Personal Exposure: How My Book Is Like a Bathing Suit by Janis Powers
It’s springtime, which means it’s time to think about shopping for a bathing suit. It’s an emotional thing, shopping for a bathing suit. It reminds me of writing my book.
The idea of wearing a bathing suit and looking passable – dare I say “hot” – is a far-off goal for many women, including me. I have an idea of how I’d like to look in a bathing suit. And that idea may have a calamitous collision with reality the second I strap on a bikini in the safety of a department store dressing room. I may not be as hot as I thought. Or hoped I’d be. Not yet, anyway. It’s only spring.
About 11 years ago, I sat down to write a book. I had great expectations for it. I wanted to look like a super model in my bathing suit of a book.
I spent years working on it. First, it was an autobiography. But that was too revealing. So I converted the whole concept to fiction, writing in the third person to distance the character, Maxine Pedersen, from me, Janis Powers. Then I re-wrote the manuscript in the first person. I wanted readers to get inside Maxine’s head and to be part of her world.
Six years in, I thought I was close to being finished. That’s when I decided to take a long, hard look in the mirror. I gave some trusted friends a copy of my manuscript, and asked for their opinion. The verdict? My work had lots of potential, but the body of the book had too much cellulite and not enough muscle tone. Clearly, I was not yet ready for a pool-side cat-walk.
Despite this news, I decided to double-down on my personal investment. I employed a writer’s team of personal trainers, engaging two editors (one of whom was Alexandra Shelley, editor of The Help). I cut an entire character from the novel, along with about 40,000 words. I augmented my book with a fresh 25,000 words. After all that work, my book was tight.
Yes, I had finally found the right bathing suit. After months of scrutiny and review, there was nothing more I could do to make it look any better. I decided to purchase that suit. In other words, I sent my manuscript off to the publisher. No turning back now!
My book Mama’s Got a Brand New Job is out there. I’m wearing my bathing suit on the beach, and people are telling me that they like it.
Now, when I’m wearing my bathing suit, I don’t look in the mirror. Seriously, I can’t even open a copy of Mama’s Got a Brand New Job without noticing all of its flaws and imperfections. So I accept it as a monument of personal achievement, and prepare myself for the coming season.
What will my bathing suit look like next year? Not sure. I just hope that when I wear it, I can enjoy myself while basking in the sun of pride and contentment.
Janis Powers has had a lot of jobs. Yale graduate, M.B.A./M.Arch. recipient, management consultant, stay-at-home mom, amateur chef and inveterate traveler, Janis is now channeling her energy into writing. Her first novel Mama’s Got a Brand New Job tackles the working mother conundrum through smart “chick lit”. Janis also blogs on political and social issues for The Huffington Post. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter @Maxine_Pedersen. Learn more and order your copy of Mama’s Got a Brand New Job here.
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