a “variety” of thoughts

In ALL, BOOK PUBLISHING by Stephanie Klein50 Comments

Variety You know the trades never get it quite right. I’m a lot of things, but a "comic" isn’t one of them. Still, I’ll take it. Thank you, Variety. And to answer all your emails, I LOVE working with Marco.

Here’s what’s scary: the fact that you let people know you’re trying to do this thing, that there’s a learning curve of course, but that you publicly recognize that you’re working on this thing that can possibly fail. It’s a risk. Whether or not it happens, well, it doesn’t have to come down to you… I mean there can be a million reasons. And you’ll cling to that “other” reason instead of taking it personally. Except you just don’t know. “It’s not you; it’s me,” they might say.

I spend my time thinking positive thoughts, knowing, really that I’ll be known for writing this brilliant, amazing, romantic comedy one day. I just know. Or I did know. I had a moment where I knew. Now I question it all, though. What if I put all this time and effort into this show that goes nowhere? I write an incredible script, one my agent will tell me is considered b+ or better, only what if it’s not? What if he just says that? Everyone in LA says things. I don’t think anyone tells you that what you created isn’t good enough. They don’t tell you they felt medium-warm about it because no one uses the term "medium-warm." If anything, they say it’s too similar to something else they’ve already committed to. They tell you focus groups didn’t like the talent, or didn’t respond the way they thought. Or it doesn’t even get to focus groups. They tell you it’s a problem with their boss. I don’t know what they’ll tell me.

I can’t do anything to protect myself from disappointment. But there are moments when I’m alone and say to myself, “Okay, think good thoughts. Be positive. Put it out there.” I believe in the power of positive thinking, in setting goals for yourself, in not giving up. Though I’m much more likely to complain a lot, and then, in my own private moments, I’ll just wish. I think it would certainly help if I was entrenched in an additional project, though. That way, I wouldn’t be leaving this one decision to be so win/lose. It would be nice, but it wouldn’t be everything. And right now, it’s so much of my everyday work life. It’s a lot of thinking, of notes, of revisions, of comparisons. And a lot of questioning myself.

But if nothing else, it’s learning. I’m learning and growing, and I love doing it. I do recognize though that I should be working on my next book as well. It’s like dating a pair and a spare. Juggle three projects at once, that way you’re not too upset when one leaves you for the next new hot young thing.

I never know how a call will go, if it’s simply notes and specifics or if there’s more general talk about differentiating the show from the others that are there and have been there, from the ones that have failed, and from the ones that became part of our vernacular.  What I do know is that I love storytelling. I love the idea that if this show happens more people will know about the book. Because Straight Up and Dirty is the kind of book that changes lives. It really does. For all the talk about it being Sex and The City-esque, it’s still a book that goes beyond laughter and quips. It’s a book with heart and strength, and who couldn’t use more of that?

I want to be real to the struggle of it. To the pain. You know what? I was a zombie when it first happened. Yes, I was off and running, dating, but when it first happened, I still couldn’t sleep at night. I slugged through work, a shell of a body, empty and alone. There was a sadness that hung on my insides. But I didn’t want pity, and I didn’t want clichés. I wanted time to fast-forward. I wasn’t some woebegone chick crying in public or to anyone who’d listen. I was updating an online dating profile. I was chasing what I thought I had. I was lost and didn’t believe that meant there was even more to discover. I was scared and didn’t see it as an adventure. I wanted to bitch-slap people. I wanted to cry to my dog and to smile at boys. It was hard. Rebuilding a life always is. In the end though, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’d rather risk and fail than never try, for sure.But mostly, I’d rather risk and succeed. The truth is though no matter how much you succeed, you never stop taking risks or being scared. Instead of "I want to make it" it just becomes "I don’t want to lose it."


