Thursday, September 9, 2010

Think Small

Think Small

WOW!  What a great time we had in Fresno, Santa Monica, St Paul, COR, Chicago, and back home.

Lots of news and I promise to post more regularly.  (I started a second blog, too, a blog-off with my cousin—well, Matt’s cousin—100 posts in 100 days, as a way to get to read more of his stuff and to write more of my own). 

Boys are doing great, rolling over, stuffing toys into their mouths.  Chiara is just a little grown-up all of a sudden and has started calling me, “Mother,” instead of “Mama.”  Tonight at the dinner table she offered to babysit the boys if Matt and I needed some “alone time together.”  Matt—working like crazy and fitting in sleep here and there.

Me?  Well, I’m busy.  Not just with the twins, but writing about the twins.  This summer I’ve been trying to put these blog posts into a book.  What the book has that the blog doesn’t are the “secrets” that Matt and I used to “hope and cope” during the short pregnancy and the NICU months.  Much of the secrets were found in borrowed from positive psychology research, some were divined through cognitive linguistic analysis, which is so much more fun than it sounds.  It’s sort of a “David Eggers meets Gödel Escher Bach.”  Well, not really.  I don’t know what I’m calling it yet, but now I’m working on the book proposal and I’m hoping that posting for all to see that I’m working on the book proposal will help me to continue working on the book proposal.

Back in May I wrote a sort of mini-proposal and sent it to a fancy New York literary agent who expressed a hint of interest at my cover letter and then rejected the project.  I got the agent’s name from my professor and thesis advisor, who liked some of my sample chapters.  He liked them so much that he gave me the name of a second literary agent, this time somebody local: Andy Ross.  Mr. Ross has a website with a section on how he’d like to see your book proposal.  In fact, he suggests following the advice of fellow Bay Area literary agent, Michael Larsen who wrote the book—get this—How to Write a Book Proposal.

So I got the book.  And I was surprised.  It’s quite helpful.  You see, if you want to buy something: a work of art or a pair of pants, you can know whether or not you want the item just by looking.  But a book—to read a book is to know whether or not you want to have read this book.  And nobody has time for that.  So the book proposal is a shorthand way to show what your book is about without actually having to read it.

Reading this book proposal book has brought something else to my attention: the reason you write a [non-fiction] book is to inform others.  I’m really not writing this book for myself.  That was the blog.  I’m writing the book for everyone out there who has had something bad happen to them.  I want them to know that surviving a trauma is easier than it looks.  And since I’m writing this book for other people, I want my message to be as clear as possible.  And I want as many people as possible to know that this resource (my book) is out there.  Writing this book proposal (or rather, reading about writing this book proposal) is helping me clarify my message.

It’s a little bit daunting.  I was hoping I could just write a manuscript and then say, “Hey, look at this book I wrote.”  But apparently that’s not how it works.  So I decided to “think small.”  Bit by bit.  Piece by piece.  Small things add up.  I’ve been trying to write two hours a day since the twins came home and now I’ve got about 200 pages.  Think small.

Next up:  Chapter One -- My Subject Hook


  1. Based on the comments people made to your blog, you know you helped many people cope with their own problems. You may be thinking small, but your book will really help folks hugely.

    Keep at it.

  2. Which leads me to suggest another great writing resource by one of my favs (and local to you) author, Anne Lamotte, called "Bird by Bird." It's wonderful. I am SO glad you're doing this!! You have a gift to write and while I'm sure your book will be informative, because of your talent it will also be a good, entertaining read. And I am so freakin' impressed you can find 2 hours a day to write...

  3. I have that book! I had to get it for one of my writing classes at Berkeley. I just picked it up again a few months ago. And when things get overwhelming, I literally think to myself . . . take it bird by bird.

  4. I feel so rewarded for checking your blog today! (even though this has been up for a while) Love your blog-off idea and I also look forward to your insiders take at selling your great book idea. -liz

  5. (blog-off address is