45 minutes | Feb 11, 2020

The Middle Finger Project by Ash Ambirge Interview

If you need inspiration on how to show up, demand better, have more courage, wit, creativity, spark, exhilaration, and money in life - this book is for you! Order your copy of The Middle Finger Project on Amazon or from the publisher, Penguin Random House Amazon.com: The Middle Finger Project (Hardcover) Audible: The Middle Finger Project Penguin Random House: The Middle Finger Project Or read the full transcript below Leann 0:58 I am totally fangirling and excited today to finally talk to ash amber Shay, author of the middle finger project book, and it's also the name of her company. Thank you, Ash for coming today. Ash Ambirge 1:11 Hi, Leann. I might be the loudest author that you get on this podcast. I'm not I'm just gonna preface this with that. Thank you for having me. Leann 1:24 Yay. So luckily for me, Ash said yes, when she put the call out for podcasters and interviews for her new book. It is coming February 11 from Penguin Random House, and you should preorder it now. If you haven't already, there should only be a couple hours left by the time this drops. So thank you, Ash and tell me why a book why now you've had the middle finger project for years. You've blogged for years since like the dinosaur age of the internet. Ash Ambirge 2:00 Isn't that terrifying? Leann 2:03 You have forever. And so now you're going to put out a book. Wait a minute, Why? What happened? Ash Ambirge 2:08 I you know what, I think this is great because everyone listening is obviously a book lover. So it's a really nice change of pace to get to talk about the process of writing a book. I'm just going to be straight with you. I got signed with my literary agency in 2015, October of 2015. It is today, January of 2020. So that was literally five years ago, out of the decade that I've been doing this, so I did start a while ago. And then we went through a lengthy process of figuring out what this book was supposed to look like. And it took so many rewrites of sample chapters and proposal writing that I worked with my agency on in New York and they were great and fantastic and so supportive. I never realized that they you know, I guess it depends on agency. But I never realized it was going to be such a hands on process. We did not actually pitch Penguin, and all publishers until well, I guess it was the end of 2017. We signed with penguin in March of 2018. So from the time we signed until now, it's it's two years later, it's just a very long process. Can you can you believe it? Oh, my gosh. Leann 3:29 So wait a minute, you didn't already have the perfect book written in the first draft. Just to give listeners a little bit of background. She is a background in creative writing and copywriting and that is where she started. So for first time authors out there, even the experienced one doesn't start out with a perfect draft is how what happened? Oh, gosh, Ash Ambirge 3:53 no. And you know what I counted at one time, I gotta go back and look what the number was. I think I rewrote The sample chapters around 30 times. And that is that's maddening. It's, it's actually sick. So you got to be a sicko to this job. But I will tell you what happened. Originally, when I first signed with literary agency, you're like, that's everyone's dream come true, right? You're like, Oh my god, someone thinks that this could be a book. And I jumped up and down and I did a whole video on Instagram about it. I'm so excited. And that's when it all just, I mean, that was the very beginning. And the agency loved the concept that I had pitched and actually the sample chapters, but when we did kind of a little bit of sampling around with some of their in house folks and a couple of editor friends, the editor friends and in house folks were kind of like, you know what, though, we would really like to see something thing that felt a little bit more xy or z. And so we started tweaking things. And my agency felt very strong about the fact that because I'm a blogger, and I've been blogging now for seven years, there was a very bloggie aspect of my book that felt kind of like a voiceover, in fact, and so they encouraged me and challenged me to try to be, I'm going to say more, more earnest in some of the ways that I was approaching some of the material. We had so many conversations back and forth about the different ways that we should open the book. The different ways we should tell this story and bring this you know, memoir meets self help book to life, which isn't usually done, it's usually memoir or self help. So this was a whole new kind of beast and And it was hard. A lot of it was working with folks who are very literary in nature, who were encouraging me to write things in scene and write dialogue. And, you know, take the reader with you instead of what I usually do, which is writing and being like, Okay, so once I'm this guy, this guy, he was insane, or whatever. You know, I'm really animated with my writing, and I am