This should probably be dealt with in therapy, but I don’t have a therapist, so here goes

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I’ve had a shitty last six months.

I mean, it’s not normal to want to burst into tears (and occasionally do so) whenever someone asks a simple “how are you,” right?

Well, that’s been my normal for quite some time…

I discovered after the first book release how very much I loved the highs that came along with publishing a book. Sure, there were lows last year – that time a single person came to a reading comes to mind – but there were enough highs to balance them out. Hitting the New York Times list! Going on a book tour! Earning out my advance! Selling the foreign rights! The highs were so, so high. And I became completely addicted to them.

They ended abruptly, however, and over the summer I called my agent and told her I was bored. Nobody wanted to interview me or have me speak at events or do readings anywhere, I whined. I missed the excitement; the roller coaster ride I’d been spoiled by. Write another book, she responded simply. So I did.

After the hard part – the writing- was over, I excitedly prepared for the release. No longer a first time author, I knew exactly what to expect this time. It would be bigger and better than the last one. Bring on the highs, universe! I was ready with a capital R.

Unfortunately, those highs I’d been craving never came. That second book? It turned out to be nothing but lows. Low after low after low that kicked my sorry ass.

It began immediately before the release date when I was informed that because of a dispute with my publisher, Simon and Schuster, Barnes and Noble would be pulling all of my books – along with those from many other of their authors – from store shelves. Like, every store shelf. No in-store promotion, no on-line promotion, no Barnes and Noble book tour. Just like that. I was asked not to talk about the whole mess, so I didn’t. Focus on Amazon sales, put on a happy face and move forward, I was advised. So that’s what I tried to do.

The first week’s performance was dismal. And it only got worse.

It could have been the Barnes and Noble thing. Or the bombings at the Boston Marathon that happened shortly after. Or the abundance of similar themed books to come out at the same exact time. Perhaps it was just too soon for another book or maybe I was just meant to be a one hit book wonder.

Whatever it was, while the first book’s sales were strong enough to safely assume there’d be a follow up, the second one was making it pretty clear there wouldn’t be a third. I felt rather like I’d been hit by a train. How’d that happen when I signed up for a fucking roller coaster?

And the lows just kept on coming. The amazing 20/20 segment my community members and I filmed was killed because it was simply too… positive. It wasn’t juicy enough; not salacious enough to make good TV. The press coverage I was promised never came through. Books never arrived to several events I appeared at, so even though I had a captive audience, I was unable to actually sell them books. I tried to maintain a sense of humor and perspective over it all, but without the highs to balance out the lows, book number two became nothing but a failure to me.

Time after time, I was advised not to talk about the negative stuff on the site. Nobody likes a loser; if you appear successful, you’ll be successful, I was told. So, I stayed mum and hoped the book would somehow turn itself around, and every week it didn’t, another little piece of my self-worth would chip away.

This blog — the one place I’ve always been honest and nothing but — became somewhere I suddenly had to fake it. I built a whole community based on telling the truth, and here I was unable to address any of the feelings and disappointments I was dealing with. I’d write stupid fluffy pieces, unable to go any deeper because deeper was the bad stuff I wasn’t supposed to talk about. It felt dishonest to write anything substantial without really delving into what I was dealing with. So I slowly disappeared, adding more and more contributors to the roster to write words that I could not.

I am proud that this site has become so community driven. There are countless things I can’t write about anymore – pregnancy seems like a lifetime ago, and my kids are at an age where I’m not willing to share each and every little thing that they go through. I love having other women fill that void and add perspectives that I am unable to. But, at the same time, I missed having a voice here, too, and I started to resent the site because of it. The site I built; the site I love.

This probably sounds utterly shallow and ridiculous. Maybe you’re rolling your eyes and filing this under “Problems Entitled Bitches Have.” I’ve been so lucky to even publish two books and things certainly could be a hell of a lot worse. But, right or wrong, the last six months have beaten me down. It’s been six months of putting on a happy face and not burning bridges and doing what I was told.

It’s been six months too long. And I’m done.

