Monthly Archives: September 2009

Book snobs

Was in NY last week, and spent some time skipping in and out of bookstores researching the chicklit – apologies, ‘contemporary women’s fiction’ market.

Best reaction: a mouth-breathing Barnes&Noble; assistant who blinked slowly and said ‘I wouldn’t know. I don’t read that kind of book’.

I laughed out loud.

Then, later on, I thought, poor her.

Because here’s the thing.

I eat burgers. I also eat kobe beef, rare. I like French fries and potatoes Dauphinoise. I love Dairy Milk chocolate and handmade truffles from l’Artisan du Chocolat. I like the Twilight series and Tolstoy. It is perfectly possible to enjoy so-called low-brow and high-brow things, you know. The point is you should make your own mind up by trying it.

So when someone asks ‘what kind of book is it?’ and I say ‘romantic comedy, you know. Shallow as a pedicure bath,’ and they frown and say sorrowfully ‘oh, I did a degree in English literature you see. I’m a terrible literature snob, I can’t possibly enjoy chick lit’, I just grin and shake my head.

I did a degree in English literature too. And I read everything I can get my hands on. (I started listing my favourite authors here, but started to feel like a prat, I also wrote a blog post on Hardy last week and didn’t post it for the same reason.) So big whoopdy-doo for me. Who cares? I don’t define myself by what I read. Every great book fits in a different way – some offer comfort, some excitement, some philisophy, some make me feel introspective, some just make me laugh, some make me cry, and some, like Tolstoy, are like stepping into the literary equivalent of a Porsche.

Now, The Dating Detox isn’t a Porsche. It’s a shiny pushbike with streamers on the handlebars. If you like it, wonderful. If you don’t, tant pis. Which, as Nick Hornby says, is French for tough shit.

I have no problem being called a chicklit author, by the way. I’m happy to be called an author at all. I could start a feminist diatribe now about how we don’t say dicklit and there are hundreds of thousands of books about love and life and families and sex and it’s only the ones with ovaries that we softly denigrate with the chicklit tag. But why bother?

The point is: people that define themselves by the so-called high-falutin’ things they enjoy probably have a pretty tenuous and frankly, shallow sense of self. And they’re also missing out on an awful lot of fun.

The Rules Of Breaking Up

I keep thinking about this blog as though it’s a friend who I haven’t called in a while, and I know I should call her, but I don’t know what to say, because all I’m doing right now is running around and writing and freelancing and you know, being the flippertygibbert I am, and if I do call her I’ll just witter on for a few minutes and ask some questions and then we’ll hang up and I’ll feel vaguely unsettled by the whole thing.The phone isn’t my medium, however. Never has been, never will. I like talking in person, preferably over a coffee or a drink, and writing. The point is: I should damn well post something. However, no one is reading this – as far as I know, anyway, certainly not yet, till The Dating Detox is published at least – I think I’ll post a thang I wrote last week.It was meant to be placed in a glossy magazine as publicity for The Dating Detox, but has – I believe – fallen through. So, here it is:

The Rules of Breaking Up

1. First, you cry

Day one: wallow. It’s over. Forget who dumped who, what he did, what you said, what you were wearing and how you have to now burn those clothes in a pagan closure ceremony, etc. Nothing you do now will change the past. So have a good weep. Cry in the bath, in bed, on the bus, at work in the toilets. Just remember that from now on, every minute – every second – will hurt a bit less than this one. I promise. And don’t call him.

2. Next, pull yourself together

Be tough on yourself. Did you eat breakfast today? Have you washed your hair in the last two days? Have you spoken to a friend about something other than your breakup in the past three days? If the answer is ‘no’, then look in the mirror and repeat ‘I will not waste another tear on him’ until you believe it. (My Dad invented that dramatic mantra for one of my more traumatic break-ups.) You can do it: you’re much stronger than you think. And don’t call him.

3. Do something fun

Your ‘something fun’ list shouldn’t include ‘wailing’ or ‘watching The Notebook’. Do something simple and soul-cheering. For example, have a long bath. Eat Tunnock’s Tea Cakes in bed. Binge on glossy magazines. Rearrange your wardrobe whilst listening to 80s music (montage!). Read a book with heartbreak, hilarity and a happy ending. (Jilly Cooper’s Polo is ideal.) Feeling extra-strong and brutal? Throw out his stuff and the clothes that remind you of him. And don’t call him.

4. Get a (social) life

Tragic, but true: the only way to truly get over a break-up is to fall for someone else. Seem impossible right now? Well, flirting is the first step. The admiring male gaze has restorative qualities. Hit a bar with your friends and be the coquette we both know you still are underneath all that heartbreak. Act wry, coy and/or amusing, arch your eyebrow and bite your lip. It’s called flirting and damnit, it’s fun. Don’t end the night crying and vomiting if you can help it. And don’t call him.

5. Now’s the time for a little perspective

Every guy is the wrong guy. Except for one. And he’s out there now, looking for you. He’s probably in a bar with his friends right this second, complaining about the lack of girls in this place, or facing a lonely night in with a DVD and a pizza. You could be eating the other half of that pizza! You could be making eyes with him across that bar! So don’t think about the guy you just left. Look forward to the man you’re about to meet. And don’t call him (your ex, I mean, in case you didn’t know by now).

6. Get ready to fall in love again

Breaking-up sucks. It’s miserable and nausea-inducing. Life will never be the same again. But – and in case the last few sentences made you start crying afresh, don’t worry, I’m about to get positive – everyone goes through it, survives, and goes on to find someone else. Someone who has the same great qualities that your ex had, but even kinder/funnier/smarter/[insert favourite quality in a boyfriend HERE]. Chalk it up to experience and move on. Your life will be bigger, better and brighter without him. Go get em, tiger.

The First Post

Blog fright. That’s what I’ve got.

This is the first post, and it all seems a bit silly to be posting to no one, since the book isn’t published and no one’s going to look for me, are they? Exactly.

Except – ooh, new thought – people I know. What are you doing looking for me on the internet, you big dorks? Sheesh. Go read a real blog, for goodness’ sake. Or email me. Let’s go out for a drink.

I suppose the point of a blog is to say what I’m doing/thinking/eating/etc. I’m working at the moment and trying to work out the second book. Title TBC. (Suggestions welcome.) The Dating Detox comes out in the UK and English-speaking world (except the USA which is special and gets its very own version at some point in the future) in January.

I don’t know what else the sweet betsy to write here. How bizarre to be unable to think of what to say. All I fricking do is write.

Okay. I’m done. Stick a fork in me. If anyone ever comes to this site, or if I get some kind of blog-groove or even a groove-ette, I’ll write some more.