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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
SEP
08

Newbie in New York

My new book launch is next month, and after all the years of work that go into writing a book, it's hard to believe it's so close now. It's also hard to believe, and sometimes a bit frustrating, that this thing that took multiple years of effort can be read in a matter of hours. It's sort of like why I hate cooking. All that time and effort for something that is eaten in a matter of minutes. But that's the way of it. The goal, in fact. To provide a few hours of entertainment, escape, retability for my readers. 

This picture was taken in Central Park, where I got a chance to do a final read-through of the proof copy of Newbie. It was wonderful to be in New York City while reading it, because the book is about my time living in New York, and so many of the places I love and remember featured into the trip. I'd pause and smile when passing the International Gem Tower where I studied gemology, or think back while at a particular restaurant or park to the last time I had been there. It's a phase of life I'm so glad I got to have, and it's a book about doing something I'd always wanted to do in a place where I'd always wanted to live, and I can't wait to share it with you.

JUN
23

If It Looks Like a Book

I considered taking the printed versions of interior layout options for my new book elsewhere before spreading them out and making desicions. My cat always makes a mess of it, assuming the freshly stacked piles of paper have been put there for her to run around on, which she does, making it impossible for me to make any progress. The same thing happens when I make the bed, by the way. But the thought occurred to me that it's tradition, really, the book's christening by cat footprints, and so I couldn't quite bring myself to do it without her.

The cover for this new book was finalized earlier this month, always an exciting day, but there's something even more special about moving on to the book's interior layout, in that you're actually seeing how the book will look and feel to readers. Doing this in such a small-scale, grass roots way means I have a lot of say in these decisions, and that's incredibly satisfying. What would be even more satisfying is selling books, which I don't do much of, so there are definite cons to not being backed by a large publishing house.

But it is what it is. I write books that I think are fun to read, and this one's getting closer and closer to completion. You can bet my cat will be on hand to celebrate every step of the process. Especially those that involve things that can be stepped on.

MAR
22

Changes

It’s a strange thing, getting your manuscript back from the editor. On one hand, she’s paid to help you make it better. On the other hand, she gone done marked up this precious thing you’ve spent years working on. And you’d really rather she just find it perfect as is. I realize this latter scenario isn’t realistic. And if she’d told me it was perfect, she probably wouldn’t be a very good editor. But this does mean that I’ll be spending the weekend sifting through a sea of red marks, trying to sort out how to now make the book better based on her edits, feedback, and suggestions.

The editing process in general requires a lot of restraint on the part of a writer. You have to actively stop yourself from being too attached to any one part of the book, from getting a bit defensive at the constructive criticism aimed at this thing you’ve put so much heart and soul into. Because this is the way you want it. This is the way you like it. This is the way you wrote it. It hits me fresh with each new book, the manuscript returned to me peppered with suggested changes. It initially feels quite icky. Oh, hell no am I cutting that part. Or turning that complex sentence into three short and simple ones. Psssshhhh. But it helps to remember that readers won’t necessarily interpret things the way I believe I’m putting them across. They won’t necessarily know what I’m referencing by mentioning, say, a John Cusack movie while inside of Serendipity (doesn’t that one seem obvious, though?), or, perhaps, a poem about what happens to a dream deferred (Langston Hughes, anyone?).

The important thing about this manuscript--and all other manuscripts my editor has handed back to me over the near decade I’ve been working with her—is that there were no major problems that needed fixing. From timing to organization to structure, this one was given a pass. Which is really what I’m looking for with a manuscript, hoping I’ve gotten it to a point where any changes that need to be made are of a small, grammatical variety. Sentences shortened, typos removed, awkward wording replaced. Having achieved this once again is what I’ll be striving to focus on as I go through the marked-up pages this weekend. Cake, right? Let’s hope.

FEB
18

The Hand-Off

This picture is really just because my cat feels like she doesn't get mentioned enough on this blog. Also because I was out of town and we are happy to be reunited. But mostly because the activity in this picture (reading) is significant. Having turned in manuscript #4 to my editor, it means I once again have time for books and the reading of them. 

My editor is the only one who reads my books before they're typeset. This is probably stupid. But it's what I'm most comfortable with. I figure people have different opinions, and the more hands I have in the pot (in the form of people who have read the manuscript), the more feedback I'll get--most likely differing feedback--and at the end of the day, it should come down to my own opinions of how I want this book to be. Not anyone else's.

