Meghan Daum

Writing a Book About the Trump Era Devoured My Life

You try writing a current affairs book in our bonkers news environment without tossing out hundreds of pages

Meghan Daum
Published in
9 min readOct 16, 2019
An illustration of an open book featuring a woman, with hundreds of individual letters scattered across on and off the page
Illustration: Leonardo Santamaria

II spent the last three years writing a 221-page book. That comes out to roughly one page every five days, something around 300 words a week. Impressive!

Actually, it doesn’t include the hundreds of other pages that, bit by bit, ended up in the wastebasket, often just days after being completed. Nor does it include the hundreds of Post-its and pieces of scrap paper on which I scribbled random notes to myself at all hours of the day, or the countless memos I typed to myself on my iPhone because it was the only writing implement within reach when I lay in bed at night obsessing about my book.

Often I’d wake up to memos like this.

Has intersetionalty been turnd into fashion statment? If so, whats harm?

Is eveyone this rageful or just people on soc media? Is causation or correlcation?

Find Chekov quote (Tolstoy?) about writer solve problem

Buy toilet paper

When I teach writing, one of the rules I emphasize most strenuously to my students is “never try to write about an experience until it’s solidly in the past.” My book, which is about the current political climate and many of the surrounding culture wars, is nothing if not a violation of that rule. I started it — or at least started thinking seriously about it — in early 2016, well before Donald Trump was considered a serious presidential candidate. At the time, the big news stories included the Zika virus and a new phenomenon called “fake news.” Bernie Sanders was giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money but everyone assumed Clinton would be the Democratic nominee and then be elected president (probably in a landslide victory against someone like Jeb Bush).

At the time, I was interested in the ways feminism had become a product of social media and, from there, had split off into synergic if also competing brands. I was interested (and growing weary of) the ubiquity of the “badass,” an increasingly meaningless archetype that applied to everything from Katniss…



Meghan Daum
Writer for

Weekly blogger for Medium. Host of @TheUnspeakPod. Author of six books, including The Problem With Everything.