Eight years ago, my boyfriend and I were talking about the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain. McCain had just chosen Sarah Palin for his vice presidential running mate and I voiced my concern regarding her candidacy. My boyfriend’s response: Let’s be real here. The only reason you don’t like Sarah Palin is she’s SO hot.
I remember thinking two things:
The idea was not entirely original. A close friend had mentioned an acquaintance who was writing a book about her dating misadventures. Of course, this person had the idea first and I did not want to take it from her. I was relieved when my friend reassured me her acquaintance was no longer working on her book. (She must have found a guy!) The field was wide open.
Writing and illustrating a book is an enormous undertaking so I needed to think carefully about whether I was willing to take it on. The pros were:
1.) Books had helped me enormously during difficult periods in my life. Years earlier, I had been in the midst of a very tough pregnancy and a friend gave me Dave Barry’s hilarious book: Babies and Other Hazards of Sex. This book portrayed the realities of pregnancy with cartoons of Lamaze classes, barfing, huge weight gains, and labor. It made me giggle and feel so much better.
I had a similar experience after a devastating breakup. I was bereft and became an insomniac feeling sick to my stomach most of the time. My only relief was reading the book: It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt. The chapters about psycho breakups and drinking-and-dialing made me laugh out loud and feel so much better. I must have read it 100 times.
I wanted to do, for single women, what these two books had done for me in pregnancy and heartbreak. I wanted to create a book about all the really funny parts of being single and make my reader laugh. I envisioned it as one’s go-to book after a really bad date. It could be a mini-vacay from dating reality!
2.) I looked carefully at the demographics and was encouraged by the numbers. There are now more singles than marrieds and with a 50% divorce rate providing new entries into the single column daily, my potential reader base was huge.
3.) I love writing and drawing.
4.) My cartoons had been published in the Orange County Register and miscellaneous newsletters. I didn’t totally suck.
5.) Twenty-five years ago, I had accomplished the impossible. My joke was published in Reader’s Digest. They had sent me a bumper stick reading: I found money, fame, and glory. Reader’s Digest published my story. If I could do that, I could do this. Right?!
6.) There were so many directions I could take this topic. I could make it as big or as little as I wanted.
7.) I would learn a lot and meet many new and interesting people.
8.) If the book did really well, I could affect change. Maybe I could create a greater acceptance for women’s choices. Maybe people would stop asking or thinking: Why aren’t you married? Or better yet, maybe the sympathetic looks would end at those high school reunions. ;-)
9.) If the book did REALLY well, I could give significant support for organizations like Rylie’s Angels.
10.) I love the idea of books. I didn’t want them to die away. I wanted to be part of their resurgence.
11.) And last but not least, it would push me to get out there and date. After all, how could I write about dating if I was not doing it myself?!
Next week: How does one go about writing a book?!