  1. Your book changed my life. It really did. I read it BEFORE ending a horrible relationship, a 4 year live-in relationship, and it was a horrible, long, drawn-out breakup — I've read it twice since then, just to keep reassuring myself that I did the right thing (no question about that), and that my guy is out there somewhere. Thank you for writing it, thank you for being brave and sharing the times when you made bad choices. I related to it so much, staying in a bad relationship and workin' my ass off just because hey, I can do anything if I work hard enough. I've recommended it to many women. It's so real. Yes, it's sex and the city'esque, and that's perhaps what makes it entertaining, but it's also inspiring. You are very brave, and you've made me brave. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  2. 'shoot for the moon, at least you'll land among the stars".

    also… who knows what will change in the hearts of someone who reads the script even if its not picked up?!

    but, it will go great for you. here is hoping for your comedy, but knowing that each new step in the journey will enable you to help channel the past hurts into positives!

  3. Which characters are going to make it to the show? I love Smelly and Max. Are you gonna be badass?

  4. I just read Straight Up and I have to tell you it changed my life. I was such a sad sack needing affirmation from all guys. Hope that comes through in the show.

  5. My friend in Georgia sent me Straight Up & Dirty for Valentines day after a breakup. I need to get another as this copy has too many underlined parts!

  6. Any show that can make me laugh and cry at the same time like SU&D did will be a hit!

  7. In this economy we need some Straight Up to get back on track. Obama and furkid. 2009!

  8. I would suggest someone play you who is not the perfect body type. I mean not to offend but to make it relateable. All you went through is out there in your books and makes it real. No stick figures please.

  9. I just read the article and came over to this site. Like finding a sample sale hidden in a basement. I want your writing all to myself.

  10. No Lucy Liu. I'm sick of her going on shows and ruining them into being cancelled.

  11. It must be difficult deciding what stories and themes to include and further. Looks like you have some heavy hitter professionals working with you on this. Good luck.

  12. ABC must be doing cartwheels to work with you. Everything on TV is so derivative. Bring your voice to TV!

  13. And what about MOOSE? I can't wait to relive someone elses fat childhood on the big screen.

  14. Will you be moving to L.A.? Another adventure I hope to read about and live through your eyes. LOVE Straight Up & Dirty and love that you are making it into a TV show.

  15. Straight Up And Dirty is a book I tell anyone I speak with to pick up. Like an old friend. TV is natural for your attitude. I'll watch!

  16. You should have your readers get involved in deciding what story lines to pursue. We feel so involved already. Awesome!

  17. ABC is the perfect network for you. I just hope they let you be Straight Up and Dirty.

  18. Do you know what the chances are, percentage-wise, or writing a pilot and getting it actually made?
    I think that even if it were not to work out, you're learning a LOT about screenwriting, what works and what doesn't, focus grouping, etc etc.

  19. Maybe you could post some of the script here as focus group? I know I'm just being impatient. Can't wait!

  20. I hope they don't start with the comparisons- Sex and The City, Gossip Girl, etc. This book is so unique in its storytelling and attitude. bring it Klein!

  21. I know your partners in this produce "Samantha Who?". I think the writing on that show is very clever. Will yours be a sitcom?

  22. When you do something you don't go half assed do you? I see the producers did Sopranos. Don't let them Whack you.

  23. With the state of TV these days I welcome your fresh take on things. Please hurry. Please.

  24. Just what I need! Another reason to glue myself to the recliner and stuff my piehole. Actually, that's exactly what I need! Can't wait.

  25. Yeah its official, all this talk about SU&D and I'm going to have to go re-read it again. I really loved it the first time and I think that some of your messages still haven't totally been applied to my life like I know I want them to be.

  26. I am really excited to see this next chapter, don't doubt yourself – it will be great.
    Just stay true to the story and don't compromise too much of your self.

