I’m working on my second book right now. (Yes, I realize my first one just released. Apparently, I am a total masochist.) A bunch of people have asked if it’s a follow up to Women Are Scary: The Totally Awkward Adventure of Finding Mom Friends.
Ssssort of. In Women Are Scary, I write about relationships with women and spend a little time talking about how to deal with the hard stuff, how to cope with relational upheaval, and how to heal from it. So in my next book, I’m going deeper into the topic of coping and surviving and healing. Like, okay, we’re friends now, so how do we walk through this hard stuff together? I pretty much want to write a book that’s a quirky, irreverent, sometimes inappropriate, encouraging companion for someone going through something hard.
In short, I’m writing a funny book about suffering.
So that should be easy. Last week I got mad at myself for trying to tackle these hard topics, like the awkward relationship struggles between women and how to cope when your life falls apart. Why can’t I just write about cute puppies and how they’re so, so cute, and fuzzy, and warm? Everybody wants a puppy book.
I dunno. I just love people so much and want to see us come together and help each other through hard stuff. And so I write about it and laugh about it and quote movies at it as I wipe boogery tears.
I’m writing about these things that happen, the death of dreams, the things we encounter that we never saw coming, and how we move forward and learn to love our lives, amidst the unfairness and brokenness. In the book, I don’t want easy answers and trite sayings. I want to talk about real pain and living through it.
This topic is so huge and I’m trying to figure out how to write a book for all of us, a friend for people to stick in their purse and take with them to the hospital or the lake. I want it to provide humor in the face of hard times and also real people who have struggled and survived. I want to offer real hope without all the lame sayings we encounter.
Just like with the first book, I need your help. Of course. Because this book is for us all journeying together, and it’s not just about me. If you’ve read Women Are Scary or have at least flipped through it, you know I collected stories of mom dating from so many of you. There are international moms and twin moms and military moms and single moms and homeschool moms and moms of kids with special needs and so many different moms. Well, with this book, I’m looking for stories from you again.
The working title is It’s Not Fair: Learning to Love the Life You Didn’t Choose. I have no idea if it’ll stay that way. (A few of you may remember that Women Are Scary started out as Dating for Moms.) I’m starting with It’s Not Fair, because our kids say it about fifty times a day. So it’s a statement we’re familiar with, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we sometimes feel the same way about our own lives.
This is the working description I’m noodling on:
Sometimes when life falls apart the only acceptable response is hysterical laughter. When things get so far gone, so spectacularly a world away from any plans you made or dreams you dreamed, you feel it bubbling up inside of you and you scream “It’s not fair!” And it isn’t. Fair is an illusion and life is weird. This book will help you laugh at life’s absurd backhands. This book is an empathetic groan of our collective unfairnesses. You might want to throw it across the room, and you might want to hug it like your new best friend. This book is about us sitting down together in our shared mess, taking a deep breath, gripping hands, looking the hard stuff in its beady little eyeballs, and bahahahaaing at it. Life’s not fair, but we can learn to love this life we didn’t choose.
Many authors have addressed disappointment with God and unfairness in life. I want to lend my odd brand of humor and movie quoting to the subject and give people permission to experience both the gut-wrenching pain and the gut-busting laughter of coping with the pain. God can handle all of it, and either way, our guts can use a good workout. I’ll use a similar format to Women Are Scary, working in the stories of others, movie quotes, tweets, scripture, funny stories about my kids, and bittersweet stories.
We’ll run the gamut of emotions, and hopefully you’ll feel like you have a friend who understands and gives you permission to let it all out. I want you to feel secure in a God who can handle all your emotions, from inappropriate laughter in the face of trauma, to anger, to whining. I also want to offer hope, not in a trite, bumper-sticker kind of way, but with my own story and the stories of others. We can offer each other the gift of hope as we walk this road together. Each of our stories will look different, but we can all learn to love our lives, even when we don’t always get to choose the way they’ll go. I’ll be sharing more of my stories about the heartbreak of infertility and this unexpected life I’m living now.
When my life has gotten tough, I’ve used humor and extreme honesty with God as coping strategies. So with this book, I want to combine all of that. Humor in the face of life’s poopy side, raw honesty with a God who can handle the pain, and encouragement and hope for others facing the rough stuff. I don’t need all the stories to have a fluffy big bow on them, because that’s not how life works. This isn’t a fluffy bow book. So your story doesn’t have to end with “And then everything was fantastic.”
I want to hear how you’ve learned to love your life after a tough diagnosis, divorce, job loss, the death of a dream or relationship, or the unexpected twist you didn’t see coming.
Here are some ideas of what I’m looking for:
-funny stories about your kids saying “It’s not fair”
-the good and bad things friends and family did to support and love you
-the process of your initial feelings and reaction to where you are now
-what you still struggle with, what’s gotten easier, what may never get easier
-what you’ve learned about yourself, people, or God
-how you coped with something hard
-absurd moments of humor during a difficult situation
I need your stories, 1,000 words or less, by May 1. I probably won’t be able to include everybody’s but I’ll let you know if yours is going in the book and get your address so I can send you a copy when it’s done. Email them to unexpectedmel @ unexpected.org. Thank you in advance. I will treat your stories with respect and love.
Oh and if you’re not into writing but still interested in this project, I would love for you to answer this question right here:
What do you want to know about going through the hard stuff?
UPDATE: Several of you have asked if 1)women who aren’t moms and 2)men can contribute, and the answer is YES. This one’s an all-play, you guys. It’s a book for people. Whether you’re a mom or not, I love you. You’re invited and welcome. If you’re a dude and comfortable with your words being in a book where I tell a whole story about my period, then you are a worthy friend and bring it on.