How YOU can get a book deal
Who's saying what
Take a look at the website of the enchanting author, Liz Gilbert. Actually, please don't. You will be blinded by not only the massive success of her book, Eat, Pray, Love, but also by the most sickly shade of yellow. Seriously. Scary. Stuff. Click on that link and your day will get worse. I'm so sorry.
I mention Liz's book because it is one of the most well-known of this "experiments in living" genre. And this is a genre that, for some reason, captures the imagination of the reading public like nothing else.
Eat, Pray, Love has just been made into a film starring Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem and James Franco (that is Julia in the film, above), but Gilbert's not the only one who's had massive success with the "My Year Of Doing Something A Bit Crazy" thing. If we want to advance our own media careers—and I know we all do—then we can learn a LOT from this genre.
Here are some examples:
1. The Year of Living Celibately
Hephzibah Anderson didn't have sex for a year, and then she wrote a book about it. "My chaste year raised plenty of troubling questions," she writes in the book.
That might be true, but as is always the case with these sorts of books, she also explains how it ended up being "a very rich year of self-discovery". Take note of that sentence, because "very rich" and "self-discovery" are key outcomes of this type of book.
Hephzibah was on Colbert last week, and the clip was fairly good for many reasons, but mainly because Colbert took the piss completely. Well worth a look.
2. The Year of Joyful Harvesting
Barbara Kingsolver is the author of a bunch of books, including The Poisonwood Bible and most recently, The Lacuna. In 2007 she and her family threw themselves into a rural existence for a year in which they vowed to only buy food raised in their own neighbourhood, food that they grew themselves, or else learn to live without it. Then they wrote a sweet little book about it.
Don't they look just so happy in matching, bold-coloured t-shirt bliss?!
"This is the story of a year in which we made every attempt to feed ourselves animals and vegetables whose provenance we really knew . . . and of how our family was changed by our first year of deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbours, drank the water, and breathed the air."
It's one of my favourites of the "My Year Of" genre, because, well, I'm a complete hippie, and also because it's just nice.
3. The Year of Living Biblically
AJ Jacobs is a master of doing idiotic things and then writing books about it. To wit: The Know It All: One Man's Humble Attempt to Become the Smartest Man in the World, in which he spent the whole year reading the Encyclopedia Britannica. And his latest basically reaches the zenith of the genre: The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life As an Experiment.
But today we are interested in:The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. In his own words, this book is about:
"My quest to live the ultimate biblical life. To follow every single rule in the Bible – as literally as possible. I obey the famous ones:
* The Ten Commandments
* Love thy neighbor
* Be fruitful and multiply
But also, the hundreds of oft-ignored ones.
* Do not wear clothes of mixed fibers.
* Do not shave your beard
* Stone adulterers "
It's a pretty brilliant book pitch. But the best thing about this one is its endless possibility for ludicrous photo shoots:
PS: Check out Jacobs' tips about how you, too, can live biblically!
4. The Year of Living Child-ishly
That's Julia Child-ishly. This book has been one of the most successful of the "My Year Of" genre, along with Eat, Pray, Love. It all started with Julie Powell's blog way back in 2003, but her latest book, Cleaving, also follows the "do something crazy and then write a book about it" formula. (She becomes an apprentice butcher and writes a book about it.)
5. The Year of Living Oprah-tically
Pretty much The Year of Living Biblically, but with Oprah as God. That sentence makes so much more sense than it really probably should.
A yoga teacher follows every single tip for living that Oprah suggests for a whole year. That meant 1,202 focused hours, or about 75 full days, excluding sleep, of following everything Oprah says. It's an idea of pure evil genius.
But in this interview, we see the true emotional toll that Living Oprah had on its author:
"It was incredibly draining, and it made me really sad. It made me sad to think of how many hours I've lost—even when I wasn't doing the project—to blindly following advice and listening to what other people tell me I should be doing to create my own happiness. I wondered how many hours other women have lost in the course of their lives to that."
So, now you know how to become a media megastar! Just do something a bit ridiculous for a year and write a book about it. Shouldn't be too hard. My own is going to be called "My Year of KStew .gifs". Look out for it.
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