Literary history is littered with countless tales of authors and addictions. But they don’t tell you about bookfat.
No, not backhair. Bookfat. Though backhair can become a secondary characteristic of bookfat as an author’s hygiene suffers from lack of sleep and/or exfoliating and/or regular grooming.
No, not backfat. Bookfat. Though bookfat can end up as backfat, or frontfat. Or even sidefat. Even cankles.
Bookfat is the tendency of a first-time published author to gain weight over the year that their book is written, revised and published.
It happens when suddenly you are practicing your interview with Soledad O’Brien in the bathroom mirror and you notice more chins then there were before. Or you go to the gym to get measured by a personal trainer and found that you’ve gained 20 pounds of fat in the past year. Or you find that the staff at Stella’s diner (Broadway/Barry – amazing service) knows exactly what you want before you even make it in the doorway of the restaurant (I really should give Stella a portion of my royalties – my constant ice tea caffeinating powered this book).
Bookfat isn’t nearly as romantic as a good process addiction. It’s not alcoholism with it’s terrible plummet into pathos and eventual phoenix-esque born-again journey through the twelve steps. It isn’t as beneficial as a well-stoked crytal meth addiction leaving you energetic and jittery but as skinny as Iggy Pop on a no-wheat diet. It isn’t as darkly seductive as a nice sexual compulsion – if you were always on the make there’d be no time to write the book, right? And smoking? Smoking is for wannabes. Get a real stimulant. I’m still heartbroken ephedra’s been banned.
I was not warned about bookfat. I was warned about publicists, publishers, lawyers and royalties but not the fact that I’d probably decimate my own personal health as my book debut approached. Bookfat is born in the delusion that if you just push to next week then you can take a break. Then you can do one of those strangely captivating colon cleanses. Or sweat it out at the spa. Or hydrate until your inner levees breach.
It happens when suddenly an entire bag of Pepperidge Farm cookies (Soft-baked, dammit!) seems like a feasible meal alternative.
It happens when you order Dominos Pizza online so you barely have to have any human interaction in your day.
It happens when you silently make that transition from a 31 waist to a 33 in a Gap dressing room – quietly considering a belt with a big buckle.
It happens when even your cat has a fat pad that jiggles from side to side as he makes his daily jailbreak jaunt down the apartment building hallway.
It happens when you hear Julia Cameron under your pillow chiding you for not writing your daily handwritten journal for months.
It happens when even your better half notices that they have gained weight being stressed out because you’re stressed out.
It happens when you walk past construction workers and they beat on their lunchboxes and catcall:
Hey! Papi! You got fries with that shake?
Or you got to Ann Sather and order the cinnamon rolls and say to yourself
You want coffee with these (fat) rolls?
And so here I stand. Sit. A little heavier. With a few more grey hairs peeking out than before (Anderson Cooper better watch out – there’s a new silver fox on the rise!). It creeps up on you to be sure. Like one of my friends who is a choreographer and was instructing her cast and found she couldn’t jump like she did before (she high-tailed it to a geriatric Weight Watchers and lost 25 pounds). It’s not as urgent as a relative that has just dumped sugar out of his diet after the doctor scared the hell out of him about diabetes run amuck. Don’t think that I’m suddenly worthy of The Learning Channel where they have to chainsaw out the wall of my apartment to lift me on a board and then have Richard Simmons dance on my man-boobs his Bedazzled bedraggled jig. There’s just a little more Andy than there ought to be. And yes, part of it is the You’re 30 Now Metabolism Slowdown. There’s more Andy than there need be and I look forward to getting the amount of Andy taking up cubic centimeters on this mad planet back down to a more reasonable level.
I have since installed weekly massages for the next 2 months. Structural integration (same technique as Rolfing). Because I can’t do anything halfway, right? I can’t have a gentle Alexander Technique massage. No, I have to have it beat out of me. And Patrick is a fantastic massage therapist (in Chicago? I’ll give you his info). I showed up last week and he took one look and wondered how the hell I manage to make it down the street with shin splints, caved in shoulders, upper back knots, tightened psoas and an abdominal wall you could use as a trampoline. This massage is the most pain I’ve ever paid to feel – but it is so wonderful to have the tension extracted from my mortal coil.
But as Michael has said before – these are the problems you want to have. I want to have the challenge of managing my life and work and publishing a book and increasing visibility. I want to have the challenge of deciding business strategy for the next year and how it all fits together. I just need to act on these changes sooner and realize that there’s an entire network of clients, colleagues, friends and family pulling for my success – and willing to help out.
So be forewarned about bookfat. When you get your book deal, plug-in non-negotiable, out-of-the-house non-book-thinking-about time with yourself, your friends and your family.