I read an interview with author Sophie Kinsella recently in The Guardian, (haha I know, me- The Guardian!) about the chicklit label that some women writers seem to shy away from. Sophie Kinsella is well known for her Shopaholic series of books, depicting the adventures of fictional character Becky Bloomwood. Kinsella is a celebrated chicklit author, she also writes under her real name, Madeleine Wickham. Both aliases have a completely different style of writing, as Sophie Kinsella she writes with an insiders sense of humour and brilliant comic edge. ‘Can you keep a secret?’ was actually the first book I ever laughed out loud to. Slightly embarrassing as I was on a crowded train, but also very fitting of the characters in Sophie’s books. It’s no secret she’s in my list of top ten writers, and in the article, in this paragraph, she proves why I hold her in such high esteem.
During the interview, Sophie says “You can be highly intelligent, and also ditzy and klutzy. You can be unable to cook, you can like lipstick. And I think it’s more realistic to represent women having all these facets, than to say, OK, you’re intelligent, so I’ve got to write you as all competent, which I think is an unfair ideal. To have someone who never makes a mistake, never finds her personal life in disarray, never worries about work-life balance? I think that would be unreal. What I’m writing is real.”
I couldn’t agree with her any more, Kinsella writes real high-achieving women. She writes the kind of women you’d be friends with, women you like. I have tons of friends like her characters, I recognise myself in plenty too. When it comes to me, i’m the first person to admit my flaws and my imperfections. I know I’m never going to be the most super organised woman around, but you know what? I don’t really care. Because I know my strengths and my perfections and the things that make me who I am. I’m real. I may walk around with my skirt accidentally tucked into my pants, say the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time, get too drunk, burn vegetables, spend too much money on clothes/make-up, cry over pictures, have too many ‘oh f*ck, how am I getting myself out of this?’ moments, wear shoes that make me fall over, and generally make myself look silly, and while all those things combined make me a great dinner guest, they do not make me any less of an achiever. Sometimes you need your pants tucked into your skirt to enable you to run fast!
Typically in books the high-flying, career focussed, high achieving woman is depicted as a hair scraped back, glasses wearing, pinched face, double crossing, sense of humour and female friend lacking, gym bunny with an agenda. But Kinsella writes real high achieving women.
I recently met Michelle Mone, who has had a bit of a rough time in the media lately. She gave an inspiring talk that proved she’s as down to earth as the next woman, just juggling life at full speed. You do the best you can, when you can. I thought Michelle was really nice, I had the opportunity to speak to her after the talk and I liked her. She seemed pretty real. She opened the talk by saying she was not having a great day and had wanted to cancel. Pretty honest thing to say to a room full of knowledge thirsty delegates. She went on to detail the ups and downs of her Ultimo business, and some professional and personal things too. As a business woman, I take my hat of to Michelle. I couldn’t help but feel inspired by her. To achieve anything in life, you need balls of steel, a strong backbone and you also need a determination that’s not always going to show the best side of you, that may get you into trouble, but as long as you keep your karma clear, you’re headed the right way. It’s okay to be confident and sassy and laugh off what you cannot change. It’s good to be real!