Friday, January 15, 2010

Someone Else Wrote My Book

I've wanted to write a nonfiction book about modern motherhood for a long time--three years at least. However, when I first started thinking about it seriously, there were already tons of mothering books on the shelves of local bookstores, and everywhere I looked into the idea, I heard that motherhood writing was all played out. I even read an article--I think it was at Literary Mama?--about how impossible it is these days to get new books about motherhood published. No publishers are interested in such things anymore. Writers on motherhood are rejected all the time. They are told there is no market for another motherhood book.

So I let the years go by--years in which, of course, I was also too busy mothering, birthing, nursing, and suffering intense sleep deprivation to write a book anyway. But even when I thought about it, I told myself what I'd already heard/read: That it would never happen anyway, because no one wants to publish or read another book about any aspect of motherhood.

And then, in the three years since, I've watched plenty of new books about mothering get published. Which kind of makes me frustrated, because I feel like each one of those books should have been me. And yet, because I've let years go by in which I haven't written the book but other women have, now there's even more competition out there on bookstore shelves! And even more fodder for publishing people to say, The market is glutted. We don't need any more motherhood books.

I still want--in theory--to write my motherhood book. I want to combine stay-at-home mom tips/tricks, discussion, and anecdotes with a more self-help, emotional-health spin, stemming from my expertise as a clinical psychologist. (That last part is my unique hook--none of these other books are written by doctoral-level mental-health professionals with specialization in women's health and wellness.) But, even writing the proposal for such a thing is a daunting prospect, and would likely take me months, given my limited time to devote to it (90 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and even that will end in mid-May). I can't decide if it's worth it to try--if only to knock something off my Life Goals list--or if I'd be better off using those three hours a week to sip cappuccinos at the local coffee place, paint the girls' bedroom, or catch up on my sleep. You know?

So. I'm conflicted. I can't help feeling that I missed my chance, three (or more) years ago. I wonder if I even have enough to say. I'm not sure how I feel about the whole endeavor anymore.


latisha said...

i once heard Joe Vitale (the attractor factor) say there's a customer born every minute. i think there's even a book with that title.

there's no such thing as the market is glutted. you've seen the proof. he's a great read when you're feeling this way. he worked/works in advertising but from a spiritual/universe is abundant perspective. it may not be your thing, but he's got expertise and makes great points.

on a personal note. we all have an important story to tell. the point is that we make sure to tell it. maybe it won't get published, maybe just your girls and their girls will read it. but tell it mama. they've earned it. then again, maybe it will, but you don't stand a chance if you don't write it.

Mnmom said...

The need for mothers to have their stories told, and to be vindicated in print, will never die. Mothering will always need a voice.

Now remember to put me in the credits.

Shan said...

Latisa--love your perspective on this, esp. your last paragraph. Never thought about it that way. Margaret--you and Latisha will both be thanked in the Acknowledgments section, along with several other soulmates in parenting! There's nothing like a supportive tribe.

Shan said...

Oops--sorry for the typo in your name, Latisha. I do know how to spell it!

Donna said...

My opinion would be that you should sit down and write the proposal. In doing that, it'll become much clearer whether you'd be happier writing the book or have coffee with friends.

And no matter what you decide, you'll know you made a good decision.

Mom said...

You, my dear daughter, WILL have a unique perspective, as you point out. It is surely worth the work of trying even if, as your online friends point out, it becomes a manuscript/heirloom for your daughters! (Remember "In Mother Words"? Some of that was published work, some not, but all of it is ME! Go for it!!

Mary S. said...

I had a book that I wanted to write about 12 years ago. I didn't think anyone would want to publish it, but dog-gone it, I wanted to write it. So -- after 6 years of procrastination and work -- I did. No one wanted to publish it, so I did. Have I made money off the book? Not really. (And I was fortunate to be able to afford to publish a small run -- which given technology changes since I published my book, would be even less costly now.) Have I sold the book? yes, about 500 copies, which is not going to make me rich or famous, but for whatever reasons I have found the entire experience deeply satisfying, and I am very happy every time I get an order from Amazon.

Write the book you want to write (and expect that it may take a few years), and then worry about publishing. Or, write the proposal, send it out, and start writing the book. You have a sincere, funny, honest approach to motherhood. If you keep plugging away, you will find a way to share it.

Donna said...

This post has stuck with me for a bit and I've been thinking about it. I'd like to retract my previous comment...

You certainly DO have a different and important perspective to share.

And, because I know you, I know you won't stop thinking about the what-ifs until you actually take action and do it. You know you can do it - and well. (and I know you can, too!)

If nothing else, your daughters will have a piece of you and that will be so valuable to them (and their children) when they are mothers. That is a gift like no other.