the delightful chaos of writing two books at the same time
Last week, I flew to NYC to visit the archives containing Maurice Sendak materials at the New York City Public Library and meet with my book editor at Astra House. In the past year, I sold two very different books to publishing houses in NYC. One is a hybrid biography of illustrator Maurice Sendak based on letters he wrote to my mom, and the other is a non-fiction book investigating labor conditions at America’s largest meatpacking company. I’ve spent the past decade working to demonstrate that I can manage long-term, complicated reporting projects. I wasn’t sure how to get a book agent or a film agent, but I made the bet that they would eventually find me via my writing. And so I didn’t go looking for them. For the first time in my life, I’m supporting myself 100% by writing books. This means I have the power to say “no” to any and every person who wants to work with me - unless there is a compelling reason to collaborate.
I divide my time between Sendak work and meatpacking work on a typical day. For example, I recently interviewed a 93-year-old writer at The New Yorker who was close friends with Sendak. She asked me to send her a link to an article during our phone interview, and I offered to text her. She said, “Don’t text me! I don’t text!” It was a lovely moment. I drive around Arkansas for the meatpacking work to conduct interviews in person. During the height of omicron, I did not visit anyone, wanting to wait until Arkansas got the situation more under control. The wild thing about non-fiction books is that I have no idea where the story will end. I can only commit to the process with intention and ferocity - I cannot control the outcome.
To finding meaning in the process and the work,
News & Events:
I sold a book!
March 26: speaking event at Arizona State University
March 28: speaking event at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
April 29-May 12: Mesa Refuge to work on the meatpacking book