I’ve been testing out those words on family and friends recently, I tossed them out into social media earlier this week, and it’s time to put them down here, my original and reliably always-there place for writing.
Hey, friends. It has been a long time. Guess what! I am writing a book. I have no agent, publisher or deadlines, but I have a lot of what it takes to write a book, and I’ll figure out the rest as I go.
Has it really been a year since my last entry? That’s incredible. I should probably feel guilty about that, but I don’t. As you might remember, I’ve been struggling with what I want this space to be. More than that, I’ve been struggling with what I want to be as a writer.
That kind of struggle takes time, and no matter how many times I brainstormed ways to write through it, nothing felt genuine.
If I’m not being genuine, I’m not doing it.
Hence, my silence.
For better or for worse, I have decided to step back up to the keyboard and write, write, write. I’m still not entirely sure what my writing will look like, but I have an idea, and that’s enough for me.
But first, a story.
(If you’re looking for something direct, short and sweet, you came to the wrong place. If you’re here for a conversation, get cozy and enjoy.)
Earlier this year, I read something on Twitter that caught my eye. I can’t remember what it was, but I clicked on the profile to see who had written it and found myself on the account of a book agent who specialized in nonfiction books. Interesting. More interesting, the agency touted itself for first-time authors, and their query process was fairly simple. Submit a proposal with your idea and your qualifications, no manuscript or chapter summaries required.
It wasn’t the first time the idea of writing a book had crossed my brain, but it was the first time that writing a book didn’t sound too intimidating and overwhelming to even consider.
I fretted, as I do. I asked for advice, as I do. Then I wrote a query, as I have never ever done, and I started to dream.
Putting myself out there felt good. It felt wild and reckless and risky, but it also felt good.
Even the rejection felt good.
Obviously, I was rejected. What you’re reading would have started differently otherwise, right?
Rejection felt good because it didn’t take the staff long to respond, but respond they did. Their response was personal, it was regretful, and it gave me some insight. Not only did it shed some light on what I would need to do to move forward, the rejection also showed me how much I want this to happen.
I want to write a book. As of now, what I want to start working on is a collection of essays that won’t look terribly different from what you see here. In fact, I am going to pull old content from my blog to include after I edit and add to writing that is admittedly raw and unedited. Much of what I have shared here was written with little to no planning and even less time spent on polishing.
Books require polishing, and before I ever considered myself a writer (something that still sounds foreign at times), I was an editor. Polishing what was already written was my jam.
Don’t worry. I’m not going to lift all the old stuff, shine it up and call it a manuscript. Circling back to my lack of regular activity here in the last few years, one thing is certain: I didn’t stop writing because I have nothing left to say. Quite the opposite, I find myself wanting to write more and more about my early experiences in motherhood, and I’m self-aware enough to know that what I experiences was less than typical, but it’s completely relatable.
If that isn’t book material, what is?
One of the most appealing things about that agency that rejected my proposal was their process. Starting to work with professional book people who know what they’re doing and would guide me from the start sounded like ideal. I don’t know how to write a manuscript. I don’t know how to hone my work so it is book-worthy. I don’t know what to focus on, what not to focus on and how to tie it all together.
The rejection was revealing and uplifting, but it also left me overwhelmed. That’s why it happened in May, and I’m just now writing this in November.
“Just write” sounds like helpful, encouraging, open-ended advice, but for someone like me who loves a good plan, writing with no direction is terrifying.
What I’ve failed for years to realize is that I already have the shell of a book, but it’s not the book I had in mind, and I am fully aware that what I’m starting with is going to evolve with time and, hopefully, a book deal.
For now, the book I am working on is a collection of essays about what it’s like to undergo fertility treatments, experience pregnancy loss, conceive triplets, carry a high-risk pregnancy, fight preterm labor, give birth to premature, extremely low-birth-weight babies, spend nearly 10 weeks with three babies in the NICU and breastfeed preemies/triplets/babies/toddlers.
Among other things.