Needless to say, what my editor thinks of the books is incredibly important to me. Not just because she catches typos and things that could probably be worded better, but also because she's my only test reader. The only one I can ask if a certain thing is offensive or if the timeline is confusing. And so I wait in what I would describe equal parts excitement and anxiety for her to send her edits and overall feedback, hoping beyond hope that she thinks it works, and that she enjoys reading it. 

That's what I hope for all readers, of course. That they settle in for a few hours of escape, feeling upon the book's end that they've truly been somewhere, even if that somewhere is simply somewhere other than where they usually are. 

DEC
02

Manuscript #4: Done

Every weekend I put "write" on my to-do list, which is why this weekend is significant. It's the first time in a couple of years that "write" has been replaced with "edit." Because my fourth manuscript is officially done. There's a lot of work still to do, but I cannot emphasize what a big deal it is to get the writing all down. To finish the last few paragraphs and know that you've come to the natural stopping place. That it all feels done. 

Of course, for me, when I say the manuscript is done, this doesn't mean that it's ready to hand over. I have months of editing to do, not to mention organization and chronology, since I'm the odd memoir writer who does not write in anything resembling chronological order. I just pick a piece or scene or topic and write it up, then pick another one the next time I get a chance to write. So right now it's not in the order I want it to be for you readers. 

Like I said, there's more work to do, but my goal was to have the first draft, to have all the book's innards, written by the end of the year. It feels like a Christmas present to myself that I was able to follow through. Bring on the editing. And also that beach walk.

OCT
26

Manuscript Babies

 

This picture was taken without my knowledge while at Disneyland last week with a certain little person in my life. This little person is quite different than his older brother, whom I took to Disneyland last year, and as a person with no little people of my own, the differences between the personalities of little people is not something I’m able to observe very often. That’s one reason why last week was such a surprise to me. I was expecting the week to go much differently. Neither worse nor better, it was just different. Because they are different. We spent much more time observing details than we did careening down mountains. And I have no complaints about that.

When it comes to differences, I can’t even really compare animals because I only have one (best girl I have, that’s what I tell her). So that leaves me—the childless cat-lady author—with nothing but manuscripts to compare. True that they are my babies, in a way only someone without children would say. True that they exist because of me. That they make me worry and cry and stress and don’t make me any money. That I love them all unconditionally. That they are each my favorite but for very different reasons.

I’ve been making steady progress on my new manuscript, up to 90% finished now. 90%!!! It’s that weird part of the writing process where you’re so close to being done (exciting!) but long finished with your favorite and best parts (demotivating!). See, I don’t write my manuscripts in chronological order. I don’t write from start to finish. I make a list (which constantly changes) of things I know I’ll want to include in the book, and then I pick one and write it up. Then pick another. And another. But I’m no fool. And I pick the things I want to write about most first. If that sentence sounded strange, what I mean is I first pick the things I most want to write about. The Goods. The Juice. The Triumph. The Bitch Who Lived Downstairs.

Which means I’m left now with the dregs, if you will. The stuff I keep passing over each time I select a topic to write. The stuff I haven’t chosen until now. It’s not bad. It’s just not the stuff I couldn’t wait to write down. But the end is near, and that’s pretty incredible. A new sibling to my other manuscripts, one which I’m sure to love equally and with abandon. Even if he takes cross-eyed selfies when I’m not looking.

JUL
08

Because I Also Write Books

It's easy to forget that, especially because there are so many other things to talk about on this blog. Like LeBron. And gemstones. And the fact that I've fallen in love which is totally cutting into my writing time. (Worth it, by the way.) But I do write books. 

I'm currently 60% done with my next manuscript. This will be my fourth book, and 60% feels significant. It feels like we're getting somewhere. And I probably say this with every book (someone should really look into this), but I'm pretty sure this one is my favorite. While the other three each follow a certain theme throughout my entire life thus far, this book is about a single, brief period of my life. It's about a thing I always wanted to do. It's about me doing it, loving/hating it, and ultimately leaving it behind. It's just focused differently...in a way my first three books are not. And I'm also exploring the idea of experimenting with chronology on this one, so you have that to dread look forward to when the time comes.

All good stuff. I like writing so much. I'm grateful it's one of the many aspects of my life. Even if it almost never gets top billing. On this blog or anywhere else. Some things we do simply because we must. Because we are called. Because they are there. Because if we don't, who will ever know that these things happened to us? That we had these feelings? That we dreamed dreams and took risks and failed a lot?

