The Writing Process – Scary Mommy

The Writing Process

Writing a book is just like having a baby, and other things you should know about the oh so lovely writing process.

writing-a-book

Everything I Learned About Writing a Book… The Hard Way

I get more questions on the book writing process than anything else these days, so it seemed to make sense to put everything I’ve learned out there for anyone who’s interested. I would never claim to know everything about the publishing process and there are a lot of things that I can’t teach you. Finding an agent, […]

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

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.

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.

Writing a Book is Like Having a Baby

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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 a book is 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.

Mommy Gone Crazy

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.”

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