The first pass pages just arrived of Why Moms Are Weird. This is the first time it really looks like a book, with justified margins and special fonts for the chapter headings, and a dedication all in bold.
This is when I somehow get even more nervous, because that means it’s only a few short months now before someone like you can hold it in your hands, take it into your bed, and judge me.
I just finished Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants, and when I first started reading it, I found myself rolling my eyes, thinking, “Why does she have to say, ‘I love me some ___’ all the time? It totally undercuts the point she’s making.” And then I thought about how using the word “totally” undercut the thought I just had. And while I was wondering why Jill Soloway’s book about being a television writer in Los Angeles who grew up a bit of a freaky outsider, wondering how to fake her way into looking like a real girl and still doesn’t exactly understand how to be a woman (but certainly knows how to talk when sitting with a group of men), was making me feel like I was reading a blog instead of a book of essays I started to realize that the uneasiness I was feeling wasn’t because I didn’t like the book — it was because it felt like I was reading something I wrote. It was someone telling me what it was like to be me back to me. And that’s really bizarre, because I have no recollection of writing this essay, but at a certain point when she’s talking about how she can’t wear pointy shoes because she looks like the wicked witch, so she wears these clunky Steve Madden mary janes she calls “clodhoppers” — she’s describing in detail the exact same pair of clunky Steve Madden mary janes that I wear. And my mom would call them “clodhoppers.”
One chapter was about a bar she loved going to before it turned into a hipster bar. It was the bar I had just visted for the first time the night before. And then she talks about her stage shows getting her work on sitcoms and buying her first house in east LA and how it has lots of grass and a tree but is the size of a dollhouse and I keep thinking, “This is really weird.”
That’s when I realized my initial repulsion to her writing. I think if I could meet me, I’d be rolling my eyes five minutes into the conversation. I understand the person I am, but I don’t think I’d want to hang out with her for extended periods of time. But the more I read, the more I started to like Jill and her sense of humor, even though she likes to talk about her poop, and I started thinking about the response I always give when people ask me if I do stand-up.
“Oh, no,” I always say. “I am terrified of that. I’ll do a one-person show, but not stand-up. I can’t get anyone to like me in seven minutes. But give me forty, and I’m gold.”
So now I’m going to read my new novel again, searching for typos, trying to ignore the inner critic who thinks, “Everybody’s going to put this down after page three. You are a crazy woman.” Because every other time I’ve read this thing (and we’re way into double digits now), I’m suddenly on page one hundred without noticing any time has passed.
Anyway, that Jill Soloway book is great, and if you’re one of the people who has written to me asking for advice in this crazy industry, please buy it and read the appendices.