Which is all to say, I'm looking forward to the next 40%.  

MAR
19

The Signing at Loganberry Books

It's hard to beat Loganberry Books when it comes to intricate and charming details, literary nostalgia and whimsy, and let's not forget sheer size. It's a deceivingly large store, with ladders and chairs and pillows and tables. In short, it's the full bookstore package. Plus, they have a cat.

I'd done a few events there in the past, but always as part of a larger book fair featuring many authors. My first solo event, it wasn't as well-attended as I had hoped (you know, like in author dreamland where every person you invited and/or know shows up and you sell out of books) but I do have to remember that I don't live there anymore. It's not as if I can claim it as my own. Or bug my co-workers by incessantly reminding them that THIS IS THE WEEKEND of the book signing. Um, not that I did this with my California signing. How needy.

Cleveland is a special place for me because I spent so many years there, surely, but also because of the kinds of relationships I formed while I was there. And because the book I was in town to celebrate is the "love" book, of course that had me waxing pensive over how many men I met and dated there. One of the main exes I mention in the book is still in town, and, if I'm being honest, I had thought I wanted him to be there. I mean, three books? Don't I deserve that kind of support for being an ex that's just so damn prolific? But during the event I grew uneasy at the thought of navigating the conversation. "So, great book, Tali. I really enjoyed the part where you spilled the beans about the cowardly way in which I broke your heart." I mean, all's fair, (meaning he gets to break my heart and also that I get to broadcast the deets Taylor Swift style by writing about it), and truth is an absolute defense, but maybe some relationships really do work better in the past tense. It's why I'm a writer. It's why I'm single. It's why I probably need some new book tour cities in my circuit.

 

DEC
15

Early Christmas Present

And there she is, folks. The first copy.

Isn't it pretty??

Still two months before release, but, boy oh boy, it's an amazing thing to see this project you've spent years of your life working on in the form of an actual book.

I'll definitely curl up over my Christmas vacation, read a few chapters, and pretend I don't know how it ends.

OCT
12

Back At It

So's my cat, clearly (some help she is), but the truth of the matter is that I've begun writing again. After I finish a book I take a nice long break. This one has been especially long, but it's not as if there isn't still booky work going on. Typesetting decisions, cover options, etc. Most of this post-writing work falls on others, but still, it feels a bit hasty to the part of myself that can't even be reading more than one book at the same time to begin writing a new book when the last one hasn't even come out yet. But I've begun dabbling and think I may have what may or may not be the first few pieces of what may or may not end up being book #4.

Gotta say. It feels good to be back.

And if you're wondering when book #3 will be dropping, let me just say that if you find yourself in the mood for a collection of tragically relatable love stories (that are mostly not about love) around, say, Valentine's Day, then you just may be in luck.

Until then, I'm just going to keep writing. And (mostly not) loving.

 

 

SEP
23

The Photo Shoot

There is something inherently ridiculous about getting your photo taken as an adult. Honestly. Who takes themselves that seriously? And sometimes when I see people post obviously professionally-taken photos of themselves looking totally cute, I roll my eyes. Like, a lot. I mean, doesn’t it kind of remind you of that scene in While You Were Sleeping where she goes over to Peter’s apartment and there’s that picture of him framed on the counter? Framed. Of him. Displayed in his own apartment. Can you say selfish and shallow? I can.

I had some headshots taken about four years ago. For bookish purposes, I might add. The photo that’s been on my website and social media channels since that time came from this very photo shoot, as did the author picture I used in Jeweled. Given how unnatural it seems to have photos taken of myself, I had planned on using the same picture in my upcoming book as well. Waste not, am I right? But people started generally remarking about how different I now look from those photos four years ago. And while there’s no way I’m doing this every few years just because my hair is different, people did seem to have a point. So I scheduled another photo shoot. And while I certainly battled some amount of “you are as ridiculous as Peter Callahan” demons as the photographer snapped away, my confession to you is that I loved this photo shoot. I did. I loved it. I loved wearing my cute little city outfits in San Diego’s sleepy Old Town. I loved feeling momentarily beautiful. And I loved the photographer’s comment that I had the gift of no one being able to tell how old I am. I am a freaking illusion.

The shot above was my favorite of the day. I didn’t opt to use it for anything official, but if I were Peter Callahan, this is the one I would frame and put on my counter. Just saying.