If you would have told me two years ago that right after my 30th birthday, I’d be signing a book contract for Coffee + Crumbs, I would have laughed hysterically and looked behind my shoulder.
Who, us? A book? Nope. Too soon. Tooooooooo soon.
I’d be lying if I said I never pictured a book, because of course I did. I’m a dreamer, and if I were crafty enough to make dream boards, there would have been a book on mine.
Maybe in five years.
But then, 16 months after launching Coffee + Crumbs, an e-mail from Harper Collins popped up in my inbox.
(That’s Harper as in Harper and Collins as in Collins. As in Harper Collins.)
And, well, when Harper Collins wants to get on the phone, you get on the dang phone.
They said, “We really love what you’ve made here. We’d really like to make a book with you.”
(Insert long pause, followed by hysterical laughter, followed by breathing into a paper bag.)
…….we started writing like maniacs.
I can’t believe it. You could pinch me two dozen times and this would still be a dream. We are so grateful (and also excited and terrified), and hopeful that these stories will be an encouragement to you in your mothering journey. We’re getting real and raw and messy and honest about everything under the sun: infertility, body image, marriage, friendship, our greatest fears, our biggest confessions, adoption, mental health, anxiety, pregnancy, miscarriage, s-e-x, in-laws, mom guilt, faith, identity, work, and much, much more.
For the past two months, we’ve been pouring our hearts and souls into these stories, fighting panic attacks and insecurities along the way, cheering for each other in a shared Google drive, and eating copious amounts of sugar. The whole process has been equal parts fun and thrilling, difficult and scary.
Which brings me to……The Glamorous Life Of Book Writing. Today we’re answering some simple questions, interview-style, about how we’re handling this whole writing-a-book thing. If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to write a book while raising young kids, here’s a look behind the scenes at our experience.
When do you brainstorm book ideas?
I brainstorm all the time. At church, in the car, while I'm reading or listening to podcasts. My mind thinks in essay topics all the time; the trouble is that these ideas usually come when I cannot write them down, and capturing those fleeting sentences forming in my mind is like trying to trap a firefly in a jar: sometimes you miss it, but when you get one, it feels so good to set it on the deck and watch it glow. - Katie
I brainstorm book essay ideas while I watch TV at night or sit on the toilet (Hey, alone time is SCARCE in my house!). Also, when my kids are at fill-in-the-blank practice or rehearsal. I sit with the notes section of my iPhone open and jot down conversations or ideas for future use. - Melanie
I brainstorm book ideas while I run. I know I have something to write about when I'm afraid to write it. So I lace up my workout shoes and I run around with that fear. I'm not a great runner and when I walk out the door, I think, "It won't happen today. You ran your last mile last time. This is just too hard." Then I start to run and the voice inside my head turns into pep talk Callie: "Well, you got past this point, so you can probably go farther....you can do this, you can do this, you can do this." There's something about doing something that's hard for me that helps me do the other thing that's hard. Being afraid pairs well with being afraid, I guess, and that's how my essays start to take shape. - Callie
I brainstorm in the shower. It's like the steam loosens things in my brain or something. I have been known to hop out of the shower, drip water all over my bedroom, and jump into bed wrapped in a towel to jot notes on my laptop before they float out of my head. - Ashlee
I brainstorm book essay ideas while I... live? Usually while I'm playing with my son - which makes sense, considering these essays are all about being his mom. I try to scribble them down as they come, but it's not always possible to take notes while you're building a lego house or constructing a sand castle, so a lot of ideas just come through my brain and on down the drain, never to be fully realized in writing. Isn't that sad? It's especially sad when I'm sitting at my computer a few hours later staring at a blank screen. Oh well. - Suzy
I brainstorm book essay ideas while I am halfway between consciousness and slumber. I almost always pen notes into my phone when I am nearly sleeping. - N’tima
What’s your go-to snack while writing?
My go-to snack food while writing is coffee. Coffee IS a snack food. It’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack. Coffee is my best friend. I want to rub it on my face and have energetic babies with it. - Melanie
Chocolate chips and cold brew coffee. - Katie
My go-to snack food while writing is coffee (can coffee be a snack food? It's more like my life's blood). - Anna J
My go-to snack food while writing is SUGAR and more SUGAR and then liquid sugar in the form of a Coffee Bean + Tea Leaf chai latte. - Lesley
Coffee and dark chocolate OR white cheddar popcorn and Diet Dr. Pepper (depends on the mood). You know, the really healthy stuff. - Ashlee
My go-to snack food while writing is chocolate, ice cream, cake - anything to make my blood sugar sky rocket. - N’tima
(Please Note: Don’t ever consult us for nutrition advice. Like, ever.)
What three words would you use to describe your emotions while writing for this book?
Fear, surprise, thankfulness - Callie
Humbled, grateful, hopeful. - Katie
Excited, exhausted, brainless. - N’tima
Barfy, anxious, thankful. - Ashlee
What is your greatest fear with this book?
That I'll find a glaring typo in it after it has been printed and distributed, an unnecessary capitalization or the wrong they're/their/there. Something I can't go in and delete. It will be there forever, a permanent black mark on my literary conscience. I will die if that happens. Please don't let that happen, Ashlee. - Suzy
That five years from now I will read something I wrote in this book and cringe. Only I can’t bury it on the Internet in an old archive; it’s alive in real paper. Forever. Can I have that paper bag back, please? Other fears: cruel 1-star Amazon reviews; being misunderstood. - Ashlee
My greatest fear about this book is anything I've written being misunderstood, or evolving as a writer and hating what was published in a few years time. - N'tima
What is your greatest hope for this book?
