ahobbitishmorigirl said: Where did you find that amazing cat blanket?
I bartered a sack of glitter carrots to a hungry unicorn.
NOTE: This is a blog from 2012 that I am re-posting after being reminded of it in a discussion, which is why you may see some old cultural references. And seeing as how I have more followers than I did two years ago, maybe it will reach more people who could stand to hear it:
About four years ago, before the days of Rhine and Wither World, before I had a social media platform and when I was just a bright-eyed dreamer with a hard drive full of unmarketable manuscripts, I received a phone call. That phone call was an offer of representation from an agent. And at the end of that phone call, my shiny new agent asked if I had a website. I didn’t. She asked me to start one. And so, this blog was born.
And from that very first day, before I had a book deal or any readers, I knew there were certain topics that I’d never blog about. Politics was one of them. Body image was another. The reason I stay away from those types of posts is because I don’t have much faith in my own finesse. There are other bloggers who introduce these topics in a way that is fabulous and thorough. Whereas I ramble a lot, give books away, and show you pictures of how ugly my bathroom was before I exorcised the pink from it.
Today I’m breaking my own restraint to blog about this topic. Maybe it’s fitting, in light of the whole SOPA censorship debacle. Maybe now is the perfect time to say the sorts of things I wouldn’t normally say.
The topic is body image. It’s snowing today, and I thought I’d curl up on the couch and indulge in a little TV before diving into my line edits for Book 3. I flipped through the DVR lineup and decided to watch the latest episode of The Biggest Loser. I was only half paying attention, clicking around on the internet as I usually do, when I heard one of the contestants say that she had dreams of being a writer. She went on to say, “How are you gonna go into these publishing houses and be like ‘Hey, you wanna publish my book’ when you’re the fat girl?”
This ripped my attention from the computer screen. I hit rewind, sure I misheard her. I played it back three times, not just astounded but horrified by what was happening on my television. Was this aspiring writer really citing her weight as the reason she felt a publishing house wouldn’t take her seriously?
We can’t have this. This is not okay.
The most devastating part of this sentiment is that, in addition to this young woman believing her weight is congruent with her success as an author, millions of viewers nationwide have just heard it. How many of those millions are writers? How many are going to feel that they cannot take a step towards their dreams until they’ve lost a few pounds?
Actually, scratch that. How many of those millions have dreams they now fear can’t be attained because of their weight?
If I’m going to go into full disclosure here, my weight is something I have been conscious of for most of my life. It’s something I struggled with in my teens and something I struggle with now. I gained a bunch of weight after selling Wither, between the pre-publication stress and having a job that required movement only from the wrists to the fingertips. I’ve since lost all of that weight, and I know that it is as emotionally taxing as it is physical. And I’m not alone; I can’t count on both hands the conversations I’ve had with friends over the years about calories in vs. calories out, and abdominal crunches and weight watchers points and diet soda. It’s a significant part of my life. And it has nothing to do with my ability to dream or my determination or my worth as a person. It took me years and years to understand this. I used to think of myself as a work in progress. I used to think that I would have a good life when I lost weight. I’m so thankful that I learned the difference between having a goal and having self worth. My wish is for everyone to learn that difference, because it’s a liberating day when you do.
For this Biggest Loser contestant, her weight is something about herself that she would like to change. I can understand that, because my weight is something I am perpetually working to change. And for someone else, it’s another issue entirely. Maybe you think you’re too timid, or too rude, or too tall, or you think you have two mismatched ears—whatever it is. There is nothing wrong with wanting to change the things we don’t like about ourselves; in fact it can boost our self-esteem to know we’re doing something healthy for ourselves. But it becomes a serious problem when we think we are substandard until that change is made. If you’re a writer, write. Write because it’s your dream and because it’s what you love. Write because you deserve to have dreams and it is your right to work for them.
There’s no scale when you step through the door of a publishing house. I can tell you firsthand that there’s just a security guard and an elevator.
You have to believe that you are good enough right now, today, because losing weight or getting an earlobe tuck or dyeing your hair isn’t going to do that. When you look in the mirror, it’s dangerous to dream of The Flawless You. What you should see is your face, your shoulders. You should acknowledge the freckles you may not like or the hair that flips the wrong way. You should know that your tools and your weapons and your mind are all staring back at you. You should be in awe of the power you possess over your own destiny. You aren’t substandard. You are amazing. The person staring back at you in the mirror is the person who is going to go out there and grab those dreams by the freaking balls.
did you ever know someone that you wished would fulfill a life dream of becoming an astronaut just so they wouldn’t be on the planet as you anymore?
