On writing a book: Part 1

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

And really,

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.

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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?

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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.”

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*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

just

could not have gone better.

I adored her.

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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.

I agreed.

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…

Comments

  1. says

    I’m so happy I just came across your blog today. It was really inspiring to me and hit home in ways since writing a book is one of my very dear goals in life. Congratulations. It’s nice to see you follow your heart and you do not get swayed by any other opinions.

  2. says

    I am so, so, so excited for your book. You really do have such a unique voice and write beautifully. I discovered your blog back in April while sitting in a hotel room, and I read through almost all of it that evening. I have a feeling I’ll go through any book you write almost as quickly!

  3. says

    Andie, reading this makes me so excited for you. I’m incredibly happy that you got a book deal, and I can’t wait to read it cover to cover. You deserve the best. You deserve to write this book.

  4. Johnny says

    You go girl! Capture your dream and in so doing you will enhance ours. The beauty that comes from you inside far outreaches the beauty you show outside (and that is saying alot because you are so very beautiful on the outside!) You are a true inspiration and I can’t imagine anyone not liking your writing! :)

  5. says

    Andie, from the first time I read your blog I knew you had a book in you. Well done, and keep smiling. Let the hard work begin and don’t ever be daunted. I can’t wait!!

  6. says

    CONGRATULATIONS!

    What fantastic and exciting news. You are a great writer and I love reading everything you write- can’t wait for your book to come out!

  7. Jane Tierney says

    As I struggle mightily to stay within my Weight Watcher’s point range, I just know there’s got to be an easier way to lose 40 lbs. I have learned so much from your blog and I’m really excited about your book. Good writing! Jane

  8. says

    I can’t wait to read part two. I also can’t believe you not only have one book deal but two!! I’m so happy for you and SO excited to read more about your journey. I’m also looking forward to the Boston references :)

  9. says

    you’ve articulated and talked about so many things that have gone through my brain exactly! i mean, i feel like i could have written this post (minus the person contacting me about a book, of course! :).

    it is helping give me the strength to reach beyond what i thought is possible and go for it. thank you. and congratulations on the book! it is going to someone oh so deserving.

  10. says

    congratulations on the book deal! you articulated so many thoughts and words here that i too have felt myself – i feel like i could have written this post (minus the someone nudging me with a book deal part :). it is helping give me hope and inspiration that i too can push outside myself and reach for things i never thought possible.

    thank you – the book deal couldn’t have gone to a more deserving person!

  11. says

    I’ve only known your blog since this past spring and at one point this summer I mentioned you should write a book–little did I know that at that time you were well on your way to doing just that! I wish you the best and I cannot wait until your book is published, I’ll be buying a copy, count on it.

  12. says

    You know I haven’t found your blog too long ago, I am a recent reader, but you can count me in for buying your book, and at 5ft 95 pounds, it won’t be for any weight related issues! 😉 I love your writing, and you will definitely inspire anyone to reach any goal…

    congratulations, looking forward to reading part 2… and 3… and 4 😉

  13. says

    Of course they wanted you! I can’t imagine anyone spending 5 seconds on this page and not realizing what an extreme gift you have. All you need is someone to believe–even if it’s just you to start. After that, the sky’s the limit!

    Can’t wait for the book . . . and the rest of this series!

  14. Stacey says

    I know I don’t know you, and I only fairly recently stumbled upon your blog, but I am so incredibly happy for you! May all your dreams come true. Congratulations!

  15. Andrea says

    I am so excited that you are writing a book! For you, and for all the lucky people that will get to read it. I have been following your blog since october or november of last year, and through all your wonderful recipes, fabulously honest voice, and personal stories, you have helped me reshape my relationship with food! Thank goodness you were discovered by the world of publishing! Good luck!!

  16. says

    This was very inspiring and wonderful to read! Very happy for you and can’t wait to check out your book once it’s done! I also agree with the publisher’s opinion about you having a great voice and ditto these other comments about how truly inspiring you are. Keep these post coming!

  17. Stacie A says

    Andie, since our short email conversation, I have not missed an entry or recipe! I am excited everytime my iPhone dings with a new email from your blog! I think you are an amazing writer and I’m so excited for your book to be released! I will be the first in line to buy it! Your words speak volumes to me and bring tears to my eyes!!! I am so happy you followed your dreams! I’m sure your book will touch many more lives. Thanks again for sharing yourself with us!!!
    -Stacie. :)

  18. Manda says

    I recently (last week) stumbled upon your blog, I don’t normally read blogs, I googled black bean enchiladas looking for a good recipe, looked at yours first and then couldn’t leave. I instantly fell in love with your blog, your recipes, your photos, your humour. I’ve made 3 of your recipes so far and they all turned out great (super tasty & easy!) I just wanted to say I can’t wait to read your books & thank you for having such a great blog and sharing so many fun stories & recipes with us all! Much love

  19. says

    If you writing about getting a book is THIS fantastic, I can only imagine what reading your actual book – beautiful hardback in hand, thumbing pages with so much enthusiasm – will be like. Oh, what a happy day that will be.

  20. Debra says

    Holy $&*%! You’re truly inspirational! Thank you for allowing all of us to accompany you on Andie’s Excellent Literary Adventure. I know I’m not the only one that is giddy with anticipation awaiting your next blog and your first book. It’s kinda like being the relative of a loved one who is awaiting the birth of her first child! SO very,very exciting! Is there such a thing as a book shower?

  21. says

    I know I’ve commented to this point before, but I am on the weightless journey and have read the magazines, blogs, books… Your writing is a breath of fresh air. Your voice is real and feels like an old friend right away and definitely has helped bolster my efforts. Thank you and congratulations again!

  22. says

    thank you for sharing your book story! that’s so wonderful and you really deserve it. you really have a gift for creating great emotion in readers through your words. i laugh, i cry, i salivate. i can’t wait to read your book!

  23. Anne says

    I loved reading all of this. I cannot WAIT for the book(s) to come out!!!! I am sick that it is soooooooooo far away. So very happy for you and oh! so lucky us!!!!! Keep on keepin’ on!!! Love to read your words/sentences……………you really have a knack.

  24. says

    Hi Andie- I just finished reading the galley of IWMAA and wanted to tell you how much I liked it. While I have never been morbidly obese, I have been seriously chubby and have spent far too many hours hating my body, even though I am now close to two decades fit and stable at my weight. There were parts of the book that I related to directly, as well as parts that were personally foreign but nevertheless enlightening. It’s beautifully and propulsively written and I will recommend it to many. Thank you for your honesty and courage.

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