Middle Tennessee State University alumna and author of upcoming book “No Choice: The Destruction of Roe v. Wade and the Fight to Protect a Fundamental American Right,” spoke to a group of MTSU students.
Former MTSU Sidelines editor-in-chief and current Reckon News reporter Becca Andrews discussed the challenges of writing a book on abortion in the southern United States, all in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The idea for her book came about after an article she wrote in 2017 for Mother Jones about a student in Mississippi attempting to receive abortion care. After publishing Andrews’ article, her editor asked if she had thought about writing a book, and development of a larger narrative began.
After Politico leaked the Supreme Court draft majority opinion for the Dobbs ruling, Andrews’ plans changed drastically.
“I thought I had this nice, lovely, two-month revision period where I was going to print out all the pages and go to a coffee shop with a red pen and get really granular with the prose,” but that is not how things worked out.
The night of the leak, Andrews reported the breaking news for Mother Jones.
“So it was a late night, and then early the next morning, I get a call from my editor, and she’s like, ‘Hey, so I know that your book is scheduled for a late January release. We want to pump it up to October so it hits (before midterm elections).’”
Andrews had just finished the draft. Instead of sitting down and getting “really granular with the prose,” like she planned, she had to go back through the manuscript and make edits for a post-Roe world. The whole process was expedited.
“I don’t think I want to do this in two years ever again. It sounds like a lot of time, but when you’re working full time at the same time, it’s a lot,” Andrews said.
Andrews said she believes her love for storytelling and knack for writing comes from being a life-long reader. When she was young, still at an age where she was being read aloud to, her mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She memorized the stories her mother would read to her and read them back to her.
The new author credited her subsequent success to her work at MTSU Sidelines and the connections she made in school.
“If you want a career in journalism, write for your student newspaper,” Andrews said. “It gave me the space to learn on my feet.”
Right now, the world is “unstable and chaotic and beautiful and messy, and (the next generation of journalists) get to make meaning of all the chaos,” Andrews said.
Andrews handed out advanced copies of her book to the class and proceeded to sign her first copy, bringing her career full circle.
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