An Over Thought Out Maybe-Baby Book for Gays and Their Allies

Today, I’m preoccupied with two things – tonight’s stand up set and my book proposal.  My agent looked over the proposal and she likes it.  But, she also keeps saying one thing to me — “make sure it’s research heavy.”


Now, this all comes back to what genre are you writing?  It’s something that I hate thinking about, but, at the same time, I realize it’s a necessary evil.  It’s akin to saying, “what is your voice” when you write.  And that topic alone is enough to drive a writer insane.  So, I try to think about voice and genre, as little as possible.  However, it’s unavoidable.  If you want to write something that is strong, you really need to think about who might read it and why.  That’s the genre.  I think.


When the book proposal process began, I pitched a topic that deals with “gaybies” to my agent.  It was a loose idea and I wanted more help solidifying the concept.  She came back with Mary Roach as an example.  Mary has written “Stiff” and “Bonk” just to name a few.  “Stiff” is about cadavers and what happens to the physical body after you die.  “Bonk” is about the history of sex and sex research.  Mary is an investigative journalist who adds herself into the investigative equation.


Basically, Mary’s books are what I would call, “investigative non-fiction.”


So, my book will be something along those lines, but my goal is to stick some “memoir” in there too.  In other words, I want it to include some of what I do on this blog.  At the very least, the flavor of what I do on this blog.  Maybe my genre is something closer to, “real life experiences injected into investigative non-fiction.”  Something like that.  I suppose what I’m trying to say is…I don’t think I’ll ever get as investigative as Mary because what happens to me is, I research my topic and then the most obscure of details stick out.  It’s those obscure details that I want to take further because – most of the time – I can mine them for funny.


It’s a hard thing to nail down.  I feel like I keep saying to myself, “I want to write like that (like Mary), but filled with more me.”  And how the hell do you explain that to anyone?  Let alone a publisher?


So, let’s talk the title of this post — AN OVER THOUGHT OUT MAYBE-BABY BOOK FOR GAYS AND THEIR ALLIES.  That’s what I’d call the most descriptive tagline for my book.  So, there would be the book title and then this tagline underneath.  If my book were a movie, let’s say, that would be its one sentence log-line.


It has taken me forever to strip that sentence down to its most basic theme to make sure I stay on track with the book.


Since Sweet Mother has been my space to think out loud, I’m going to break that sentence down even further.


An Over Thought Out — This is my tongue and cheek way of saying, “You really do NOT need to think this much about having a baby or a gayby.”  You could just “procure” some sperm somewhere and make it happen or if you’re a straight couple have a drunken night and turn your honeymoon bed into a gymboree.  But, the truth is I like to “over think” things especially topics I find interesting.  What is comedy if not “over think,” dissection, over analysis, poking apart something and then putting it back in a different way?  The “over think” is part my neurosis, part my comedy dragon rearing its head, and part my desire to be Mary Roach-esque seeping my topic in research.


Maybe-Baby Book — Doing the research for my book, I came across something called, “Maybe Baby Classes.”  Maybe Baby Classes are something that has been put together (started in the early 80s) by LGBT centers across the country.  They are classes for prospective LGBT parents and they try to help you assess your “readiness” for child rearing.  The whole book is about me and Wifesy assessing our own personal readiness for a kid, all told, in a funny way.  So, there’s your maybe-baby part.


For Gays and Their Allies — Now, here’s an interesting part.  I suppose the market for my book IS the would-be gay and lesbian parent market.  However, I do not want those to be the only people who read my book.  In fact, if I were to really analyze the audience that reads my Sweet Mother blog, I think, the minority are gay people.  I don’t think that I speak only to the gay community and, as such, I want to produce a book that is appealing to both gays and the people who understand them.  A lot of you, here, I think fall into the latter category.  I’m not sure how else to say that other than, “ally.”  I could say, “A book for gays and the friends of gays,” but that gets to convoluted.  Though, I’d love to start a new community of “FOAGS” (pronounced fo-ags), which, of course, stands for FRIEND OF A GAY.  I mean, think of the t-shirt possibilities!


