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Satya Doyle Byock: On Writing The Book Her Past Self Needed

Licensed psychotherapist and writer Satya Doyle Byock discusses the feeling of urgency that came with writing her new book, Quarterlife.

Satya Doyle Byock is a licensed psychotherapist, writer, and the director of The Salome Institute of Jungian Studies. Her work is informed by analytical psychology, history, and social justice advocacy. She lives in Portland.

Satya Doyle Byock: On Writing The Book Her Past Self Needed

Satya Doyle Byock

In this post, Satya discusses the feeling of urgency that came with writing her new book, Quarterlife, what she hopes readers get from the experience, and more!

Name: Satya Doyle Byock
Book title: Quarterlife
Publisher: Berkley
Release date: July 26, 2022
Genre/category: Psychology/Personal Growth
Elevator pitch for the book: An innovative psychotherapist tackles the overlooked stage of Quarterlife—the years between adolescence and midlife—and provides a guide to navigate it and thrive.

Satya Doyle Byock: On Writing The Book Her Past Self Needed

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What prompted you to write this book?

When I was in my early 20s, I was desperate for a book that could help me earnestly understand the journey of life without a singular religious framework or a modern spiritual movement. That need for a book continued when I became a psychotherapist for people in their 20s and early 30s and couldn’t find accessible resources that spoke to their issues soulfully. Most of those books were intended for midlife audiences. In reality, the prompt to write this book felt more like a demand, a pressing urgency that I carried around with me for over a decade.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?

I’d say that Quarterlife took about 15 years to come to fruition, from idea to publication. The impetus for the book initially led me to graduate school where I engaged in a great deal of research and wrote my Master’s thesis on these themes. From there, I worked on articles regularly, constantly working through my ideas and trying to place small pieces here and there for publication. I always had a book in mind but knew that there was a lot of work required before I’d be able write the book I envisioned.

The book that I ultimately sold to Random House was on proposal and transformed a great deal in the writing and editing process, somehow coming full circle back to the structure of my Master’s thesis, which I’d initially felt was too abstract and struggled to explain. I’m comforted to feel that the book being published is the book I’d intended all along. It took much longer than I’d hoped, but I have always felt that the book was on its own timeline, and I’ve tried to follow that lead.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

As this is my first book, there were many surprises and learning moments in the publishing process, from the contract all the way through to cover design and marketing! I’ve learned to ask questions and am grateful that everyone I have worked with has been very helpful in clarifying things I didn’t know I didn’t know.

Satya Doyle Byock: On Writing The Book Her Past Self Needed

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

After so many years of thinking about this book and delving into research, once I got to writing the book, I was surprised by the degree to which the abundance of other people’s words was getting in my way. I hadn’t realized how much I was relying on the work of other writers while holding back my own ideas. My editor worked with me a great deal to cull my research and allow my own theories and perspective to shape the book.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I can only hope that my book offers some orientation to those Quarterlife readers who are feeling lost, and some direction on how to create their truest lives. I’d love for it to support their parents, clinicians, and educators too. (I also have a long laundry list of policy changes that I’d hope an emphasis on this stage of life could kick-start, but that’s for another time.)

If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?

I’m going to keep this simple because my experience of being a writer—from the dogged and long-term solitariness to the scary process of editing and submissions—has primarily involved this: Hang in there and write, write, write.

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