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I wrote a book
On dreams becoming reality
I had two newsletters in the works for today. One was all about the nuts and bolts of the influencer economy, and the other was an analysis of Catherine Newman’s absolutely revelatory home tour featured this week on Cup of Jo. If you haven’t already checked it out, please trust me when I say you will love it.
But neither of these pieces are ready yet. In part because I’m still collecting source material, in part because I’ve spent most of this week as a summer camp chauffeur (can someone PLEASE invent a summer camp Uber that is also free?!), and in part because my (pretty much final) book edits are due to my publisher in less than two weeks. For those of you who are reading this and have somehow escaped me bleating on about my book, I wrote a book! It’s called Momfluenced: Inside the Maddening, Picture-Perfect World of Mommy Influencer Culture, and it’s coming out next spring. I’m proud and terrified and still pinching myself, but yeah, I wrote a book.
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Writers are a quirky bunch, so it’s no surprise we all have our firmly rooted preferences when it comes to actually getting the words out of our bodies and into a google doc or onto a piece of paper. I know lots of writers who feel uniquely grounded and connected to their inner worlds when they hand-write drafts in notebooks, but I’ve never been that type of writer. My handwriting can’t keep up with my thoughts (not that these thoughts are brilliant by any means, but they do tend to move quickly), and maybe it’s because I had a very fastidious typing teacher in 8th grade, but typing feels like a fluid extension of my brain in a way that writing stuff out by hand just doesn’t. Plus my hand cramps.
I also know a ton of writers who swear by hard-copy edits. They print out copies of first and second and third drafts to best catch typos, awkward turns of phrase, over-dependence on writerly crutches, facile conclusions, whatever. These writers argue that editing hard copies is superior (or at least different in an important way) than scanning and rescanning a document on one’s computer (over and over and over again). But for whatever reason (laziness? obstinacy? a lack of curiosity?) I’ve never done a ton of hard copy edits.
I have written many drafts of Momfluenced.
I wrote several shitty first drafts seen only by myself. These drafts consisted of quoted passages from books and articles piled on top of each other, blocks of free form musings, notes to myself which would read: “get better source” or “make a clearer connection” or “follow up on this” or “double check this” “is this boring?” and lots and lots of TK TK TK TK.
I wrote not-as-shitty second drafts that I sent to dear writer friends who did what dear writer friends do: gushed about stuff they loved and gave smart feedback about how to make other stuff better.
Then I wrote the “This is as good as I can make it and also I can’t look at this thing anymore or my head will explode” first “official” draft for my wonderful editor Maya at Beacon. Maya responded to that draft with brilliant comments which made my second official draft infinitely stronger. I sent her the second draft. Then Maya sent shorter, more technical notes, and I responded to those edits with a third draft. Finally, this draft went to the copy editors at Beacon, who sent me a fourth draft to review by August 23rd.
This is, in most meaningful ways, the last time I will really dig my hands into the book. While I know I will never think to myself, ahhhh unadulterated literary perfection! when it comes to the book (or anything else I write), I do (rather desperately and earnestly) want Momfluenced to be as good as it possibly can be.
So I printed the thing.
And guess what? All my writer friends who swear by hard copy editing? They were right! Reading my book (I still can’t believe this massive pile of paper is “my book”) the way I read “real books”—that is, by holding a physical object in my hands and making sense of the words typed onto that physical object unencumbered by tabs, text notifications, social media alerts, or the lure of Wordle—it’s allowing me to view syntax, word choice, and even paragraph spacing in a whole new light. Suddenly it’s crystal clear that a certain sentence needs to stand by itself, be granted room to breath away from the busyness of the prior paragraph. Suddenly it’s clear that a certain sentence amounts to little more than a word salad and should be cut. Suddenly it’s clear that one of my writer crutches is to repeat words and sentence syntax to create some sort of intended narrative effect!
This is all to say that I’m trying to not apologize for not completing a “real” newsletter this week while simultaneously trying to catch hold of this brief moment in my life as a writer. I wrote a book. And soon that book will be out in the world and I’ll have no control over how it’s received, how it impacts readers, or who will read it. But for right now, for a little bit longer, I am trying to soak up the joy of authorial polishing, I’m trying to be alive to the weight of an accomplishment I’ve worked years to achieve.
I wrote a book.
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