The recently retired Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) is writing a book about how to change the way Washington works — and her last week on the job gave her plenty of material.

"Isn't this amazing?" she told reporters earlier this month, as both chambers worked furiously on an eleventh-hour deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff.”

Her final few days as a lawmaker were a flurry of activity — unusual for a closing session of Congress, which typically doesn't meet after the holidays — as lawmakers tried to stave off the taxes hikes and spending cuts that would go into effect on Jan. 1.

"It speaks to the point I made back in February with my decision. Even I would have a hard time believing it would be this bad at this point," she said.

Snowe's decision earlier this year not to seek reelection shocked Washington. In her retirement announcement, she criticized Washington's "partisanship" and said she didn't think a fourth term would be "productive."

Her book will be published in 2013 by Weinstein Books, which is part of the media empire of Harvey Weinstein, a prominent Obama supporter.

"I am working on a book about how we change all this, how this used to work ... what we can do to change it so this does not become a permanent culture," she said.

Snowe's term ended last Thursday, when the newly elected lawmakers were sworn in. Angus King, an Independent, was elected to replace her and will caucus with Democrats.

Asked if she regrets leaving, Snowe said, "I feel sad about my decision for this reason — just when you think it couldn't get worse."

But, she added, "I'm going to miss being a part of this institution."