The book vs. the proposal

IKnowHowSheDoesIt_2One of the things I love about what I do is that I get to see things through from start to finish. The boxes of hard-bound I Know How She Does It copies are here. I also found the proposal in my desk drawer. It is interesting to see what changes when you go from idea to realized product.

What changed: The title. Long time blog readers know that this book went through about half a dozen different titles before we settled on this one. The fascinating part? “I know how she does it” was originally listed as the title of chapter one in the proposal. So I guess the idea was there all along.

I also didn’t wind up studying or writing about my subjects’ partners. I originally included a chapter abstract on the topic, but decided not to go there in this book at least. I do think that there is much to be written about men, and how they handle work and life. My husband had the sort of day yesterday that would make for fascinating work/life discussion fodder. He drove to meetings the first half of the day. He went to our 5-year-old’s class to talk about Norway at 2 (he lived there for 5 years; they’re learning about various countries). He worked from home until 6, did family dinner, and took the big kids in the pool. Then he got on a train bound for Newark so he could get on a flight. It was not the train that derailed, thankfully. I feel very lucky; it easily could have been. I’ve spent much of the day pondering the families devastated by that. The point in my husband’s case, though, is that this is the sort of day we’d describe as crazy on mom forums. Whereas I don’t think he’ll ever describe it as an example of “how he does it.” Men just do it.

What didn’t change: I wanted to do a time diary study and write about it, and that’s what I wound up doing. The chapters themselves cover similar material aside from the absence of the partner part.

In the overview of the book idea, I described an email I’d received from a woman billing 2000+ hours on the partner track of a law firm. She had two young kids and a husband who worked too. She noted that my post about how one could work 55 hours and still see your kids could have been written about her. She wanted to add that she had had her “perfect” day on Sunday: playing with the kids, gardening, lots of relaxed time. Despite the busyness of her set-up, she had white space in her life. She had time for hugs and dandelions.

It is that sense that life for women with big jobs and families is not a hyper-scheduled march from one duty to the next that I wished to convey in my book. I hope I have succeeded. We shall see!

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