What I’ve Learned From Writing A Book

I’ve been hiding the fact that I’ve been working on a book for a long time, because I was so terrified something might go wrong, but I’m ready to talk about it. (Stay with me here.)

Writing a book

So… I’M WRITING A BOOK! I’m sure anyone who gets a book deal will say this, but I’ve always wanted to write a book, and it’s so exciting that when I think about it my throat catches and I feel like I might scream. I’M SO EXCITED.

It’s a humor how-to guide called Womanskills, and it will likely hit bookshelves next October, or so my editor tells me. (My Editor, this is such a nice thing to say.)

I’ve quietly been writing the outline, which was approved. Then I wrote the first chapter, which has now been approved. And I’ll be working on the rest of the book over the next few months. It’ll all be done by January, and because I’ve been happily thrown into this, I feel like I now have some takeaways.

  • Procrastination and writer’s block will happen. Like, you think that maybe turning on HGTV for “background noise” will help you get in the zone, and then an hour later you realize your new zone is just watching TV. Personally, I’ve tried to put a time limit on those things, so if I start procrastinating, I give myself an hour, then it’s back to writing and turning off the internet. See evidence of procrastination below:

Decided to take a selfie while working on my book, because I’ve run out of ways to procrastinate. 📖📚💻

A photo posted by Erin La Rosa (@sideofginger) on

    • It’s OK to not talk about your book until you’re really ready to do so. I took a full month to tell people. I mean, I immediately told my cat, E, my parents, my closest friends, and sometimes would just mumble it to myself, but I didn’t start conversations with it. It’s totally fine to be nervous, and to keep exciting things close to you. And yes, people will be mad that you didn’t tell them, saying things like, “Why didn’t you tell me?!” but like, pat them on the back and reassure them that your crippling anxiety really needed this secrecy.

 

  • However, at some point you should let yourself be excited and share the great news. (See this blog post, for example.)

 

 

  • Find a spot that really makes you want to write. I used to think that spot was on my couch, until I kept trying to watch TV. Then I tried my bed, and I kept napping. But the library? Yes, I work quite well in a library. Libraries are quiet and there’s no TV, which for me was basically what I needed. #librariesforever

 

 

  • And when you do something, like find your idea for a book, or finish an outline or a chapter or a whole book, celebrate by doing something you had to put off while writing. Like on Sunday I submitted my chapter, so I watched episodes of Hannibal and sat in my pajamas without typing. That was totally lovely.

 

 

9 Reasons Why Sheila Is Nailing This Mom Thing

I realize this is a bold statement. I mean — moms are cool, in general, and we’re blessed to have so many of them. But if you disagree with the above claim, then you clearly have never met Sheila La Rosa.

There literally aren’t enough ways to count why Sheila is the best, but I’ll condense into the…

Top 9 Ways Sheila Rocks This Mom Thing:

1. My Mom is actually the hardest working person I’ve ever known. Because she’s Irish — and Irish people are frugal as all hell — my grandparents never gave her any handouts. She paid her own way through college and nursing school to become a RN in the emergency room, and she’s made certain to never have any debts. In fact, when she went to apply for a credit card in her thirties — up to then, she only ever paid for everything in cash — they wouldn’t give her one because she had no debts or credit to her name. Fun times!

She taught me to love science and not just be good at things, but to be the best at things. I only work as hard as I do now because of her example.

The La Rosas are hot stuff on infrared light.

A photo posted by Erin La Rosa (@sideofginger) on

 

2. She pushed my brother and me OUT OF HER BODY. I realize this is not unique, as most moms experience this, but come on — she pushed TWO BABIES OUT. That’s saying something. fam

3. Sheila La Rosa is hilarious. Seriously, she’s the best storyteller I know. One of my friends came to visit our house one Christmas, and after my mom told a story about sending my brother and me to Montessori school as kids, and what a harrowing experience that was, my friend was crying from laughter. She said, “I totally get it now — I see where you get your sense of humor from.” sheshe

4. On that note, my mom is the original queen of SHADE. If you need proof, skip to 1:10 of this tequila taste test video we did for BuzzFeed.  