I’m finally ready to crawl out of the hole I’ve put myself in. I want to feel the pride I once felt here instead of drowning under the weight of disappointment. I want to write again, instead of feeling nothing but insecurity and deleting posts before publishing them, hiding behind the role of editor. I want to be inspired and excited and positive, and I don’t think I can do that unless I come clean with you all about how it’s been.

So, there you have it; the honest to goodness truth from me, for a change. Halle-fucking-lujah.

Onward and upward, my friends. It’s time.

Oops… I Did It Again

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Remember how I said that writing a book was just like having a baby? It really, really was. From the sleepless nights to the obsessing over every little thing to life never being the same since.

Well, I have a new point to add to that list: Amnesia.

You know how you block out exactly how miserable the aches and pains of pregnancy were? How you immediately forget the disgustingness that is childbirth? How those miserable nights with a newborn don’t really stick in your brain and just the sweet breathing and precious little bodies do?

I’ve similarly forgotten just how crazy the book writing process made me and have found myself aching for a new bundle of joy. The new release table gives me baby fever and I caress the cover of my book the way I used to old onsies and baby booties.

Somehow, I became addicted to the insanity that is book publishing and am excited to announce that I am book-knocked up all over again! My amazing agent and wonderful team at Simon and Schuster are along for the ride and we expect our little delivery, Motherhood Comes Naturally (And Other Vicious Lies), in the spring/summer of 2013…

big-sister-508x525The roller coaster begins again.

(Anyone have a barf bag?)

Shameless

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I’ve long acknowledged that having children was the end of any sense of modesty for me. Shitting on the delivery table? Yup, that put the kabbash on that.

Writing a book, however, brought me to a whole new level.

I am now completely and utterly shameless. This, my friends, is how I now spend my days…

How I wish I were kidding.

In the last couple weeks, I’ve begun accosting innocent strangers who shall now associate Barnes and Noble with crazy ladies. I’ve made it a habit to visit at least one bookstore a day, so I can rearrange the store displays. I sneak in Sharpies to sign copies which I haven’t been asked to sign. I shove the book in people’s faces so they have no choice but to see it.

I’ve officially gone crazy.

So, please… just buy the book.

Don’t make me come and find you.

Writing a Book is Like Having a Baby

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Baby-reading

Last week, it dawned on me that it had been exactly nine months since I signed my book deal. Nine months of stress and excitement and worry and exuberance and everything in between. It seemed perfectly fitting that the gestation period so closely echoed my pregnancies, since the book really has become my fourth child. But, the timing is the very least of it. Everything about coming out with this book has been like having a baby…

1. It’s nothing like I expected. I imagined pregnancy and childbirth to be this miraculous event where I would suddenly just feel like an earth goddess and be encompassed in pure maternal love and joy. Just like I envisioned myself suddenly all intellectual and shit once I became a published author. Hardly the case with either. I hated every minute of pregnancy and got scolded at a reading for swearing too much. Nothing changes.

2. I’m obsessed. I must have sent out ten e-mails a week when Lily was a newborn with pictures and updates, driving everyone in my life crazy. She was all I could talk about, write about and think about… Sound familiar? Remember when I used to write about something other than the book?!

3. People tell me more than I care to know. Take for example, this email I received from a man I don’t know in Utah: “I am so sorry to do this, I promise, but since I’m a guy I’m going to “go there,” that purple seemingly “leather” dress? outfit? is not something that you want to wear on TV with the orange sweater over it, it doesn’t fit and it reflects the TV lights. Don’t forget what TV does….” Um, did I ask? I didn’t ask people what they thought of my baby names or the fact that I formula fed and I certainly don’t recall asking people what they thought of my dress.

4. I use the baby as an excuse. You know that haze you walk around in when you have an infant and everyone just understands because you have a new baby at home? I’m in that delirious phase again, except my baby doesn’t spit up or need diaper changes.

5. The lows, are LOW. Like the Concord, New Hampshire, book signing/reading, where ONE person showed up. I think a good rule of thumb is that you should never have fewer people at your book signing than the number of people who watched your bruised vagina push out a newborn. Sitting at an entry table accosting innocent strangers to buy your book is even lower than having a meltdown when the mailman asks when you’re due as the two month old baby sits in the next room. Not so much fun.

