During my loss of 135lbs and then years into maintenance, I *granted myself a doctorate in nutrition, in dieting memoir and self help. I read every book, spent four dollars on every magazine, and joined every group that promised they’d support me. I met fascinating people and heard stories and takes on life and loss that really changed me. They bettered me. But still, I wanted something more dynamic.
*you can have one, too.
In February 2010, the week of Valentine’s Day, after three fantastic years in film, I left Hollywood and started writing a blog. My first unemployment check arriving in sync with my first blog comment.
I wanted the blog to be the place I could explain a life in food and through food. I had been big, small, and I knew that the only way to tell is to show. So I did.
I moved from Boston to Seattle without a job or a plan or even a good-looking suitcase.
My mum was disappointed. ‘How can you leave film? Andrea, I think you’re making a mistake.’
My dad was concerned. ‘Sweetheart, you do whatever you want to do. But what’s a blog? And, seriously, who will want to read it?’
I had no answers for them.
I just wrote.
I promised them, “It might not mean a damn thing to anyone. But I really want to do it, and that’s enough. I guess what I’m saying is, I’m willing to risk it.”
I decided I didn’t ever want to prescribe readers a meal plan, or a set of rules to live by.
Instead I asked them to stay for dinner.
I showed them my breakfast bowl, my salad at lunch, and my dinner, and I thought- ‘Well, I’m making it anyway, eating it anyway…might as well photograph it.’
I loved cooking and eating enough to snap an obscene number of photos of anything and everything edible in my home. I found something stylish, something sexy in every picture. I posted them for the world to see.
I knew I had things to say about gaining and losing and staying still that others might want to hear. And I knew that those things I’d say would not always make sense, not always be valuable to everyone at every point. But I also knew that, at the very least, putting my feelings on paper would be a catharsis of the greatest dimension. A full and complete and beautiful reconciliation with all that I’ve been and all that I am now.
And so I blogged. A year and four months of journaling food and reflections on fat and thin.
that was enough. I got comments and emails that made me glow from the inside out. The conversation, the staying for dinner, it made me the happiest I’ve ever been. I met all of you and you made my life fuller.
On June 5th 2011, a longtime reader of mine, someone I’d come to recognize and love through comments and brief emails, sent me a note:
“Andie, I am an assistant book buyer at a big corporation and, well, I’ve seen lots of bloggers getting book deals lately. I know you have a book in you and I would love nothing more than to read it. Would you mind if I sent the link to your blog to some publishers I know? I just want to share you with them.”
Would I mind?
Could I mind?
I replied in fourteen seconds. I told her, in prettier, more articulate words: “I am so flattered. I would love that.”
On June 8th, I woke up to an email from the senior editor and vice president at Simon & Schuster.
“Andie, a colleague passed your blog along to me. I really like your voice. Have you any interest in writing a book? I’d love to discuss it with you.”
I replied in twelve seconds. I told her, in prettier, more articulate words: “Holy* $&*%, YES! I am very interested. I’d love to speak with you further.”
*I left out the holy part.
She wrote back in a matter of seconds, and within ten minutes, my phone rang and the two of us began what would be an hour-long conversation that
could not have gone better.
I adored her.
The thing is,
I love writing. Picking words, designing language, and making my verbs as active as they can be. But I love speaking to someone, anyone, a world more. There’s something disarming about a conversation. There’s vulnerability and context and tone and I, well I just live and breathe for that.
We spoke, almost so comfortably that I felt uncomfortable. I did not know that it was essentially an interview. The greenness of me couldn’t have known that this conversation would decide whether or not the girl who writes that ‘stay for dinner’ blog has a book in her. This editor was feeling me out. She knew, I’m sure, that lots of writers work well with words on a page, but she wondered, ‘can that passion be palpable in real-time? Is there a story in you that’s unique? A confidence in vision and voice?’
And I guess, the good news is,
I have a story. I believe it will be different and though probably manic and depressive all at once, it might, I hope, mean something to anyone else. Because when I lost the weight six years ago, I needed what I’m about to write in this book, and after I searched and searched and searched for the words, the feelings that would make me feel sane and soothed, I found myself lonely. Nothing resonated like I needed it to. No one said it just right. Not in a voice I could hear, anyhow.
But back to the conversation.
She asked if I had a literary agent, and when I said no, I did not, she recommended I get one. She told me an agent was not essential, but they’d be extremely helpful to me in reading through contracts and legal documents and securing the best book deal. They’d negotiate best on my behalf.
We hung up as she said,
“Andie, write a proposal. Roughly thirty pages- all that you’d want your book to be. Get it to me… I think you have something.”
I called my mother, just after I squealed for a solid thirteen minutes. Smile lines became grooved crescents framing my mouth.
I did not have a deal. I did not have anything more substantial than a vote of confidence. A nudge from someone whose gentle push could move my whole life.
Part 2 to come…