I met Jennifer Weiner yesterday! I attended her book signing at Sixth and I, and I was shocked by just how dynamic, engaging and hilarious a speaker she was. She spent the first 10 minutes telling us stories about her mother coming out in her 50s as a lesbian to JW and her siblings, and then to her mom (JW’s “nanna”). Then we heard about her life in Hollywood–JW wrote a series with Raven Simone about a “regular,” non-skinny girl for a while–, which became the impetus for the book she was promoting, The Next Best Thing.
From the outside, one might not expect that I would be such a big JW fan, because I don’t fit the mold—I’m not Jewish, I was never plus sized and I’m not from Philadelphia–but I don’t think JW’s goal was necessarily to be a role model or an icon in those communities (although she has become just that). She just wanted to write stories about women. Those other characteristics are relevant to her books and success, but ultimately secondary. That’s why women like me can relate…I think.
But anyway, yes, JW spoke to me, she really did. Literally. But also figuratively. Literally, I asked a question about why she thinks the few people who were able to overcome the barriers of the industry were able to do it. Terry McMillan (Waiting to Exhale, How Stella Got Her Groove Back) went mainstream—why her and not other black female authors? Since JW had been talking about Hollywood, she referred to the philosophy of Shonda Rhimes (African American Grey’s Anatomy creator) to just cast the best character and not think about those things. JW said Shonda takes a post-racial approach. She writes whatever makes sense to her. In real life, it’s actually not so crazy for a person to have a good friend of another race, for example. So I guess if JW feels like writing a Lady Lit book (as opposed to a commentary on race) about a black girl and white girl who are friends, she just will. At least I think that’s what she was saying. Well, that’s what I took from it.
Figuratively, JW spoke to me when she discussed what drives her. She said she just wanted to write a story about life as a woman. Not necessarily chick lit, but something distinctly female. If (and this is my interpretation now) she ends up providing commentary on society, that’s cool, but that’s not going to stop her from referencing the Bachelorette (or Bravo?) for example. In real life, women watch that trash and do other embarassing things. It’s more authentic to just embrace them and to write about whatever she wants to write about. The intellectualness comes out in the good writing, in my opinion. What do others think?
Anyway, when I got my book signed I asked if her she remembered retweeting me and all. I don’t think she did; however, she might have, if I had more time to remind her, but there was a line of 100 people. Still she told me to tweet her again, so I will! 🙂 Holllerrr