Monday, February 13, 2023

Book Nook - The S*** No One Tells You About Divorce

 After 12 years together, two children, 10 pets, and five properties, Dawn and her partner decided to call it quits. In the newest installment of her bestselling series, The Sh!t No One Tells You About Divorce”, Dawn tries to figure out what happened … and what happens next.

Leaning into the mess, Dawn helps you learn the art of embracing Netflix and cry, the healing power of profanity, the importance of assembling the right support squad, how to survive the sh!tshow of co-parenting, and much more. Joined by an insightful chorus of divorced friends, Dawn delivers a true-to-life and funnier-than-it-should-be guide to discovering the unexpected value in the wreckage. What if divorce isn’t just a loss — but an opportunity?

You can learn more in this interview.

What compelled you to write a book about your divorce?

Shortly after my divorce, when everything had gone ass over teakettle, a couple of my divorced friends reassured me that everything would be OK. They were a few years ahead of me on their divorce timelines and they knew from experience that things would eventually calm down. They’d tell me, “Just give it time, everything will be fine, you guys will be fine. Just give it time.” I’d respond with, “Yeah, that’s great. But what the hell am I supposed to do in the meantime?”

The “meantime” of divorce is brutal. It’s the time between the end of your marriage and the beginning of feeling normal in the new version of your life. I really wanted to write a book for people who are still going through their meantime. I wanted them to feel less alone during a really isolating time. I wanted to give them a place to come rage and laugh and cry with someone who understands that sometimes all of those emotions happen within a 20-minute span of time during divorce.

How was writing this book different from your other Sh!t No One Tells You books?

My other Sh!t books were about parenting. It turns out divorce is decidedly less entertaining than parenthood. This was by far the most difficult book I’ve ever written. I’ve never written, rewritten, edited, cut, and flat out froze on any other book in the last 15 years. I wanted to be as honest as possible while still being conscious of the fact that I was writing in permanent ink about quite a few other people whose lives were exploded along with mine. It was a delicate dance that I hope I pulled off.

How did you find humor is such a traditionally serious subject?

This book is all over the map when it comes to emotions. Some chapters are really serious and others are completely ridiculous. Initially, I didn’t know if this range of emotions was a good idea, but then I realized it actually aligns perfectly with the overall shitshow that is divorce. Some days you are eating take-out while embracing the Netflix, and Cry and other days you are acting like a giddy teenager while on your first date in 15 years. The experience has range, is my point.

A lot of the humor of divorce can be found in the absurdity of life after it has been exploded by the ending of a marriage. How do you figure out dating apps when you haven’t dated since dial-up? How do you fix the blasted sprinkler system in your backyard when that used to be your ex’s job? And what do you do when it’s time for dinner and you just realized your ex got the can opener in the split?

I like to lean into the absurdity and shake out the funny wherever I can. I balanced the book out with deep thoughts and introspections as well, but taking time to laugh is a really important part of making the meantime bearable.

What are some of the biggest challenges of co-parenting?

Establishing a co-parenting relationship with your ex is by far the most difficult part of navigating divorce with children. All the rest of the divorce stuff sorta fades away in time (and therapy), but if you have kids together, the two of you are going to have to figure out some way to do this project together for the long haul.

This can be mind-bogglingly frustrating in the early days of divorce because didn’t you just blow up your whole life to get away from this person? And now, lucky you, you get to deal with them every 48 hours at kid exchanges. It is simply the most fun.

What would you say are some good tips and tricks for parents navigating the new dynamic of co-parenting?

Divorce, to me, is a giving up of sorts. A standing up from the partnership table and announcing you are all done with any and all efforts to make this thing work. But then it turns out you still have to collaborate with this person on the most important group project: raising tiny humans. So you have to get back to the table. And the two of you have to figure out a way to do this project well for your kids, because they deserve a solid team effort.

My biggest piece of advice for successfully pulling off co-parenting after divorce is this: Start from today. Your old way of communicating and collaborating didn’t work out so well, so it’s time to change it up. And the only way you can successfully redefine how you are going to work together moving forward is if you mutually agree to leave the past in the past. Every interaction can’t be a contest to see who can pull the most of the past into the present day, or this project is going to go off the rails every 13 minutes. Start from today, over and over and over again. It won’t be easy, but it is the only way this project is going to work.

What do you hope that readers will take away from this book?

I hope this book can simply act as a soft place for people to land during a really shitty time. I hope the book can help them realize that there are better things waiting for them on the other side of their meantime. 

It can be really hard to imagine better days when the bad days fill up most of the calendar. So, I just want to provide a little glimmer of, “Keep going, you are going to be absolutely dazzled by the version of yourself that is waiting for you just up the road a bit.”

What are you working on next?

Right now, I’m working on my first fiction book, a middle grade novel. I’m writing it with a lot of help from my kids, and it is the most fun I’ve ever had writing a book. It has been really great to go from writing the emotionally taxing divorce book to tackling a fun fiction book about alien robots.

So many parts of me came back to life in the years after my divorce, and my creativity has been one of the most rewarding lights that has been turned back on. I’ve always wanted to tackle fiction, and my kids and I are having a blast collaborating on a story together.

DAWN DAIS is a freelance writer and designer. Her previous books, including “The Sh!t No One Tells You,” “The Sh!t No One Tells You About Pregnancy,” “The Sh!t No One Tells You About Toddlers,” “The Sh!t No One Tells You About Baby #2” and “The Nonrunner's Marathon Guide for Women” were published by Seal Press, have topped bestseller lists, and have been featured by countless TV and print media sources. Her uniquely sarcastic yet inspiring tone has entertained and guided an enthusiastic core of readers toward their various ridiculous parenting and athletic goals. Dawn's most recent book, “The Sh!t No One Tells You About Divorce” will be released in 2023.

Dawn lives in Roseville, California, with her two kids, one dog, four chickens (unfortunate quarantine decision), two cats and the occasional mouse brought into the home by said cats. You can find out more about Dawn and her books on her website

Follow Dawn on Social Media:

Etsy: @quotesbydawn | Facebook: @dawn.dais

Twitter: @bydawndais | Instagram: @dawndais

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