The Huffington Post | By Lori Leibovich
What does it take to get to the top — without losing your center? Our “Making It Work” series profiles successful, dynamic women who are standouts in their fields, peeling back the “hows” of their work and their life, taking away lessons we can all apply to our own.
When Anna Holmes launched Jezebel, an unapologetically political (though never earnest) news and culture site for women, in May 2007, she hoped it would be an “antidote to the superficiality and irrelevance of women’s media properties.” Not only would it cover a broader range of topics for a more diverse group of women, Holmes wanted to politicize her readers by covering issues like abortion rights, talking about feminism and calling out the fashion and media industries for making women feel bad about themselves.
Jezebel’s envelope-pushing, often hilarious content turned out to be exactly what a lot of women were yearning for, and six years later the site is one of the most beloved and influential websites for women. Now Holmes has released “The Book of Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things,” a coffee table book which encapsulates the subjects and spirit of the site and has the same biting wit — with lots of amazing graphics, photos and drawings thrown in.
The book was edited by Holmes, written by several Jezebel contributors and includes entries on everything from the Immaculate Conception to Angela Merkel to the Rhythm Method.
Holmes recently visited the HuffPost offices to talk about blogger burnout, why she doesn’t have a mentor and how Twitter is like a bar.
Why did you put together this book?
I was burnt out from running the site. Yet I wasn’t able to let go entirely. There’d been some discussion of extending the site’s brand to other mediums like books and TV. I like sitting and reading the dictionary so I got the idea to do a reference book, a sort of encyclopedia of the world according to the sensibilities of the site.
How did you decide which topics to cover? How did it all come together?
It was a lot of work for me and a lot of work for other people. I want to stress that because the people who worked on the book should get a lot of credit. A lot of it was just brainstorming.
Brainstorming with yourself or with the group?
With myself. Then I sent those files to people to ask what was missing. Then I sat down and read Webster’s dictionary. I didn’t want to miss any words. Then I would kind of just be living my life, think of something and make notes on my phone or a piece of paper and add them too. At some point, I had to stop adding things and start assigning entries. The book took about two and half years. If that was all that I had done, it would’ve been done quicker. But I was also freelancing and I didn’t want to have a crazy, burnout job because I had just come from that.