6. The highs are high. The sleepless nights, crying fits and utter frustration suck, but then you have that moment of peacefully holding your sweet baby and they all wash away. The last few months have been some of the most stressful of my life. That NH reading kicked my ass, but the two readings following in Warwick, RI and Burlington, MA were so much fun and more than made up for it.

7. The “it” moment. For me, it was the moment each of my kids flashed me that first smile. Nothing but pure and utter joy. With this baby, it was finding out that I hit next week’s New York Times Best Seller’s list late last night. Holy shit!!!!! 

And, thank you. I could never have done this without your support.

Mommy Gone Crazy

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I ran into an acquaintance at school the other day. Barely slowing down our respective paces in the hallway, she quickly noted, “the book’s coming out soon — excited!?”

“Yes!” I’m sure she expected to hear. “I’m super excited,” as we each made our way towards the parking lot. Of course I would be excited about my upcoming book release. What else would I possibly be feeling? It was the equivalent of asking “how are you” and anticipating a “fine” in response. Practically obligatory.

Unfortunately for this acquaintance, I’m a bit of an over-sharer. And also, a bit of a mess.

“Excited? Um, I wouldn’t say that’s the word, exactly” I began, dropping my bag onto the ground.

“Actually,” I sighed, I’m totally freaking out.”

“I mean, what if the book doesn’t sell? I put so much of myself into it, what if people don’t relate? What if nobody wants to help spread the word? What if the critics tear it apart? What if my publisher is disappointed with the sales? What if I make a fool of myself when I’m promoting it? What if I get stage fright at a reading?

I took a breath.

“I know, I know, it’s great to just have written a book and I should just appreciate that and enjoy the ride. Who cares if it doesn’t do well? I’ll survive, right? I know. But I can’t enjoy it. I don’t know why I can’t, but I can’t.”

I sighed and leaned against the wall for support.

“I am excited, I guess, but there are just so many other emotions, too. I’m just not used to this kind of pressure, you know? I’m not normally accountable like this and I don’t think it’s good for me. It’s scary. I mean—”

“Ah! Hold on a sec,” the acquaintance interrupted me as she fumbled for her completely silent phone.

“I think I heard this ring and it must be important. Oh, it is. Very important. Good luck!”

She bolted off without looking back, whispering to an imaginary friend about an imaginary emergency that took her away from a very real crazy person. I haven’t seen her since and I’m pretty sure she switched pre-schools just to avoid another potential run-in with me. Can’t say I blame her at all.

The moral of the story is: Don’t ask how I’m feeling about the book unless you really want to know the answer. And, you don’t. Trust me.

Squeeeee!!!

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You know how people write out WOOT!!! on-line, but you can never really imagine them saying it? Because they don’t, in real life, ever?

It’s the same with squeeeee!! What is squeeeeeing, exactly? And, who actually squeeeees? Nobody, right? Yet we see it online constantly.

Well, I’ll tell you a secret: I do. Squeeeee, that is, and I’ve been doing a lot of it lately. Outloud.

SQUEEEEE!!!!

.confessions
Sorry, I’m just so excited to have you finally see the cover of my book, due out April 3.  I’m better now.

(Actually, I’m not. As Jeff can attest, I have completely entered the “holy shit I wrote a book and now I need to sell it” phase. He can also attest that it ain’t pretty.)

SQUEEEEE!!!

Apologies, again.

I really hope you’ll like it. I’m pretty sure you will. Plus, it’s a mere ten bucks and is eligible for free shipping.

So, go! Before I squeeeee again.

SQUEEEEE!!!!

(Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Writing In The Digital Age

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So, I’m writing that book. Twelve chapters down and twelve to go. My deadline? Two weeks. Now, I’m not great with math, but I’m pretty sure that’s not an enviable situation. Perhaps my method of writing is the problem. It goes something like this…

Walk the dog, make the lunches, pack the bags, get the kids dressed, drive them to school and come back home.

Open up the computer and write a sentence.

