Laura Zigman is a writer who lives in Auburndale, Massachusetts with her husband and six and a half year-old son. Laura is the author of several books, including Animal Husbandry, on which the movie Someone Like You was based, and her latest novel titled Piece of Work. In her interview Laura talks about her path to becoming a successful writer and reveals the not-always-rosy reality of making a living by writing books. She talks candidly about the pressure of being the primary breadwinner, the challenges of working from home, and why jungle gyms may forever remind her of her worst experience as a working mom.
You make a living as a writer, something so many moms seem to dream about. Can you talk about how you got here? What did you do before you became a freelance and book author?
I realize I am in an enviable position. I know this because I used to have a “job” job. I worked in the publicity department at Random House for 10 years. I was single at the time and I remember, I’d be there until 9pm at night and some of my colleagues, who had kids, were there just as late. So I know I am very lucky to not have to commute to work or stay at work until late-night hours.
I got burned out at Random House and finally quit after 10 years. I quit without another job lined up which is something I’d never done. I moved to Washington, DC since I had some friends there got a job at the Smithsonian. It was one of those jobs where I was home by 5:20pm every night. At first, I thought “Oh, my god! What am I doing here?” But then I began to get really excited about being home so early.
I had been working on a book when I was still in New York – Animal Husbandry. And finally, when I realized I had all this free time and when I wasn’t burned out anymore, I started fixing it up and rewriting it I had a clean draft in a few months.
After I found an agent things happened very fast. The book was sold to a publisher here, then in a lot of other countries, and then there was a movie sale. I was incredibly lucky; timing is everything in publishing, like most things: At the time, there were no books for single women – no “chick lit” as it’s now called -- and so my novel which was all about a single woman, seemed very different.
And then I got to quit my day job and become a full-time writer.
You’ve had a dream career as a writer, it seems. Your first book was made into a movie and you went on to publish many other books. It is as much of a dream as it appears?