Saturday, March 30, 2013

Guest Post: Tracy Beckerman, author of Lost in Suburbia

Tracy Beckerman's new book, Lost in Suburbia, will be in bookstores on April 2nd - check back on April 3rd for my review. Tracy has been kind enough to write a guest post for this blog.

Tracy Beckerman, Lost in Suburbia
Tracy Beckerman
For a dozen years while I was writing my newspaper column, I had to tell a story and be funny in 550 words or less. This was some years before Twitter when you had to find a way to be funny in 140 characters or less. Fortunately, it wasn’t actually that much of a challenge for me. In my prior life before kids I had been a promo producer for television, and since the average promo was only 30 seconds I was used to short formats. For someone with a short attention span, these were both ideal jobs to have. The promo assignment or the column changed every week so I could get in, get out, badda bing, badda boom, onto the next thing.

Had I thought hard about it, I might have suspected that I was classic ADHD. But since I was able to make a career out of my short attention span, I decided not to worry too much about it. Plus, I was able to sustain interest in my husband long enough to marry him and stay interested in my kids long enough to remember to feed them everyday. So as far as I was concerned, it was all good.

But then I got a book deal. Not only got it, but actively pursued it, which would seem like a strange objective for someone with long term commitment issues. Surprisingly, after a lifetime of changing gears often, I suddenly had a need to do something bigger and more involved. Had I been smart, I would have tried something simpler first, like a major home renovation or solving the debt crisis. But instead I decided to write a book.

Sadly, I was never one of those disciplined writers who sat down at a specific time of day to write. I usually waited for an idea to hit me, which typically happened at the most inopportune times such as when I was in the shower, or driving, or sleeping. Not knowing when I would get these flashes of inspiration, I tried to stay about 3 weeks ahead on my deadlines, just in case I went through a dry spell or one of the kids got sick, or worse yet, the coffee machine broke.

This worked well for my weekly 550-word column. But when I suddenly had a 60,000-word commitment hanging over my head, I realized I was going to have to do things differently. Or at the very least, get a spare coffee machine.
Since I knew I was really going to have to get my head into the book for a prolonged period of time, I figured the best thing to do was clear my plate of all my other writing obligations This meant writing three months of columns and blog posts ahead of time. If this doesn’t sound daunting on paper, just realize that equaled one column and three blogs for 12 weeks, or 12 columns and 36 blog posts of original, funny, inspired content. Ha!

The good news was, doing all this short format writing in a compressed time period was actually the perfect way for me to build up my creative muscle. So by the time I was ready to sit down and write the book, 60,000 words didn’t seem quite so scary anymore.

Miraculously, I did, in fact, get it done in three months.

And I only forgot to feed the kids once.

Tracy Beckerman writes the syndicated humor column “Lost in Suburbia,” which is carried by over 400 newspapers nationally. She is the author of the book, “Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir. How I got pregnant, lost myself, and got my cool back in the New Jersey Suburbs.” (2013, Perigee).

1 comment:

  1. Only once? Mine would have starved for three months. You are in inspiration.


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