5 from 35: Author Q & A with Steph Auteri

AuteriSteph Auteri, 38, published her first book, A Dirty Word: How A Sex Writer Reclaimed Her Sexuality, with Cleis Press this October. Read more here

How long did it take you to write your first (published) book, start to finish?

About seven years, I think? Of course, my first iteration was very different from what the book eventually became. Plus, there was a long, extended break in the middle of those seven years where I got pregnant and distracted.

What kind of work did you do to support yourself while writing your first book?  

I’m a full-time freelance writer and editor. So, like most freelancers, I juggled a billion different things: blogging, ghostwriting, journalism, editing, social media management, career coaching, teaching (writing and yoga)… the mix of work certainly kept me from getting bored.

Auteri_9781627782760Did you ever want to quit writing? Why didn’t you?

After the first iteration of my book, and after receiving the most positive rejections ever from numerous publishers, my then-agent and I batted around a few ideas for how I could make the book more attractive to publishers. But I felt I was just getting further and further away from the book I actually wanted to write. Then I got pregnant. After I gave birth to my daughter, there were a number of months during which I thought: Welp, this is it. I guess my life as a writer is over. This motherhood thing is just the thing I’m doing now. I didn’t have the brain power or the energy to write. But then, one day, I knew I needed to be writing again. I couldn’t just be this one thing. Motherhood couldn’t be the only way I defined myself.

In the time since you first published, have you been able to quit your day job?

Buaaahahaha. It was never my attention to just write books. I’ve worked in book publishing before and I know that becoming an author is not some golden ticket, though it’s certainly not impossible to devote your life to it. But I’m much more fulfilled by the short-form work I do.

What are you reading right now?  

I nerd out about books for Book Riot, so I’m reading a couple ARCs right now. I’m most of the way through the egalley for Sarah Weinman’s The Real Lolita, and I’m also almost done with the ARC of Grady Hendrix’s We Sold Our Souls. On top of that, I’m juggling the latest issues of Oxford American, Mother Jones, and Pacific Standard.