  27. I can't say that SUAD changed my life, like The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving (I know you're a fan, too!). I can't say that it's the best book ever written (I'm SURE some here would disagree). I can't say that it empowers women (whoa, am I headed for some…comments in this discussion). I can say that I am glad that you changed your life, you found empowerment in writing it and getting it published and going through that process, as difficult (but worth it) as I am sure it was. I'm very glad for you and for those who found that same empowerment. I was not one of them. For me, empowerment is reading something like Bastard Out of Carolina or Jazz by Toni Morrison. I don't know. Are we all critics? I'm not trying to be critical, just a voice saying that, as someone who lives in New York City, my life is nothing like what was portrayed in the book. Sure, I go to the places you went to. I go the the Meatpacking District and try a new restaurant. My boyfriend once projectile vomited outside of Pastis. Oh, and he's an attorney, a profession that I think attracts the opposite sex. Funny, though, when I met him in Ohio on a certain campaign many years ago, it wasn't that that made us get together. It was our shared values and our commitment to political action and community organizing. And here I am, at a crossroads after this election, happy as can be, but also lost. And I'm going to turn to a book to help me. It won't be SUAD, but I do keep it around. Any…suggestions? I'm a life-long reader, a life-long writer, and a life-long strong woman. I need some inspiration.

    Thanks for writing what you do. Good luck with the television show. It must be challenging and fun and frustrating to try to write for television. Good for you for attempting it. You are still growing as a writer.

    Sorry for the long post. Thanks for opening up comments to everyone. Not everyone is so generous with their blog space. That is definitely something I admire about you. Again, many thanks, Stephanie. I hope you keep inspiring all of your loyal fans. For me, I find inspiration in your process of writing rather than your life and events in it. For me, I can separate them. But I'm not you. It must be entertwined for you. It's interesting, isn't it….

  28. Soooo excited! I am rereading SUAD as we speak – and I just love it – I laugh, I ache…I experience every emotion.

    I am really proud of you for stepping into something so dramatically different from what you have done before.

    You rock.

  29. Ya know, before I saw your Twitter I was thinking about you today. I saw that one of my favorite authors (Jennifer Belle) had published another book and I about wet my pants driving to the bookstore to obtain said book. I wondered to myself if this book of hers would measure up to my favorite (her second book), as her first book which I read after I read her second book (confused yet?) disappointed me a bit.

    I still read it without putting it down. Finished it in a day b/c I couldnt put it down, but it still did not have the hold on me as her second book.
    This got me thinking about books I have not been able to put down. There have only been a few. Yours (SU&D) has been on of them. Belle's another. Wally Lamb's work another.
    Don't worry about failure. See it in your mind and it'll happen. I know it will.

    Question: what does the article mean by single camera laffer? It will be shot in documentary style?

    Congrats. You deserve it.

    FROM STEPHANIE: Thank you for the encouragment and the couldn't-put-it-down words. The "laffer" part is slang for "funny." Traditional sitcoms are filmed with multiple cameras all filming at the same time (sometimes with laugh track and filmed with live studio audience). Whereas "single-camera"is just the one camera that allows for a more creative approach, giving the director more control with the ability of much slicker visuals. And no, it doesn't mean documentary style… the following are examples of single-camera comedies:

    From Wiki: More recently, television has seen a rise in the use of single-camera in innovative comedies such as Malcolm in the Middle (2000–2006), Scrubs (2001–), Arrested Development (2003–2006), The Office (2005–), My Name is Earl (2005–), Weeds (2005–) and 30 Rock (2006–). Unlike single-camera sitcoms of the past, nearly all contemporary comedies shot in this manner are produced without a laugh track.

  30. Thank you, elle. I was afraid to post it. I appreciate your comment. And thank you again to Stephanie for letting everyone's voice be heard.

    I forgot to mention that I also projectile vomited outside Balthazar. But I was on chemo at the time, so…we'll just chalk it up to that.

    I admit, I am enjoying this post a lot.

  31. You're so good. Posts like these are why I keep coming back to read. Thanks for sharing your heart and your wisdom. It means a lot to me.

  32. Kelly – nicely put. And not at all nasty. I doubt anyone will criticize you for having an opinion. I can't say SUAD changed my life too b/c it wasn't out after my particular crappy larger than life breakup. But it was a good read.

