Therese here. Please welcome author Diana Spechler to the blog today. Diana’s second novel, SKINNY, released just four days ago, on April 26th. It’s the story of a compulsive eater who takes a job at a weight-loss camp, and is forced to come to grips with herself, her father’s lies, and the half-sister she never knew existed. Diana has written for a variety of esteemed publications including the New York Times, GQ, and Esquire, and teaches writing in New York City. I’m thrilled she’s with us today to talk about writing what you know–and why it’s important. Enjoy!
How I Finally Wrote What I Was Terrified To Write
I used to deny that my writing was cathartic. Instead, I talked about it as if I spent my days coating plastics on an assembly line. “It’s work,” I always said. “It’s like any job.” But when I decided to write SKINNY, a novel exploring body image issues, I ran into trouble: How was I supposed to write about one of my worst pains without feeling it? I had struggled with body image issues since before I could remember. I have a vivid memory of being ten years old, sitting on a beach in a bathing suit, feeling a roll in my stomach, and wanting to cry. This was not assembly-line material. An emotion was bound to slip out.
Of course, I tried not to let that happen. I stopped and started the novel a million times because I was holding back, afraid to climb inside my protagonist’s head and experience her eating disorder. I didn’t want to watch her fantasize about ice cream sundaes, binge at an all-you-can-eat buffet, and use men as a stand-in for food. But if I didn’t do that, I didn’t have much of a character. And without that character, I didn’t have much of a story.
One day when I was complaining about how difficult the work was, my best friend, also a novelist, said something that freed me: [Read more…]