That it honors motherhood and honors God. - April
April stole my answer. - Ashlee
My greatest hope for this book is that it’ll make moms feel heard, loved, and understood. I want people to read our writing and feel ridiculously normal, like they’re in a ginormous sisterhood of crazy fun people. I want this book to singlehandedly solve all the mommy wars and make all of us instantly feel connected and together. No big deal, yawn, one book can totally do all that. - Melanie
That it will matter, really matter. And that it will point people to the greatest hope of motherhood: God. - Katie
What has been your greatest struggle while writing for this book?
Ignoring the weight of the word “book” while I write. Is this what warming up before the Superbowl feels like? - April
Feeling like I am inadequate to even be part of writing it; both as a writer and as a mother. - Katie
Overcoming the mountains of insecurity and self-doubt that seem to pop up everywhere I turn. Pushing past the fear to just get started on each essay was harder than I ever imagined. - Ashlee
My biggest struggle with this book has been feeling like motherhood is so dang hard. We’re in a tough season right now and I don’t want to be all gloomy, so the hardest thing for me has been writing honestly, but not so painfully that everyone needs to take a nap and hold a puppy when they’re done reading. I want to write all Beautiful and Magical but honestly, most days I wonder how we’re going to make it to the next one, and the only magic I’m looking for is a magical teleportation device to an alternate reality where I’m by myself on an island away from these small people who are devouring me. - Melanie
My biggest struggle with this book has been... trying to say something that I'll still believe and stand behind years down the road. This book won't even be in anyone's hands for almost another year - I wanted to say things that will still be true then. I'm still in the early stages of motherhood, the naive years. I feel vastly under-qualified to write a book about it. So I tried very hard to just speak from what little experience I have and to ask questions more than answer them. I don't want to make Future Me do too much eye-rolling. - Suzy
My biggest struggle with this book has been tackling topics that reveal some of my greatest shortcomings and hardest moments as a mother. Also, FINDING TIME TO FREAKING WRITE, ha. - N’tima (and all the other writers said amen.)
Since you started writing for this book, what was your highest high?
The highest high while writing this book was the day I came home from working on "Profile of a Superhero," and told my daughter Harper about what I'd written, and that it was going to be in a book. "A real book!," I said. "Like, one you can find at Barnes and Noble!" She started to cry and I said, "What's wrong?" She said, "You are doing all these things for me and I have nothing to give back to you!" I said, "You give me everything. That's why I write, so I can capture some of it and share it with the rest of the world." - Callie
My highest high while writing for this book was the day I realized that many of my own defeats in mothering could be used to help other women who might be in their own low places. - Lesley
My favorite moment came toward the end, when we were all feeling the deadlines and putting our essays in the drive for other eyes; it was like we became a little sisterhood, encouraging one another, making one another better, loving the words each of us toiled over. Our team has never met in person, but doing this work, and reading the work before the final product, made me feel a little bit like we had. - Katie
My highest high while writing for this book was the day I found words to defeat my demons while writing about them, and finding words to express my love for my husband. - N'tima
My highest high was the day I finished the essay I was terrified to write. I cried….it was like a burden had been lifted from my chest and I could breathe again. A close second would be the day I read the entire manuscript beginning to end, and for the very first time, I could actually picture it being a book. - Ashlee
Fill in the blank: People don't tell you that when you write a book, _______________________.
It's just like writing anything else. It's one word at a time, that blank page ain't going to fill itself. - April
You basically hate everything you write at first. - Katie
There will be 4,000 e-mails about it. Also, you might cry a lot. - Ashlee
Do your kids have any idea that you're writing a book?
I have to keep reminding Mason that it's something I'm working on. The other day he was like "What book? Oh you mean that one you're writing with the other mommies? I keep forgetting you're doing that because it seems so boring to me." #FeelingTheLove – Anna J
No clue. They do however, know exactly when I'm using the computer and choose then to fight, poop, yell, need milk, or fall off the couch. Every time. - Katie
Nope. When you're two years old and nine months old, the idea that mommy has anything else to do other than wipe their butts or forage for their snacks is impossible. – N’tima
I've told Everett a few times. He always responds with the same question, "Is it for ME?!" - Ashlee
What will make this book "successful" in your eyes?
If even one stay-at-home trashes the answer, "I *just* stay home with my kids" when asked what she does. - April
I want this book to be an encouragement to mothers everywhere. If this book helps any woman feel more known and less alone, then I think we've done our job. This book will be successful if women are more encouraged in their mothering experience as a result of our words. - Anna J
If readers say "Hey.....me, too." - Katie
All I want is for one mother to feel heard, to feel seen, to not feel alone. I want this book to bring hope to those that are struggling with motherhood. - N’tima
If the mothers who read this book feel encouraged, supported, and renewed afterwards, it will be a raging success in my eyes. If the mothers who read this book go back to their lives and start noticing a tiny bit of magic in their own messy motherhood journey, well, that will be icing on the cake. - Ashlee
The Magic of Motherhood hits bookstores April 2017.
Take a minute and freak out with us?
We'll be sure to keep you posted on the details as they unfold. In the meantime, special thanks to all of the amazing guest writers who filled in for us over the past two months while we've been developing cavities and emptying our hearts.
We're so happy to be back.