    And now I have put a few John Irving books in my cart on Amazon.
    I need to get out of my book rut this winter and I have heard my dad tell me for years to read him. Thanks for the books mentioned will check them all out. Only read one Toni Morrison book and that needs to change.

  33. Oh and if doesn't get picked up don't take it personally. Hollywood is fickle and some people don't know what's good if it hit them over the head. Regardless you'll make contacts and this is learning the process. Maybe someone will want to make a movie and you'll end up bypassing tv completely. Wouldn't that be excellent? Stranger things have happened.
    Now I want to watch 'Swimming With Sharks' again. ha.

  34. Like Elle, I really enjoyed Kelly's comment. It articulated my ambivalence about SUAD. I am also a HUGE "Jazz" fan. Wow. That book really influenced me in high school. But I admire you, Stephanie, for your ability to put it all out there. Not many people (myself included) could do that.

  35. Anytime I'm doing something important (or important to me anyways) there is a point when I just know … I know if it's right. Of course, it may turn out great or terrible or in the middle, but at that time it is right for me to be working /focused on that. Sorry for not being more articulate, but I'm sure ppl you get what I'm talking about. And as long as you know that this is right for you right now, that's all you can ask for no?

    Will be crossing my fingers for you!

  36. Kelly, I enjoyed your post very much. I cant imagine how SUAD changed anyones life except for Steohanies. That said, it was an enjoyable read and I wish you all the best.

  37. I'm impressed that people here have remained so calm (as they should) about a dissenting opinion. I think the key is it wasn't said to be nasty, which we can all respect.

    Stephanie, both of your books changed my life in different ways. Straight Up and Dirty, the first time I read it was just a fun witty read that I couldn't put down, but when my seven year relationship ended suddenly, I clung to your book as my bible, and it was better than any therapy or self-help book I could find. It seriously is a life-changing book because your words gave me the courage to view my life as an adventure.

    I was not an overweight child–in fact I've always been thin, and when I was young, I was too thin. I developed late, and I was absolutely tormented. Moose brought me back to those times and reminded me what it was like to want so much to be liked, and reading Moose made me realize just how much of that childhood need I still hung on to… I still want so much to be liked, to the fault of living for others instead of myself. BOTH of your books, and this blog, too, give me the courage to live for myself and to stop caring "what will people think?"

    Thank you for all you do, especially with listening to the people who say your words haven't touched them in a meaningful way. What you do isn't just entertainment, it's enriching for all of us.

  38. Instead of "I want to make it" it just becomes "I don't want to lose it."

    Observations like that are what make me keep reading this site religiously (also pics of the beans). Love this blog!

  39. SUAD seems a natural fit for TV and esp for ABC. I would be surprised if Moose found a home though. It's a hard sell — who is the target audience? It isn't really for kids, because it is so sexual, but it isn't really for adults, bc it's about kids. Only two networks do true teen programming — ABC family and CW… and those kind of shows seem only to succeed when the characters are thin and beautiful. It's horrible but true. Think Gossip Girls vs. Freaks and Geeks.

    FROM SK: You'd be surprised. That's all I'll say.

  40. "Because Straight Up and Dirty is the kind of book that changes lives."

    ….what, you serious???

    "It really does. For all the talk about it being Sex and The City-esque"

    ….um duh yeah it totally is a ripoff…

    "it’s a book with heart and strength, and who couldn’t use more of that?"…………..

    …..it's total "clit-lit" as you so crudely like to say…a must-read on the beach, amusing and light and airy…that's the purpose it serves….dont make it like it's loftier than that

  41. I must say I completely agree with the comment above, I underlined a few things in your book but it certainly didn't change my life.

    Nonetheless, I'm appreciative that so many other women out there (as evidence by almost every other comment above) were inspired by your strength to write so candidly about your experiences. That, more than anything I have ever read of yours, is touching.

  42. Hey, Sex and the City had heart and strenght, I think that's what made it so successful.

    That aside, as a non-American I totally don't get what "putting it out there" stands for. Putting what our where? Putting ones opinion out into the open? It sounds like an easy umbrella term.

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