I will never walk in someone else's shadow again. Or be dependent on someone else's whims to feel happy. These days I have an underlying strength that comes from the knowledge that I got safely through the most painful time of my life. And because I did, I know I can cope with whatever life throws at me in the future.

Writing played a key role in my recovery, and I'll show you how it can do the same for you as we work steadily, caringly though those crucial stages of recovery together.

Are you ready to make a start?

OK, I know you might not feel ready. Right now you might be feeling as if you'll never be ready. But just pretend you're ready for now, OK? That will be enough, I promise you. Together we'll set off on this healing journey together.

So, I want you to pick up a pen and find a piece of paper or a notebook. Now, write the word HOPE in big letters. There. Now, look at it. You've done your first piece of healing writing. This is what we'll be travelling towards together. Hope.

I know you can do it.  Trust me.

Margaret

write to mend your broken heart

He was the love of my life, and he'd been away from me for a week, on a skiing holiday with his brother - the first time we'd been apart in three years. I'd missed him so much, and now here he was, back again, walking towards me along the platform in the station like a suntanned God.

Handsome and charismatic, without him life was a silent world without colour and light. He was my light, and I flew towards him now like a moth to a flame, flinging myself into his arms. Everything was right with my world again; he was home. I had my man, my passion, and I had my imagined future of the two of us, white-haired, strolling hand-in-hand by the sea together in our old age.

Man and woman holding hands

Two months later, our relationship was over.

I'd been to the supermarket to buy food for his packed lunch the next day. When I entered the house, everything was quiet. Too quiet, because the car was outside, so I knew he was home, and he didn't do quiet. Whenever he was alone, he filled the silence with music, or by making long phone calls to his friends.

I went into the sitting room to find him sitting on the sofa, strangely still, his face filled with tension. Immediately, I went to sit next to him. In the past year, he'd lost a close friend in a cycle accident, and I'd lost my father to cancer. Not unsurprisingly, I feared the worst.

"What is it?" I asked, taking his hand. "What's wrong?"

Absolutely nothing had prepared me for his reply. Since his return from his skiing holiday, life had continued exactly as normal. Shared meals. Doing things with his daughters when they stayed with us. Walking the dog. Going out to social events. And passion. Plenty of passion. As I say, everything absolutely as normal.

He hadn't met my eyes since I'd walked in, but now he looked up.

"I've met someone else," he said.

Time stood still. I swear, it really did. For around 10 seconds, it was as if we were both frozen in time.

I didn't need to ask any questions, because I knew exactly what he meant. I didn't have all the information I would later learn - that he had met this new woman while he was on his skiing holiday, that he had tried to resist her, but the connection between them was too strong. That she had been phoning him at work. That he had lied to me about his whereabouts on several occasions to visit her.

For those ten seconds, none of that mattered. A shaft of light penetrated my brain; a light I knew would all-too-soon be swamped by extreme darkness.

 

shaft of light

 

I can remember my thoughts being really lucid for that short period of time. I knew a tidal wave of indescribable pain was about to hit me. But for those ten frozen seconds, that shaft of light showed me a glimpse of what the future could hold for me - a future without him.

"This is going to hurt so much. It's going to take a long time to get over. But when I have, I won't have to struggle with being a stepmother to his girls any longer. Maybe I'll even be able to have a child of my own."

Readers, I did just that. After I'd dealt with the tidal wave.

So, my challenge to you, if you're dealing with a broken relationship right now, is to use this TEN-SECOND TIME-FREEZE TECHNIQUE yourself.

Find somewhere quiet, where you won't be disturbed. Close your eyes and take a series of deep breaths. Imagine the sky, with the sun breaking out of the clouds and sending down a shaft of light. Let that light connect with you, revealing the best future you can possibly imagine for yourself after you've dealt with the pain of your current situation.

What do you see?

Try to make it just about you. Your deepest dreams and desires. Now, write them down - just a few words will do. And put them somewhere safe. They're your treasures.

Treasure_chest_color