I receive a good amount of questions in my Inbox from readers or other writers, so I thought I’d start posting all of my answers in one place. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you, too, are scratching your head about something.
You’ve said that your website is “to make everyone a little less miserable.” What was your reason for starting the site?
Well the truth is that I wanted to make myself a little less miserable, and create an outlet for my writing that would be challenging in ways that a private journal isn’t. I was living at home at the time, enduring eating disorder recovery, and bored out of my mind, and truthfully, I think because I was eating more, my brain just sort of woke up one day and was like “wow, you have all these thoughts and feelings” after being numb for so long. I’ve always written but suddenly I had this daily urge to do it—in hindsight, it was a major moment in my life, even if it just looked like a girl in her pajamas typing away at her computer while eating lots of Clif bars.
And in terms of making other people feel better, I always want my writing to be enjoyable or pleasurable to readers in some way, and especially when it comes to pieces related to mental health and body image, I hope that other people who are struggling will find comfort, if nothing else, in knowing they’re not alone.
One of the topics you talk about is eating disorders. Do you think this is something that should be discussed more? And how do you attempt to tackle it from a different angle?
Absolutely. There are some great websites and blogs out there now that cover the topic, but they’re really only read by a niche group of eating disordered people and doctors, rather than a larger, mainstream audience, which I think is what we still need. Of course ED-adjacent topics do make headlines, such as underweight models at fashion week or the promotion of plus-size models, but they are really fleeting and don’t fully investigate the complexities of weight/body issues and related illnesses.
I never set out to tackle it from a different angle, so-to-speak, I just set out to TACKLE IT, which felt revolutionary enough. I think what does differentiate me, especially when I first started (people are slowly opening up about them more now, it seems), was that I was doing it on a platform that everyone who knew me could read—be it my best friends, my parents, or random kids I went to high school with. It wasn’t private at all, and so it often felt very vulnerable, but I felt that the truth was really important—and it turns out that many of those people could relate.
Most people seem to write about their ED’s after they’ve fully recovered, whereas my experience has been a lot more true to the ups and downs of recovery. I’ve gained weight, eat a lot more, and am not necessarily an “at risk” patient—but I still fight ED demons every day, and do not feel I’m fully recovered. I think that honesty can be more appealing to people, and can help them understand these vastly misunderstood disorders more clearly.
You like to read and write a lot. If you had to choose one, where would be your favorite place to think?
Hmm, that’s tough! I like my headspace the most first thing in the morning, when I’ve had a cup of coffee and scoured the Internet a bit for other writing that inspires me. I usually do this in my bedroom, but the place itself isn’t that important, as long as it’s fairly quiet. As for reading, the subway can be great if it’s not too crowded—in our hyper-digital world, it can take me getting away from those distractions to get fully absorbed in a book.
In an age where we are so consumed by our phones and social media, why do you think it’s still important to pick up a book and write on paper?
Well, to be honest, I rarely write on paper anymore—it’s just so much faster on the computer for me—but I do think writing letters and notes has its merits. Tangible items can feel more memorable or meaningful than something I’ve created online, but that’s personal and doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone. I think reading books is very important though, because it’s the best way to learn how to write and, even if that’s not something you desire, it expands your worldview and overall way-of-thinking. You can get all of that from an eBook, too, but I like to jot notes in the margins and underline things that I like. The thought of picking up an old book of mine in the future and seeing those scribbles makes me happy, or passing them onto my future children. It’s nice to have the relic.
What was it that first made you want to write?
That’s a really tough question, because I think it’s been for many different reasons at different stages in my life, and I’m also not sure it’s an easy question to answer objectively. But I’ll give it a shot! When I was much younger, I think it was a way to unload my very busy imagination, while also escaping the mundanity of daily life. I think most writers are a little dissatisfied with reality, and want to embellish it however they can.
But when I got older, in the last five years or so, it became more about this desire to authentically express myself, rather than creating something fictional. It felt like more of a release than an escape. I also think there’s a desire for control in every writer, especially those who pursue non-fiction, and what I mean by that is: through writing, we can feel as if we’re in control of all of these things that have happened in the world and to us personally, we can frame them in a way that makes them palatable. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re changing the facts, it just means you’re reframing how you (and others) see them.
I really loved how I was learning more about you as a person when reading your articles. Was this something you intended? Did you want the reader to really connect with you on a personal level and be able to relate?
I never set out with the intention of people getting to know me better, but because so much of my writing is inherently personal, I certainly hoped that they would be able to empathize or relate. My favorite writing is very personal and honest—I love connecting with the authors and seeing a bit of myself in them—so I suppose I was just naturally inclined to emulate that. Writing about yourself can feel very selfish, and, in fact, it is, but I always strive to make it universal or relatable somehow, and I think that drives people to keep reading my stuff more than them wanting to know the nitty-gritty of my life.