Margo Price burst onto the country music scene in 2016 with her debut album, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, which drew rave reviews from critics. Two more studio albums—and a 2019 Grammy nomination for best new artist—would follow, earning her a reputation as a razor-sharp singer/songwriter with a voice that calls to mind country legends like Loretta Lynn.

But her success was anything but overnight. In her new memoir, Maybe We’ll Make It (Univ. of Texas, Oct. 4), Price tells the story of her early days, from a girl growing up in Aledo, Illinois, to her experiences as a young woman trying to make it in Nashville, working a series of bad jobs and playing gigs wherever she could find them. Price discussed her memoir, which a critic for Kirkus calls “a brutally honest and at times heart-wrenching account of one musician’s struggle to make it in a challenging industry,” via Zoom from her home near Nashville. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

What made you initially decide to write a memoir?

I’ve always just really loved writing, and I’ve had several other attempts at writing books, but I never could complete any of them. But when I found myself pregnant with my daughter in 2018, I didn’t know what to do with my time. I was really missing working and playing shows, and so I decided to start writing. I owe a lot to Patti Smith and her book, Just Kids. I’ve read hundreds of music memoirs in my life, but hers was the one that made me think, I really would like to attempt this. I loved that she wrote about the years that she struggled, and I thought that if I don’t write down everything that happened to me over that decade, I’m just going to forget it all. So that was what spurred it.

Were you still working on the memoir when the pandemic hit in 2020?

I was, yeah. I worked on it for quite a long time. When I initially turned it in, I didn’t really know how long it was, because I’d never written a book. I didn’t know about font size and all that. I thought it was about 250 pages or something. And then they told me that it was more like 500 pages, and I still did not have an ending. There were no chapters; it was just this free form, and a lot of the time just jumped around. So I really am very grateful to my editors for helping me pull that together.

That first year of the pandemic was rough for everybody, but especially you. Your husband [musician Jeremy Ivey] became sick with Covid-19 and you lost one of your heroes, John Prine. And obviously your memoir deals with some painful memories. Was writing the book more painful because of all of that, or did you find it to be therapeutic at all?

It was definitely a form of therapy, going through all of that and reconciling things and being honest about them. Some of my close friends know a lot of what’s in the book, but my family is going to be pretty surprised by a lot of it. After I finished it, I thought, This was a total mistake. I don’t know if I can wear my heart on my sleeve like this. And I just started thinking about how the internet is and how people say things to me on there that are hurtful already. But ultimately, I’m stronger than that. And I know that it’s going to resonate with people.

The book is so radically honest, and you write with candor about struggles with eating disorders and substance use.

We live in a society that doesn’t always encourage people to talk about what they’re struggling with. I grew up in a time and in a place and in a household where we didn’t talk about the things that we were struggling with. We just needed to put on a happy face and project this image. And especially the business I’m in, there’s a lot of expectations that women are supposed to live up to, and it’s really toxic. I’ve really, really struggled with my self-image—like really, really, really struggled with it. And now I’m approaching 40, and I just don’t want to live my life like that anymore.

Can you talk about how you arrived at the title of the book? There’s such a sense of hope in it but also a kind of wry humor.

I went on a lot of bad tours when I was young, but the very first one that we ever went on was one that I fabricated from creating this fake booking agent and fake email address. And we went on this crazy tour, and we were traveling west and seeking our fortune and the American dream. I’d thought maybe if we head out to California and go play all these shows that we’ll get discovered. So that was kind of the idea for this documentary that we were making. We were just filming the whole thing with a video camera on VHS, and it was called Maybe We’ll Make It. And that title kept sticking with me through life, through everything that I was going through.

Writing music and writing prose are, I would imagine, hugely different experiences. But did you find while writing this book that there were any similarities between the two writing processes?

The routine of it and just getting in the flow is kind of the same. You just get in this mindset and everything else around you kind of fades away, and you just go to this place in your head. I started writing another book when I was done, just because I missed it so much. But then I had to go back to writing songs, and I thought it was kind of like Joni Mitchell says with rotating the crop: She would paint and then she would write songs and then she would paint and then she would write songs. But yeah, during that time, it was just like every moment that I could steal away, I was dreaming about it and writing down things. I’d go on a hike in the morning and write down little vignettes, little conversations, or think about how I would do justice to a character, to somebody in my past.

You mentioned that you’ve read a lot of music memoirs. Are there any that stand out in your mind as being formative to you as a writer and musician?

Carrie Brownstein’s Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl. Brandi Carlile’s book [Broken Horses] was really well done. I liked Kim Gordon’s Girl in a Band and obviously Chronicles by Bob Dylan. Willie Nelson’s It’s a Long Story is a classic. George Jones’ book [I Lived To Tell It All] is quite the wild ride. And Jeff Tweedy’s books [Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back) and How To Write One Song] are absolutely brilliant. I really soak in the memoirs and especially when I’m trying to write a certain kind of music, then I’m definitely reading a certain kind of book.

Michael Schaub, a journalist and regular contributor to NPR, lives near Austin, Texas.