"The On-The-Nose, Po-Faced Transmasculine Memoir I Am Trying Not To Write": My Third Book Is Coming Out And I Had To Not-Write This Book First To Do It

In case you missed it, yesterday EW premiered the cover and an excerpt from my upcoming third book, Something That May Shock And Discredit You. I’m absolutely melted over the cover, which feels exactly as camp and histrionic and self-indulgent and arrested as I had hoped; all that funny Midwestern kid stuff was just a prelude to this meltdown.


The first step in writing a book is not writing the wrong book. The fight against writing Son of a Preacher Man: Becoming Daniel Mallory Ortberg, My Journey Trekking Through the Transformative Expedition of Emergence, Voyaging Shiftward Into Form—An Odyssey in Two Sexes: Pilgrimage to Ladhood must be renewed every day. I am tempted always to make some force or organization outside of myself responsible for my own discomfort, to retroactively apply consistency to my sense of self as a child, to wax poetic about something in order to cover up uncertainty, to overshare in great detail out of fear that the details will be dragged out of me if I don’t volunteer them first, and to lapse into cliché in order to get what I want as quickly as possible.

Chapter One: An Outdoor Picnic Signifying the Successful Reintegration into the Family Unit, and a Flashback

A description of the author, naked, at five, then again at twelve, then again at twenty, then again at thirty-two.

Chapter Two: A Mostly Forced Poetic Description of My Hormone Delivery System

This is my voice four seconds on T. This is my voice after saying, “This is my voice four seconds on T,” so probably another seven seconds on T. This is the molecular structure of testosterone. This is a rhapsodic list of side effects.

Chapter Three: My Male Privilege? My Male Privilege Seems So Tenuous

But I’m also scared about my male privilege!

Chapter Four: *Extreme Paula Cole Voice* Where Have All the Tomboys Gone?

I’m sorry I lured the tomboys away to Boy Island. I am heartily sorry for my fault, my fault, my grievous fault, and I promise to make a good-faith error at restitution, returning at least five tomboys or their cash equivalent.

Chapter Five: An Extensive Water-Based Metaphor

Trans people: always mesmerized, held, fascinated, and ultimately defeated by reflective surfaces. What’s that, you say? A mirror of some kind? Hold it up to me so I might gaze at it with longing and dissatisfaction

Chapter Six: Have You Heard Of Mermaids/Centaurs/Sirens/Sphinxes/Butterflies/Snakes/Werewolves/Any Other Cryptid? Well, You’re Going to Hear About Them Now.

They’re like me!!

Okay, if you want to read the rest of the excerpt, you have to go to EW, I can’t scoop their scoop just because I wrote the book. I can’t tell you how nervous and anxiety-wracked I’ve been, doing an essay collection that is not not memoir-adjacent – am I avoiding an interesting truth out of fear of seeming confessional, am I being confessional, am I writing something personal I will later regret saying, am I telling a joke rather than working out an idea, am I falling prey to any one of the thousand cliches that plague the transmasculine affect, so the idea of it finally leaving my hands is a tremendous relief. “She Used To Be Funny (Not That Funny, But): The Daniel Mallory Ortberg Story.” You can pre-order it here, if you’d like to save yourself a click come early 2020. I’m going to go eat some ice cubes.