You see, I have news. Kind of. It's an opportunity that presented itself nearly two months ago, and since it came about because of this blog, it seems appropriate that I should discuss it with you all: I've been asked to write a book.
Now, I've actually never had any aspirations to write a book. None at all. I like to write and love to read, but I've never thought much of combining the two- at least not beyond blogging (which is only Writing in the loosest sense, as the grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and frequent run-on sentences sprinkled throughout my archives prove; I'm a much more precise and careful writer at work, I promise) and the writing I do at work (I just published another article on that front actually, but they're short and extremely legal). This would be longer (much longer) and more personal and the sheer magnitude of it scares me.
There are other things that scare me about it as well. Mainly, the proposed topic. It's probably easiest to just copy the email that was sent to me by the agent. She's a fellow UChicago law grad who now works at a well known literary agency in New York (they represent several of our RRA authors, funny enough, not that mine would be in that category):
". . . I don’t remember how I first discovered it, but I’ve been reading your blog for years now — since you were going through everything with DCFS — and I’m a big fan of you and your writing. I honestly don’t know how you have the time to write so consistently with two kids and an incredibly demanding job, but I’m glad you do! A new post from you is always the highlight of my day.
I’m writing to you now because I’m wondering if you’ve ever been approached by an agent about writing a book. As I said, I think your writing is very strong, and I believe that you have a story to tell. I envision the book centering around what you went through with DCFS and Landon, but more broadly about your life in general—meeting JP in college, getting married young, having a family and facing these huge grown-up problems. . ."
She adds that I could probably repurpose many of my old blog posts, so it might not be as much work as it sounds, and the blog-to-book genre is very popular right now. I've spoken with her by phone and exchanged a few more emails and she is very excited about the idea, as is her boss (who is the big name agent in the company). In fact I think she might have enough enthusiasm for the both of us, which is probably good because I, I'm just not sure.
Number one, I have a hard time believing anyone would want to read it. I average about 1,000-1,500 hits a day on the blog, but I figure many of those are miss hits, people who know me personally, and people (like me) who enjoy blogs but don't usually read memoirs. I'm trying not to be a wimp and reveal how afraid of failure I am, but well, I don't usually fail and that's partially because I tend to only do things I know I'm good at.
Relatedly, I wonder why anyone would want to read this story. It's sad and scary and depressing. It ends well, of course, but it certainly doesn't fit my personal reading requirements of quick, fluffy, and don't make me think or feel anything too deep.
But let's say I trust my would-be agent and her boss, and move past the insecurities of "but what if no one wants to read it?" The real question is, can I write it? I've now read my archives from that time and I think I can mentally handle going back there. It would almost be like writing a story about someone else - the LL of October 2007. I already think of her as a different person. I have mental impressions from that time that are completely divorced from any feeling or identification with the woman I see sobbing on the floor of our living room in Wicker Park. It's hard to explain, but I view the woman crying on the floor from the outside, not from her perspective. I feel sorry for her, but I don't feel her sadness or fear. Reading my archives actually helped with that. I got caught up in the story and it was so foreign from every other time in my life, it was much easier to read it as someone else's.
So I'm pretty sure I could write it. My next stumbling block is the idea of reducing my life - a life that has otherwise been so perfect and happy and marvelously mundane - to what was really an aberration. Something that shouldn't have happened, that was never explained, and that now has nothing to do with us. That aberration would be my book. The only book I'll probably ever write and probably the future top result when you google my name. Right now it's only "LL" and a DCFS nightmare that are forever connected through google key terms searches. This would be my name. I'd lose a lot of anonymity, and almost certainly the anonymity of my little blog, and you can't get that back.
But now that I'm thinking about all this, I think my two biggest fears boil down to these: (1) a fear that I'll be seen as whoring out this one really shitty time in my life and trying to make it into something bigger, and more dramatic than it really was; and (2) a fear of those interweb whispers, the generally anonymous ones, bringing up doubts and JP and me. Over three years later, there's no solid answer to clear our name and resolve the story- to this day no one knows how Landon's ribs broke, and that question mark haunts me for this project. Not because I have any doubts about us, of course, but because I fear others will. And maybe it's only five out of a million, and maybe they shouldn't matter (well, I know they shouldn't matter)-- but while I think I can handle writing the story, I also know I can't handle the headfuck that is reading someone's doubts about me or JP with regard to it. Although maybe it would be easier now, on this side of things, than it was to read that stuff back when we were in the grips of it.
This all sounds so much more negative than I feel, because despite everything I just wrote, I continue thinking about this hypothetical book every day. When I'm driving, when I'm lying in bed at night... I've planned my first chapter, how I'd progress the story, how I'd end it. I enjoy writing and I've been given an opportunity to do something with it. I've always taken a very predictable, very risk free approach to life, maybe I should be open to this little side path...
It would involve a ton of work, and while I'd have an agent, it's not like there's publishers lined up - there's still plenty of question marks along the way. The biggest one probably being will I even try? Will I take the first step and finally call back my would-be agent (whom I already love for understanding my fears and not pressuring me while still making the occasional contact just to let me know she's still excited on her end) and tell her I'm ready to start putting together a proposal?
I honestly don't know.