What a Day in the Life of an Author + Historian Looks Like
If your TBR list is never ending, there isn’t an indie bookstore you don’t want to visit and you’ll snap up any app that’ll help you track your fave reads, you might just be a book nerd. We’re reveling in all things literary by taking a peek at another fellow book nerd’s day. Meet Alexis Coe, writer and debut author of the highly addictive nonfiction book, Alice + Freda Forever. From hanging with her adorable pup to writing for Lena Dunham’s “Lenny” newsletter, her day is packed full of brainstorming, creativity and writerly musings.
A Day in the Life of Alexis Coe
5am: I’m an early riser, but this is about an hour earlier than I’d like. It’s that kind of week. I do three sets of 20 pushups to be sure I’m fully awake and get to work while the world is still quiet. I take a quick look at my email, start an essay on gendered linguistics for Lena Dunham and Jennifer Kronner’s newsletter, Lenny, and then read a relatively short scholarly article about a Mexican general’s cork leg for my second book.
8:30am: I quickly fry and eat an egg on avocado toast, which wakes up my 10-pound dog, Rosie. The first time I brought her home as a puppy, she immediately took a giant dump on the floor, pranced over to where I was sitting mouth agape and curled up on my lap. Six years later, she’s still my boss. Rosie has a lot to smell on our morning walk, which is when I scroll through Twitter, Instagram and Beme.
9:30am: By the time my friend E. knocks on the door, I’ve showered and dressed for our lunch meeting. We get to work on our secret collaboration, which is so much fun that we lose track of time.
11:40am: We have just 20 minutes to get to Midtown from Brooklyn. On the way over I realize I should talk to Deborah Tannen, who wrote You Just Don’t Understand, for the Lenny essay. The Q train spends a couple of minutes above ground on the Manhattan Bridge, during which I dash off a brief email to her. E. spends the time downloading the ten-page proposal we forgot in our haste.
1:45pm: “You’re a pitching machine,” E. exclaims when we emerge, which surprises me. I had thought the meeting went well because he’s a sharp, funny entertainer. There’s a harsh critic who lives inside my head, but outside of it, I apparently kept the focus on our project. I need to go easier on myself. We dissect every minute detail of the meeting for the next 20 blocks before parting ways.
2:00pm: I have some time before a meeting in Union Square, so I park myself in a cafe with a cup of coffee and a tasty looking, but ultimately disappointing pumpkin cookie, and turn my attention to emails. I try to keep my inbox under 100, but I’m at 470. Dr. Tannen offers times for a phone interview. I answer logistical questions about an upcoming trip to Memphis, where I’m meeting Jennifer Kent, the screenwriter and director who is adapting my book. I agree to a breakfast meeting with a young female entrepreneur who needs to know about a women’s social movement, though I’m not sure I have enough time for a lengthy consulting job. There are a few mean emails about an op-ed I wrote last week for the New York Times. Turns out there are a lot of Joseph McCarthy apologists.
4:00pm: I meet with editors at a magazine. They sent me on a seven-day adventure last summer, and I’m relieved to know they found my essay really entertaining — but about 2,000 words too long.
5:00pm: On the train ride back, I listen to NPR’s Fresh Air With Terry Gross. It’s a dream episode with Gloria Steinem, Carrie Brownstein and a book review of Stacy Schiff’s The Witches. Back in Brooklyn, Rosie acts like I’ve been gone for 10,000 years instead of five or so hours. We take a walk and I use her many stops to text friends.
6:30pm: I respond to emails before going for a quick run. I used to hate running, but we made peace in September. The dark, crisp air reminds me of a Keats poem. I remember the first stanza and mumble to myself, “I stood tip-toe upon a little hill/The air was cooling, and so very still” while the Weeknd blasts in my ears. They make for odd bedfellows. Still, I must figure out who I would marry. Keats is a sad, dead virgin, whereas The Weeknd is alive and has Jean-Michel Basquiat hair.
7:30pm: I play tug of war with Rosie. One of her stuffed Octopus’ legs rips a little in the fray, and she goes to town. It’s a crime scene. I shower, where the day finally wears on me. I’m exhausted, but I still spend a half an hour looking at Moby-Dick. I’m reading it for the first time in a decade at the Whitney Museum, and I’ve definitely forgotten how to pronounce a lot of the words. Queequeg. Concupiscent. Har-poon-EAR.
8:45pm: “Should I order Thai food?” asks my boyfriend after earnestly complimenting my sweatpants. At that moment, those words are as beautiful as any Keats penned. I succumb to what I usually actively resist: dinner in front of the TV. I haven’t had one since 2003. I hated constantly seeing Rumsfeld’s stupid face and declared I wouldn’t own one until there was meaningful discourse on the national stage… so twelve years later, I still don’t own one. He has two. Two!
11:30pm: I’ve fallen asleep on the couch. I’m awoken by the BF taking Rosie out for a walk. “You’re okay,” I mumble as I make my way to bed. I fall back asleep instantly. I hardly ever set an alarm. I know I’ll wake up after I’ve gotten enough sleep to function. Life is just too exciting to sleep through.
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(Photos via @alexis_coe)