ESSENCE.COM: Your article really hit a nerve. Your thoughts?
TRACY MCMILLAN: Obviously I taped into something that a lot of people think and feel. Everyone knows a woman who wants to be married and has no idea why she isn’t, and you’re saying to yourself, “I know why!” It’s painful when you’re on one side of the river and your friends haven’t made it over to the other side of the river.
ESSENCE.COM: What compelled you to want to turn the article into a book?
MCMILLAN: It’s almost as if it was the same thing that compelled me to write the article in the first place. I wrote this piece, really not thinking about a book or anything like that. I was asked to write a comic essay and I thought, what should I write about? They say, write what you know. Then I thought, well, hey, I’ve been married three times and I have a lot of girlfriends who can’t figure out what they’re doing wrong in the area of relationships. So I wrote this provocative, funny, sort of bullet point list of what I see chicks are doing wrong. I called it “Why You’re Not Married.” Yes, I did it in the most provocative and funny way possible, but that’s because I’m a television writer and basically I’m here to entertain. But, I’m also here to tell the truth because that’s the funniest thing of all. And, it just so happens, I had no idea that it was going to go viral. I had no idea 2 million people thought this would be worth passing around.
ESSENCE.COM: Did you read the comments? Some of them were pretty rough.
MCMILLAN: I paid almost no attention to the comments. I see the comments, but I don’t think that they represent what the majority of people think and feel. I also realize that in the world of the Internet, it’s very easy to register a complaint. You don’t have to go anywhere; you don’t have to show your face. You don’t have to own it. Definitely people disagreed. But, I think that the number of people who disagree is actually far smaller than the number of people who agree. It’s just that they’re a much noisier group. Out of 2 million views I got just two pieces of hate mail. I really just wanted to start a conversation and have an ongoing conversation. This book could just as easily be called, “Why You’re Not In a Long Term Committed Relationship.” I think I really walk a fine line between satire, absurdism, the truth and heart. The truth is, if you read the whole piece, I have a lot of love. I am one of these women. It’s not like I’m talking about someone else.
ESSENCE.COM: A lot of single women felt you just weren’t describing them. Do you agree with that?
MCMILLAN: I was surprised about how many married women were like, “Wow. I need this.” What I discovered by writing the book is that you’re never done being a bitch. You’re never done being selfish. That’s like any Tuesday. I have to work on being a loving person, and be a person who is extending love in my relationships. The most interesting thing to me was how many people readily admitted that this is stuff they need to work on. And for the women who felt that none of this stuff applies to them, I’m like, really? They’re just delusional. Who is not shallow sometimes? Who is not a liar sometimes? That’s where the self-love has to come in.
Photo: Alison Dyer