This blog was featured on 01/18/2018
Why I Write
Contributor
Written by
Amanda Stauffer
January 2018
Contributor
Written by
Amanda Stauffer
January 2018

Match Made in Manhattan began as a list of men’s names scrawled on the back of a cocktail napkin. I was at drinks with friends, relating the details of my latest Match.com dates. I’d been dumped before the first kiss, donned full HAZMAT gear on a third date, and been set up with another date’s mom. And somehow I’d wound up with a dating history that—mapped out on that fateful napkin—formed a quirky yet gripping romantic narrative. Once I got home from the bar, I stayed up drafting a very robust (80-page!) outline until 10 a.m.

In the coming weeks, I couldn’t decide if it had been the intoxication of the idea, the alcohol, or my friends’ encouragement that had propelled me to so thoroughly and avidly outline “my dating book,” so I shelved the draft, particularly since I was working a full-time job and part-time job and had little time to write in earnest. But late at night, or sometimes during lunch breaks, I’d find myself re-opening the Word file to insert new details and ideas, overlay arcs and themes, or delete irrelevant chapters.

To me, Alison’s was a story that hadn’t been told but needed to be. For reasons I’ve never understood, online dating was viewed as somewhat taboo—we all had married friends and co-workers who “met at the Post Office,” where “Post Office” was really code for “JDate” or “eHarmony.” But in my view, Match.com and online dating in general were the best, most useful outcomes of the Internet: not just tools for finding romance, but for making friends and exposing yourself to new perspectives and ideas in this fast-paced, tech-driven world.

The lion’s share of dating-centric novels focus on a single relationship or love triangle, often equating “success” with receipt of a diamond ring. What I wanted to communicate in my book was that myriad first dates that go nowhere with random men don’t have to be terrible. They can be fun! When you focus on the process, not the results, dating can be super instructive, interesting, and invigorating.

So rather than dwell on the frustrations that can come out of trying to find your Match, I wrote a book underscoring the diversity and colorfulness of the men that populate New York City, and all that they can teach you if you’re open to achieving a different kind of success. One of the most poignant themes of Match Made in Manhattan is that if you’ve learned even one thing from your date—be it about a job you never knew existed, a neighborhood you've never visited, or a new outlook—then you’re ultimately emerging net positive.

The book I’m currently working on is a different story spurred by a very different motivation, though told in a similar narrative voice. It’s character-driven women’s fiction that focuses on the ebbs and flows of female friendship, and on how two seemingly incompatible people can develop a profound and symbiotic relationship, if one riddled with frustration, impatience, and distance. Following these women from their teenage years through adulthood and motherhood, in settings that transport the reader from the northeast to Napa to Paris to Hawaii, the book examines how family upbringing, wealth, and failure can alternately bolster and undermine sisterhood—and how alternately easy and hard it can be to forgive and forget. I’m making it sound totally serious and depressing, but it has large sections of levity and vibrancy thanks to the colorful characters. It would be kind of like seeing the world through Alison’s eyes again, but with her growth and development resulting from this pivotal friendship rather than from her experiences with her online suitors.

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Comments
  • Alissa Johnson Writing

    Thanks for sharing your story! I love that you took that moment of inspiration and ran with it!