5. Did I mention how glam my Mom is?mum

I mean, that blond hair, those shades, her porcelain skin… mom

She deserves her own reality show, if not her own network, magazine, and lifestyle blog. She gives new meaning to “Mombod” and “Mom Style.” Basically, she’s the epitome of #MomGoals.

 

6. Oh, and she beat breast cancer. Yeah, she kicked breast cancer’s ass! momma

7. Sheila taught me the importance of chutzpah (she grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Queens, hence chutzpah). My Mom has always loved real estate and when I was a kid, we used to sneak into houses that were under construction. If we were caught (and we often were), she’d think of an excuse on the spot, “Oh, I was hoping to speak with the architect — I’m building my own home and just love the tile work.” I’ve talked my way into more things than I can say without incriminating myself, including a few under-construction homes of my own, all because of my Mom’s chutzpah.  

Off to Catalina with Bill and Sheila. ⚓️

A photo posted by Erin La Rosa (@sideofginger) on

 

8. My Mom knows how to have a good time. Every Christmas, she and my dad host a holiday party, and every July 4th she has all of her friends over for barbecue to watch the fireworks set off over the water. Mommy

9. And probably the most important reason of all reasons as to why my Mom is the greatest is that she managed to raise my brother and I into fairly upstanding adults. 

My family. At my cousin’s wedding. Bringing all the damn fierceness. A photo posted by Erin La Rosa (@sideofginger) on


My brother perhaps a little more so than me, as he’s now a doctor and all!

Happy Mother’s Day to the world’s best mom!! Thank you for making me who I am today. I love you so very much.

Happen to agree that Sheila is the best?! Let her know in the comments!

Me Versus The Merlot

sawyerwine

The above is a photo of the 2002 Merlot I bought while drunkenly wine tasting with my BFF in Napa two years ago. It was a lot of money for me at the time, a little over $60, but I decided to splurge because A) again, drunk, and B) I wanted to use it as creative incentive. (In other words, once I accomplished something REALLY amazing, I’d drink it.)

In 2013, I got a book deal. It was exciting and arguably a time when I could’ve opened the Merlot, but I didn’t. I decided to drink it when the book sold to a publisher, because getting a deal wasn’t QUITE amazing enough. But then months went by, and my book deal was dropped. (It happens, but it also broke my heart in a lot of ways.)

It took me about a month to get past the dropped book deal and find a new project to focus on. That project was and still is a musical I’m currently working on with two wonderful friends of mine. It’s been such a creative and interesting process for me, and I’m so excited to keep seeing it through.

But musicals take time, especially since our producer and musician are both on the east coast. And as the months have ticked by and the musical is still being workshopped and re-written, this Merlot has sat, like some plum-faced ogre on our bar cart brought into this world to mock me. Fucking smug wine.

As some of you may have noticed, I stopped blogging on this page altogether in May. Because the wine was staring at me, and because I hadn’t made ENOUGH progress, I decided to take a blogging break and focus on the musical. But I missed blogging. I really missed having that other creative outlet where I could write about my life and share what’s going on.

And so, the Merlot began to feel less and less celebratory to me, and more like that toxic friend who makes you feel bad about ordering fries. It was a reminder that I’d failed; that I’d lost my book deal. It reminded me that I hadn’t hit a milestone that was important enough. It made me feel like shit, essentially.

I feel like a fucking asshole to even say that a WINE BOTTLE, an inanimate object, has been making me feel bad — I do realize that I’m projecting a lot of things into this poor Merlot. But to be honest, it just does. I’ve had this bottle for two years now, and I’m a rather impatient person. Shouldn’t I have accomplished something by now? Shouldn’t I have published something that is just mine? That’s what the Merlot makes me ask myself every time I see it.

