I love stories of ordinary folks who parlay a seemingly ordinary hobby into a full-time, paying job. They are a rare breed, indeed. My mom knows one such person: a librarian with a penchant for romance novels who, after reading however many, said to herself, “I can do that.” And she did. She writes romance novels.
Of course, not all “I can do that” moments are destined for greatness. My father had one such moment a few years ago which has since caused a permanent rift with my mother. They were in an art museum somewhere in Europe looking at relatively new art of the Blob on Canvas school to which my father pointed and gloated, “I could do that.” My mother, not skipping a beat, replied, “Yes, but you didn’t, did you?” Mom 1, Dad 0. They now visit art museums separately.
I, too, have had my “I can do that moment” of the literary variety. A few years ago, I started reading Chicklit. I particularly enjoyed Jennifer Weiner’s novel, Good in Bed, and the Sophie Kinsella line of Shopaholic books (although, I quit at the one where she has a baby – a girl can only take so much!), and then moved on to various minor, but still good writers. I’ve never gotten into the Helen Fielding or Candace Bushnell books becuse they seem too Chickie.
You realize pretty quickly that Chicklit, like romance novels, is fairly formulaic: single gal looking for love in all the wrong places, with disasterous consequences, ultimately gets said love (usually of the heterosexual variety) but only after going through an amazing number of hoops, hurdles and other obstacles to get there. Hilarity usually ensues with at least a few morals along the way.
On more than one occasion while reading any number of untold versions of the same story, I was reminded of my mother’s librarian-turned-romance novelist and how she took her love of the formula and turned to her advantage. And, I have to admit, that I thought, more than once, “I can do that!”
So, about a year and a half ago, I started writing my very own book of chicklit. I won’t bore you with the details of it – because, it’s chicklit, there’s not a whole lot of original thought here. Six months after I started, I put it away. My thoughts at the time were: 1) ugh, this is awful! 2) who am I kidding? and 3) I should just step away from the computer for a while. So, that’s how it is that I didn’t open the file for a year.
But, the other night, I was feeling nostalgic and opened up the cleverly titled “Chapter 1”. And, I found myself eagerly reading it as if it were a novel, and I was laughing – not because it was dreadful, but because I thought it was funny.
And, I had that thought again: “I can do that!”