How the Publishing Industry Gives Me Hope for the Body Acceptance Movement

Do you ever feel like you’re in someway compelled to do things the hard way?

I do. All the time.

I mean, I could, for instance, still be a drug court counselor. It was a good job that lots of people would be happy to have. I was good at it. Or, for that matter, I could still be a newspaper reporter, or a teacher, or a bankruptcy preparer. All of those jobs were stable. They provided an income. They fulfilled my need to do something worthwhile.

But no.

No, I can’t get rid of the idea that I’m supposed to be a writer. So, even though doing any of those other jobs would be easier if only because I would be working for someone else and getting a regular paycheck, I’m not happy doing them. Oh, sure. I am at first. At first I’m excited about learning something new and doing something I’ve never done before. But then I’ve done it. And I don’t want to do it anymore.

And wouldn’t my life be easier if I would just choose to be thin? If I’d just get off my ass and run instead of stuff my maw with donuts, my life would certainly be easier. Right?

Who chooses to do this to themselves?

Who decides to pursue a career where almost no one is even modestly successful, where they will be rejected over and over and over again and where they will have to work for years, maybe lots of years, without any concrete sign that they are even any good?

Who chooses to weigh 340 pounds in a world where even 10 or 20 pounds of extra fat is considered a moral failing?

The only reasonable answer, in both cases, is that no one does. If I could do anything else, or live in another body, I am sure I would. At the moment I’m more comfortable in my skin than I ever have been in my life, but I’m sure that sometime over the last 20ish years if someone offered me insta-thin, I would have taken it. And sometimes my inability to let go of the idea of being a novelist feels like the worst kind of insanity.

The publishing industry, in a round about way, actually offers some hope for the body acceptance movement. I know, I know–but follow me here. I write on this blog almost everyday, and I put myself out there like so many others do, in the hopes of change. Not only for myself, but change in the more global sense of the world. Big change in an idea that’s been around so long that lots of people just accept it as truth, that seems set in concrete and is backed by a (very) big money industry.

For a very long time there was only one way to be a successful writer. You wrote a book and hoped (prayed, did rain dances, made deals with the devil) that a publisher would buy it. There was no other way. Not really. Self-publishing was for those who weren’t good enough to do it right. It was a vanity for someone who was willing to pay good money to see their name on a book cover.

And everyone knew it. They accepted it as an absolute truth.

For a very long time it seemed that there was no way to have it any other way. You sold to a publisher and did things the traditional way, or you were a failure.

But now–I mean right now–indie publishing is turning the publishing industry upside down. Suddenly it doesn’t matter anymore if your book fits someone else’s vision or if someone wants to invest in it. An author can put her book out there and if its good, and she gets it in front of enough people, she can be successful. Really.

And if the publishing industry with it’s big conglomerates and even bigger money can be broken by a bunch of rogue authors with their 99 cent Kindle titles–then there is hope. Real hope that a bunch of upstart writers can bring down the Goliath that is the diet industry.

I don’t do things the easy way, and I have no idea why. It isn’t always a conscious thing. It isn’t always within my control. I mean, I come from a family of thin people. Wouldn’t it be easier if my body fit in with theirs and then I, too, could be one of the naturally thin who pass judgment from their ivory towers? Or, at the very least, wouldn’t it be easier to fade into the background and stop subjecting the rest of the God-fearing world to my non-compliance?

Some people write a book, and everything goes so easy that they have to blog about how lucky they are and how they don’t know exactly how they got so lucky, but they did. And aren’t they grateful? Oh, yes.

Here’s the thing:  I am the fat one, and I have been for a long time despite my best efforts otherwise. And I’m not the lucky one who writes a book and then finds herself on the New York Times bestseller list without really knowing how it happened.

That’s right. I’m a fat struggling novelist.

That in itself isn’t anything special. There are, I’m quite sure, a lot of fat struggling novelists out there. I mean, a lot.

But what I’m finding out about myself is that maybe I don’t do things the easy way because I don’t want to. I want to do things differently. I want to use the critical thinking skills I’m paying a lot of money to hone at school to decide for myself how I want to live.

So I write. I write here. And I write novels that I can sell for 99 cents because I don’t have to mess with some faceless publisher. And I accept that I’m a rabble rouser who actually enjoys beating myself against brick walls just so I can be involved in getting through to the other side.

(Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has bought Devil You Don’t. Your support means so much to me. There aren’t even words to say how much.)



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