That’s my book thinking process of the current moment, as I do the finishing revisions suggested by my agent.  I think I’m closer and closer to the laser-focus I need for the subject matter of the book.  However, I’m NOT sure I’ve included enough “researchable” possibilities in the proposal.  It’s a work in progress.  But, if the idea sells, I think it’s going to be a fantastic area to wade in for a while.


What about all of you?  When you write, longer, book-ish projects do you find yourself always trying to nail down the theme?  Or is it something that’s pretty established from the get go for you?



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32 thoughts on “An Over Thought Out Maybe-Baby Book for Gays and Their Allies

  1. My novel has come back from the editor and I’m still struggling with a good, catchy title that works for the book. Currently, it’s Tuned In, but that doesn’t grab the way some might. I know what the theme is, but it’s always hard to describe a theme, again: in an interesting, grab you way. No agent, and no publisher… just an offer from someone who has been in magazine publishing for 25+ years (and successful at it) to help me self-publish. Oh the sleep I’ve lost over all of these decisions… tough calls Mom. :-p

    1. they are, aren’t they. sometimes i have to overwrite and then cut out the hodgepodge, so it’s not the easiest for me to put a ‘this could maybe be the book’ together. mary roach, apparently, is genius at a book proposal. it’s a very interesting learning process, regardless. xoxo, sm

  2. The only long-ish writing I’ve really done were my dissertations. I tended to break them into five sections with a six section to connect them in a conclusion. Not sure if that helps you in any way at all.

    1. loool. mainly the place where i’m not stuck, but pondering is my proposed ‘table of contents’ section. it’s basically a section where you include a list of would-be chapters and their summaries if the book were to get picked up. I find out what I want to write, after I research it, so it leaves me treading water a little bit, if that makes sense. so…we’ll see. basically, i need a publisher to take a chance on it and if they do, i’ll dive in. my table of contents maybe change a bit though. time will tell if i’ll be writing it at all! fingers crossed. xo, sm

  3. I think when you wrote “I suppose the market for my book IS the would-be gay and lesbian parent market”, you really meant, “I suppose the market for my book IS the gay and lesbian would-be parent market”.

    Unless you’re not sure if they’re gay and neither are they!

    Other than that, good stuff. We all struggle to find a voice and I’m sure mine is so mixed up it sounds like a 70-yr-old smoker from Yonkers who spent 20 years in Alabama making moon shine.

    1. you say tomato, i say tomato. oh wait, that’s the same thing. loool. yes, i see what you’re saying. however, i tend to write in over hyphenated, run-on chucks. so, it should’ve been the would-be-gay-and-lesbian-parenting market. if you separate any of those things it’s a different thing entirely. as you’ve pointed out, however, my intention is for it NEVER to be separated like a cojoined twin!! regardless, point taken. and as for your voice, that sounds like a good one. or at least one i’d read… 😉 sm

  4. I have no experiences with books, but I did write newspaper articles for awhile and I always tried to write a nut graph before I started the article. That sounds somewhat ball sac-like, but the nut graph is what is this story in a nutshell. It kept me on track.

    I would buy your book in a heartbeat. You could even put that as a back cover blurb even though no one knows me.

    1. oh… careful what you wish for. i’d love to have your anonymity as a back cover blurb… well, time will tell. loool. i think i’m on track and know what i’m doing with the book, but just about every other day i question it. sigh. welp, in sept, i’ll know. so, there’s that. lol. xo, sm

  5. I love Mary Roach 🙂 Isn’t your approach sort of similar to some travel books? My sister likes to read those books that are part travel, part memoir. I’d think it could work. At least, I’d like to read it.

    1. thank you, nicole. that’s very nice of you to say. i think she wants to know how to pitch it. and the how is definitely something she needs. it’s the same in comedy, they are always like, ‘can we get someone like lewis black or roseanne barr’ and until you are that person, they’re never going to ask for the you. but, you have to stick to something. so, i’m trying to find a me form of investigative journalism. i think i have it, but we shall see… much love, sm

  6. I’ve found with my writing that themes sometimes sneak in… Who knows what sub’themes will show themselves in your work?