Yes, a book deal fell through, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. I’m going to keep reminding myself of these things:

  • I’ve written a full draft of a musical, and we’re about 70% of the way to having a finished product with that.
  • I’ve joined a writer’s group and we meet every other week to discuss each other’s work. I’ve workshopped short stories there and found a group of women who support each other and are so insanely talented.
  • I started this blog, and I don’t want to feel bad about taking time to write on it.
  • I’m working at a job I love and get to go to everyday. And this past week, I got a promotion from Senior Editor to Deputy Editorial Director. (My Mom asked me, “Who’s the Sheriff?” when I told her.)

I decided this week that I’m no longer going to let this fucking bottle of wine make me feel bad about myself. Yes, it’s good to have goals, and I will keep those, but I won’t allow this wine to be a reminder of my failures. I will no longer be paralyzed by the memory of the book deal, and I won’t continue to dwell on it. I’m ready to move on.

So tonight, E is cooking steak. And we’re going to open that fucking bottle of 2002 Merlot that I have been saving to celebrate with, and I’m going to celebrate my promotion, and I’m not going to let anyone (or anything, rather) make me feel like I haven’t accomplished anything.

I’ve let go of toxic friends in the past when I realized they were dragging me down and making me feel useless, and I’m happy to say that I will be drinking this Merlot until it is gone and throwing out the bottle in the morning so I never have to feel like a failure again.

If any of you have something (or someone) in your life that’s preventing you from moving forward, I hope you know that I can now provide words of encouragement to get rid of it sooner rather than later! I just can’t believe I’ve kept this bottle for so long, and I wish I’d drank it down sooner. Here’s to feeling happy again, and to more blogging. xo

Help Me Figure Out The 30 Things I Need To Do Before Turning 30

Just to clarify: I’m 29, and in 10 months I’ll be 30.

I have always looked forward to turning 30. I had this idea in my head that turning 30 would mean that I’d enter a totally different stage of my life. Like, all of a sudden I wouldn’t be so clumsy, and I’d have my shit together, basically.

But I was talking to a friend the other day about turning 30, and much like me, she’s right on the cusp of it. When I mentioned that I was excited for the change, she said, “Really? Because I think that turning 30 is going to be exactly the same, except I’ll be 30.”

The problem is, she had a point. My 30th is only 10 months away and, really, why would that age make my life drastically different?

Turning 30Much like any other birthday, the only thing that truly changes is your age. And yet, I can look back at 25, 26, 27, and 28, and remember if it was a good year, or a bad year. I’d really like to make 29 a good year. So good that by the time I’m 30 I really do feel different.

There are a lot of “30 things to do before you turn 30” lists out there, and they have suggestions like travel, volunteer, write a book, etc etc. All of those are great things to do, but realistically, I probably won’t be able to backpack through Europe, and I wouldn’t really want to, at this point in my life. My thing is this: I’d actually like to make a to do list of what I should accomplish before 30 that are actually accomplishable. A list of 30 things to do before you leave your 20s, basically.

With the help of E, I came up with some things that I’ve always personally wanted to do, and I think I could get done in the next 10 months:

  1. Eat an entire cheese pizza all by myself in one sitting. This has been a goal of mine ever since watching Curly Sue do it as a kid.
  2. Finish writing the musical I’ve been working on, and have it put up in New York.
  3. Go on a totally spontaneous, spur of the moment weekend trip.
  4. Learn how to make sushi! Which is also a bucket list item of mine.
  5. Read Anna Karenina 
  6. Go camping/glamping, because I’ve ever been.
  7. Spend a day at a weird food festival, and don’t feel guilty about not doing any work that day. (Maybe the LA Street Food Fest?)
  8. Watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Because I’ve actually never seen it.
  9. Learn Italian. Or rather, begin to learn Italian. So, maybe a goal of 200 Italian words in 10 months?
  10. For the next 10 months, have some kind of dinner party with friends once a month.
  11. Finish decorating and painting our new apartment so that it feels complete. (E said, “I feel like a few more rugs would really tie the place together!”)
  12. Beat E in a game of chess. He’s really good.

I’d like to get this list up to 30, and I’m curious if anyone has suggestions? If you’re already 30 or older, what are some things you would have liked to have done? And if you’re under 30, what are some cool and realistic goals I could set over the next 10 months to make me a more well-rounded person? Help me turn 30!