Slogging Toward Published Writerhood
Writing a book sounded like a great idea. Two years later, though…
I’m editing my first book. I wrote the book as well but I’m in the process of editing it and it’s turning out to be far more work than I expected. Over the past 4 years, I wrote a series of dating advice articles on my blog, Kitten Holiday. Most posts were for women, but some were directed at men. The articles had more to do with understanding our own and other’s desires and motivations and how to read people than to do with specifics about dating. Most people know how to plan a date, dress nice, and interact with someone of the opposite sex. What people don’t know anymore is how to interpret someone’s behavior, words or texts.
Writing the book came easy
What did he mean by this? Why did she do this? There is a stage of constant analysis with reading and reading into the actions and words of a romantic interest in the beginning stages of dating. It’s obsessive. It’s destructive. And worst of all, it’s counter-intuitive. Most people are not doing what they think they are doing. They are not, in fact, trying to understand why someone would say or do something. They are trying, with their constant analysis to turn the obvious into the subtle, to layer possibilities and nuance and meaning into an interaction so that they can manipulate something they don’t want to believe into something that is pleasing or exciting to them.
Friend: Why do you think he hasn’t responded to my text?
Me: Because you don’t matter that much to him.
Friend: But, I mean, I know he’s really busy. He is probably working. I am being too needy. I should back off until he texts.
This is the kind of mental gymnastics many go through to turn a situation with no promise into something they can cling to for weeks and months until it crashes and burns and they are heartbroken asking again, why? What is wrong with me?
“What’s wrong with you is you don’t see what is obvious and right in front of you,” is what I could say.
“What is wrong with you is that you are human and you want what you want and you will create a possibility where it doesn’t exist so you can hang on to hope,” is another way of saying the same thing.
We are all like this. We all see what we want to see until the truth is so blatant and painful we have no option but to face it. And then, to recover and heal, we start to see everything we once painted pink in stark reality. We look back on every interaction seeing only the bad and we demonize the person who yesterday we canonized.
My book is an attempt to show readers not how to read text messages or interpret the stars or spin interactions into what we want to see, but to help explain how to ground ourselves in reality so we don’t get carried away recklessly. I could see these things, and the reality I describe is the reality of what men and women want, why it is important to recognize our differences, and how to use this knowledge to better appreciate each other and not deceive ourselves.
Editing is Hard
When I decided to edit these essays and publish them as a book, I thought it would be so easy. The work was already done. I had over two years of essays to choose from. All I would have to do is put them in a readable order, double check for typos and boom! Published! It’s not been that easy.
For starters, on a blog, you only worry about the post you are writing at the moment. And each of my posts reflected the mood, writing style, perspective I carried at that moment. In some pieces I addressed men, in others I addressed women. In some, I wrote with a snarky, aggressive tone, in others I wrote in a compassionate tone. Shuffle these all together and you have a giant mess.
The next challenge was that when the pieces were set in order, there were several missing subjects. How can I talk about online dating but not mention texting and first dates? How can I write so much about how to spot someone who is not right for you but not a single essay on how to break up with someone? And why are there so many essays on the same subject from a different angle? Apparently, I had a few subjects I loved to write about because I wrote about them all the time. This wasn’t a problem in a blog where the articles would come out several months apart, but in a 120-page book having a chapter that is 50 pages long on one subject seems out of balance. I have to fix all of this.
- I have to find a consistent tone
- I have to put the pieces in order with a sensible narrative
- I have to make sure the chapters are balanced.
Now, I’m kind of sick of it! I wrote what I wanted to write when I wrote it. Now I want to write other things. I have limited time to write and an abundance of ideas. But here I am, stuck rereading essays from years ago, massaging them, ordering them, cleaning them up and even rewriting some of them. How many things interest you in a passionate, consuming way for four years? I can tell you that, for me, it is not much. Some days I feel like I am just wasting my time.
The Irony of writing a dating advice book: I’m all work and no play
To make matters worse, as a single mother of two kids with vibrant social lives and activities, a full time job and a house and dog to take care of, I am already stretched super thin on time and energy. To devote the time necessary to this project I have all but completely given up my social life for over a year now. No parties with friends, no nights out, no dating, no hanging out, no lazy Sundays, no chill Saturdays no nothing. It has been all work and no play. And no sleep and no exercise for that matter. And most days, no fun! I don’t like editing. I like writing! Not editing. I think I even hate editing! Make it stop!
It’s been a lot of work. The good news is that I’m getting close. I hope to have a solid draft finished by the end of this month so I can send it to readers for feedback. Assuming (I hope, I hope!) the feedback is not too overwhelming, I intend to publish the book somewhere near Valentine’s day.
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