Lessons Learned from Writing My First Book


My first book, Tilting, A Memoir, came out a year ago, which was five years after my eldest son was born and then three years after my youngest son was born. And seventeen years after my mother died. And on the actual day of my book launch, my grandmother died. I didn’t make much of a deal about her dying that day, even though I was heartbroken. I had people in from out of town and a ton of friends meeting me to support my book that night.

A year later, I just can’t believe she is dead.

“Are you going to finish that book before I am dead?” she frequently asked.

Yes. I did. But I didn’t read it to her. Or read any of it aloud to her on what would be my last visit to see her with my sister, Erica. I’m not sure I regret that. I’m not sure she would have liked the book. She was private. And a memoir, by definition, is public.

A year of selling and mourning complete. I suppose neither are ever complete.

I began writing the book after Linda, my mother, died because I wanted to remember her. I wanted people who hadn’t known her to remember her. My mom, Linda, was extraordinary and unforgettable in that undefinable way people with magnetic personalities can be.

Along the way, I went to law school, lived in Germany, and worked in government. I took lots of writing courses and read hundreds of books.

Here are my takeaways from writing my first book:

1. It takes time.

Of course, writing the book turned out to be more difficult than I maybe anticipated. And it took way longer than I expected. Because I was writing a memoir I needed to document not only what happened but also how my feelings about what happened changed over time.

2. People care more and less than you expect.

I was worried about what my family would think of my book. They loved it and supported me. Some people I expected to buy my book and show up to support me, didn’t. That’s ok.

3. Your Readers Might Feel Differently Than You Do

I have had readers tell me how much they hate my Dad. I have had readers tell me they can’t believe I was so horrible as a child. And I have even had some readers who seem like they read a different book than mine, which is a funny/awkward place to be.

My goal was never to be a best selling author. Ok, I realized early on that was going to be a big challenge. I wanted to get my mom’s story out there for people to read. I’ve done that. And the response has been almost completely positive. 

So now I am on to a murder mystery and a book about my Gram. Also, if you have ever wanted to or dreamed about writing a book, consider this your sign to do it, and get typing. It’ll be a wild, worthwhile ride.