    I agree with pinkagendist – you’ve got your mainstream balance just right. And you know my thoughts on this – it’s usually the people who’d make the best parents who are overthinking this – while everyone else is just having unprotected sex and then going, oops, I made a baby…

    Here’s to you, and your glorious overthinking, and your awesome humour, and a really good book contract, Sweet Mother! I’ll drink to that 😀 xx

    1. i think the funny is in the overthinking. if i can create a book where everyone is going, “JUST DO IT, ALREADY!!” lol. then i think i’ll really have something. i love your comments on here, cauldrons. i sincerely feel like you can see my future sometimes. truly. 😉 much love, sm

  7. I generally operate my life with little forethought, and writing is no different. That’s why it took me three years to write my thesis. Sigh, you’re much, much smarter than me SM. But, when I was doing research projects I found that coming up with a table of contents (or at least a comprehensive list of topics) would help to direct and focus my research so I didn’t get too scattered and go off on too many tangents. Then I would just tackle one topic at a time and flesh it out. If you do too much research or change your mind later, well, so be it! Always good to have material for a second book when this one’s a raging success.

    1. yep, i’ve tried to do that a bit in the proposal, but i’m not sure i have the thing totally nailed down. the sails are up, but they should be more secured. you know what i mean? sorry about the sailing analogy. it’s early. lol. much love, sm

  8. In every post you write you present interesting or controversial themes in a gentle, humorous, non-judgemental way – except for references to a-holes of course. 😉 I would imagine a Sweet Mum book to be exactly the same way – a humorous look at gaybies based on real research and real facts.

    The thing is that no-one really wants to read page after page of statistics. No-one wants to read masses of dry, boring exposition.

    We want someone to take us by the hand and show us the promised land without planting a boot in our collective behinds. That describes your writing to a ‘T’. Trust your instincts Mum. Write the book you would like to read and worry about the themes after the fact! They’ll probably evolve better during the writing anyway.

    Oh and anecdotes that illustrate the ‘facts’ make reading and learning just that much more pleasurable.

    1. you are too good to me, meeks. too good. but, please, never stop! loool. i think you’ve nailed it with the ‘instincts’ commentary. i’m an overthinking, but that gut is usually right. much love, sm

  9. For picking a genre, I think you need to think about what kind of books you want your book to be next to in a bookstore. Unfortunately, chain bookstores (like the one I work for) have a very small Gay and Lesbian sections that are hardly seen. But like you said, you do not want your audience to be just the gay community. The memoir/biography category might fit you best. People like to read about other people’s lives. They do not want a clinical “how-to-do-this” book – they want to read about another’s unique journey. Adding your experiences and personal touches with research to back it up sounds like the perfect balance. Good luck!

    1. my agent says that gays and lesbians really buy books. who knows? but, she says that it’s a good genre to sell because they have decent buying numbers or something to that effect. but, i’m with you… i don’t want it only in that section. i’d love if it was in gay and lesbian and also in ‘humor’. i think that would work for me. as far as memoir, i think my next book is going to have to be one. but, the minute you think memoir, you have to think of how to organize it and that’s where i get all cray-cray and it ends up shifting me into another genre. a great example of memoir and then a memoir well organized is caitlin moran’s ‘how to be a woman’ — it’s totally hilarious. and if you pick it up and read just the table of contents/ chapter list, even, you’ll be laughing. looool. anyway, kat. thank you. i think this is great, GREAT commentary. very helpful too. much love, sm

  10. I don’t write books, so I’ll comment on the book you picked instead. 🙂
    It’s one that I really want to read. One of my neighbors and I traded books (she let me borrow Bonk) and I discovered that Mary Roach is hilarious

    1. i highly, highly recommend mary roach’s stuff. she’s brilliant and hilarious. stiff is genius. if you can get your hands on that, you’ll love it. much love, sm

    1. ff, THANK YOU. that might be the exact thing i need to hear right now. for reals. maybe genre-breaking is actually a good thing. lool. and those t-shirts are coming, i promise u. lool. much love, sm

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