Suddenly, see an e-mail alert. Know I should ignore it, but what if it’s important? It would be irresponsible not to at least check it.

See that it’s a Groupon. Maybe not vital, but certainly time sensitive. I debate for five minutes if saving thirteen dollars at a restaurant I’ve never planned on eating at is worth it. I decide that, indeed, it is.

Purchase the Groupon.

Tap nails on the keyboard while waiting for the credit card to clear.

Crack a nail. Dammit.

Head upstairs for nail file and pass a towel on the floor.

The towel reminds me that I have laundry in the washing machine which needs to be dried.

Put laundry in dryer.

Empty lint tray.

Take lint into bathroom to throw away and glance in the mirror. Shit, when did my eyebrows start looking like that?

Pluck. Pluck. Pluck.

Study face. Is that really what I look like?

Note to self: Invest in some wrinkle cream, STAT.

Wrinkle cream is expensive. Need to make money. Ahhh, the book. Have to write the book to get the money. Crap.

Go downstairs and stare at previously written sentence. Doesn’t seem so genius upon reflection. Delete it.

Write another one.

And another one.

Watch me go! I’m in the zone.

Another sentence.

Was that noise my stomach? Yes, it was. Suddenly, I’m starving and can’t possibly concentrate.

What do I want to eat? Maybe I’ll go on to Twitter for some lunch ideas; I haven’t been there all day.

Log onto Twitter.

Get sucked into the Twitter abyss for 15 minutes. Head starts to pound. Need food.

Make a turkey sandwich and use the last slice of bread.

How do I need more bread already? Jot down a note to stop at the store on the way to get the kids.

Check the fridge and pantry to see what else we’re low on. Quite a bit, it seems. Rewrite list on larger piece of paper. Bread, milk, paper towels, laundry detergent and Cheerios.

Stomach again.

Need drink with lunch. Open soda. Put can into recycling and notice it’s overflowing.

Take out recycling.

Notice plants are dying and water them, reflecting on what a terrible idea plants are for a mother of three.

Sit back down at the computer with soda and sandwich.

Realize it’s been five days since  last blog post.

Attempt to start a post.

Nothing.

Go back to the chapter.

Nothing.

Check Facebook.

Check e-mail.

Check confessional.

Check community.

Comment, delete, delete, comment.

Bounce between post and book for nearly an hour, completing neither one.

Notice that it’s time to leave to get the kids and I missed my window to grocery shop. How did that happen?

Still have no chapter, no blog post and now no food.

Vow to be more productive tomorrow.

Repeat.

Repeat.

Repeat.

Lord, help me.

A Scene

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HOME. SURROUNDED BY WET POOL TOWELS, AN OVERFLOWING SINK OF DIRTY DISHES AND MASS CHAOS.

Lily, screaming at the top of her lungs for an unknown reason.

Evan, naked, running circles around the house chanting “I have a big booty” repeatedly.

Ben, wearing 6 pairs of socks, attempting to skate across the family room floor.

Enter the babysitter.

Evan shrieks, “No!”

Ben announces that he has to make a big poop.

Lily stomps upstairs.

Pandemonium ensues.

Me: “Guess what?! Never mind, you’ll never guess, so I’ll just tell you. It’s crazy! I just landed a book deal. A real, live book deal!”

Ben yells from the bathroom, “Mommy, come here fast! I need you to wipe me.”

Evan sticks his finger in his nose and examines the contents. He wipes them on my jeans and walks away.

Lily discovers that her computer game has been turned off and informs me that I am the worst mother in the world.

Sitter: “Wow! That’s so exciting! What’s the book about?”

Ben: “I don’t think you wiped me all the way, I feel poop in my tushy.”

Lily: “Did you not hear me? I said you are the meanest mother ever. Meaner than any of my friend’s parents. Meaner than Miss Hannigan. Meaner than a witch. Just so so so mean.”

Uncomfortable silence.

Me: “Um, parenting…”

Sitter: Blank stare.

End scene.

{This is not a work of fiction. Confessions of a Scary Mommy available from Simon & Schuster, April 2012. Eeek! }