I was talking to a volunteer at the book drive about how great THE NIGHT CIRCUS is, and I convinced her to buy it. Another lady overheard us talking about it and asked if there were any more copies. I happened to know where one was. What up, hand selling books.
nimiekie said: Since you don't do book signings or anything like that have you ever thought about doing a Reddit IAmA? Just to answer questions for your fans and what not?
Probably not, mostly because I am not a fan of Reddit’s AMA forum. But I respond to anything I’m asked here, and people don’t need an account to post anonymously.
Anonymous said: So I confessed to a friend that I have anxiety, and tried to explain to her what it was like and she responded by telling me I was hiding behind a diagnosis and needed to get over it. I'm so devastated. I know she's wrong. You've always been a source of comfort to me with your candid discussions about anxiety. I wanted to know if you have any advice on how to deal with this? Also, you're the best and thank you for everything you do. :)
Most of my closest friends don’t have anxiety, but it’s my opinion that you don’t need to have everything in common with your friends. All you need are friends that are willing to listen, and to be a friend that is willing to listen. All you can do is talk about it and try to explain. If your friend accuses you of “hiding behind a diagnosis” that friend is invalidating you on every level. You don’t need to prove your level of suffering to this friend, or to anyone. It would be exhausting and frustrating to try. There are so many people out there who won’t judge and won’t treat you as though your life struggle is an imaginary friend you’re too old to keep around; my advice would be to seek out more people like that.
Anonymous said: Hi! I've been struggling for the past few months with writing, because I tend to come up with an idea, get really excited for it, then drop it a couple chapters in. I'm not sure why... I know this is something other writers struggle with, and the answer seems to typically be to just make yourself put the work in on that idea until the first draft is finished. But when I sit down and try to put the work in, it's like I just feel empty. I really want to overcome this, so I appreciate any advice.
Getting excited about new ideas is easy. Writing is hard. That’s about the size of it. By the time the candy coating of whimsy and fantasy melts down, you will find that you are faced with hard work. This will happen with every story you write forever, so you have to continue on past the excitement of the new idea and find the story you want to stick with through the ups and downs. If you’re waiting for a book that’s a blast to write from beginning to end, it doesn’t exist.
Anonymous said: Do you remember where you were on 9/11?
Yep, I was in gym class. We had really nice weather, so the coach had us play tennis outside. I think that was my first class of the day; I’d always hated gym class, but I remember that actually being a nice class, because I got to sit outside talking to my friend while we waited for our turn in the lineup.
After that, while we were heading into the locker rooms, the coach from the other class told me that someone flew a plane into the world trade center. I assumed she meant like a privately owned plane and that the pilot lost control or got lost or something. I really didn’t think too much of it yet.
When I got to my next class, everyone was standing around watching the news, and the second tower had already been hit by then. I think we were all just surprised because we didn’t know where this was coming from or what would be next. So standing there I didn’t really know what to think or how to react. I was watching all of these white bits of dust flying out from the windows, and then I realized that it wasn’t dust but people jumping and falling. That’s when it ceased to matter to me where this was happening, because it felt like it was happening to everyone everywhere.
We ended up getting dismissed from school around that time, and normally if there was an early dismissal due to any other unexpected cause, the bus would be rowdy. But I don’t think anyone talked the whole ride home.
I was so rattled by the whole thing that I spent the next week watching nothing but the disney channel, even though I hadn’t watched it for years and there were no shows I cared about, simply because it was the only channel I could find that wasn’t covering it 24/7.
Anonymous said: This is likely the 5th time editing my MS and I think I've fallen out of love with it? What would you suggest? Push through and fall in love again when it shines or shelf it until my heart is in the game?
If your heart isn’t in it, it’s going to show. If you don’t want to work on it, it will bleed into the story and you’re going to create something that nobody would want to read. If the love is gone, take the experience you’ve gained from writing this story and move on to the next one.
Every story is a journey that has its ups and downs, but there is a difference between being frustrated and being out of love. Only you can know which one you’re experiencing.