very bloggie. And so we tried, and that's why the process took so long because I really tried and I would kick it back to them. And then they would kick it back to me and say, good,but now try this or now let's, you know, expand on this. And ultimately, at the end, from 2015 to 2017. What I ended up with were 30 drafts of a bunch of shit that no longer felt like me. I don't know. Yeah. And we took a look at it. And it was hysterical. Because I had, I had an editor from penguin who approached me directly, because she had read my blog. And she was like, are you writing a book? Or what? And I'm like, Yes, I swear I am. We're doing it behind the scenes over here. I promise we're going to send it to you ASAP. It took almost another year before we would send it to her. And when we finally did, because we wanted to approach them first. It's my dream publisher. Of course. The editor was like, what, what the hell is this? Where is Ash? Where did your voice go? Right there. This is not the same girl that I know. And it was this moment of truth where I was like, Okay, I humbled myself and we tried some things and I really stretched myself to become, you know, again, grow as a writer. But at the end of the day, I knew what I had to do. I talked to my literary agency. I was like, Look, we tried it this way. Now we're going to try it a new way. I'm going to go back to the drawing board. And I'm going to take a week. And I'm going to rewrite these three sample chapters. And I'm going to do it the way that I would have done it, and with my, you know, table of contents, and it's going to be crazy. And I'm not going to, you know, censor myself, there's going to be the word fuck all over it. It's going to be me. And we're going to resubmit it. And we did and that same week, I had a multiple six figure book deal. Leann 8:33 Wow, that's just so there's so many levels in this one. The I think the first question or the first thought I have is, Wow, she's been blogging since the dinosaurs. Yet still, she calls writing a book hard. And I think for the folks I know and and people I speak to who are trying to write a book and expect it to sound good in the first second. third, fourth, maybe even fifth draft, tend to get frustrated early. Why did you keep going? Ash Ambirge 9:08 Because I am a crazy person.You know, I knew I would, I would get it eventually. I think that's a conversation that I have oftentimes with entrepreneurs and freelancers, actually, because I have this girlfriend named Chelsea, who has a wedding planning company in Costa Rica. And a lot of that she actually does beautiful gourmet cakes as a part of that. So one day, she was saying to me, you know, sometimes clients come to her, and they want this extravagant cake that she's never made before. And so people say to her, Well, like, how are you comfortable taking on those orders if you've never done it before? And she's like, Oh, I mean, like I never done I've never done it before, but I know I'll figure it out. And we had to come We're about how that is a very entrepreneurial mindset of just trusting yourself to figure it out along the way. And because I'm an entrepreneur, I think that helps me so much with my book writing, because I knew that eventually I would figure it out. It just was going to be a matter of tinkering, and time and iteration. And so much of the work I do as a business owner is about iteration. So I just get that on a certain level. Leann 10:25 Iteration my favorite word! Ash Ambirge 10:27 Yeah. It's necessary Leann 10:31 Necessary evil, and everyone wants it to be done. And you know, they're trying to manage their internal anxiety about is this book and it good. Did it help that you had already written for an audience and found your voice and had at least some exposure with the outside world did you? Do you think that's helped any in the process? Ash Ambirge 10:53 I am sure I'm sure it has. I know that I have so many awesome emails from people around the world who have who have said to me consistently over the years, the thing I love about reading your writing is that reading your voice helps give me mine. And I think that's our job as writers in a way. I think that Gosh, if you are struggling finding your voice, you just I'm going to encourage you to go with the one that feels the most right to you. That feels like the most you do not hold back. Do not try to sound more professional or more literary Just do your thing. And I didn't think so I think that probably was very helpful. I can't say that. It wasn't. I knew that I had a lot of people who didn't already enjoy my writing and i i thought that it would produce a pretty cool product. Yeah. Leann 11:48 Very cool. I think this is a good segue into the first quote of you back at you, which I guess is going to be a theme for this podcast. So I'm looking at your book, the middle finger project, and she writes this book is intended to be a bad influence, but a bad influence in the b
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