Bookfat

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.

26 thoughts on “Bookfat

  1. Lyle Lachmuth

    I laughed my ass off!
    But, in a I kinda-been-there-myself way!
    The massage sounds wonderfully masochistic… perhaps you put on the weight and messed up the body just for the pleasure/pain.
    I on the other had went full-meal-deal and mainfested Fibromyalgia.. see my poignant, gritty, story of recovery at http://www.BeyondThePain.Info/
    Oh, and balance and not being extreme?
    Never gonna happen!!!
    Lyle

    Reply
  2. Kim George

    Thanks so much for giving me the first real laugh I’ve had since I entered into the crazy world of publishing.
    The reason I laughed so hard was not just because you’re so damn funny – it was relief! Relief that someone else is feeling what I’m feeling about being a first-time author.
    You speak the truth . . .
    you are surrounded by friends and family who support you and love you.
    And we’re all going to help you make Blog Wild! a raving success.
    Kim George
    http://www.coachingintogreatness.com

    Reply
  3. Patsi Krakoff

    Andy, you could write about anything and people want to read it. Great stuff, great humor, great insight. I’m afraid that what this means is a life-time of writing ahead for you, so get ready for the next round of the book fat blues. If you think turning 30 means slowed metabolism, get ready for 40…etc. But you know what, the tough just get tougher and you learn how to deal with it. Carrots, celery and tennis…

    Reply
  4. Maryam Webster

    And it’s cumulative, too! I’m still working off the bookfat from my first opus back in 1988… (guffaw)
    “It’s not alcoholism with its terrible plummet into pathos and eventual phoenix-esque born-again journey through the twelve steps.”
    This whole paragraph is just good writing…and why I read this blog. You can twist a metaphor like nobody’s business Andy. Keep it coming! 😀

    Reply
  5. Pippa

    Andrew,
    Yes, Book Fat can slam you, in the especially when you hit the 40’s.
    I am a victim and I only write SHORT stories!
    What would happen if I get a novel published?
    Jolly good stuff here,
    Keep It Going,
    Pippa

    Reply
  6. R. Scott Hall

    Andy:
    I so very much laughed myself to near tears – especially over the abdominal trampoline comment. My book has added my own special 30 lbs. to my now 40 year old frame in just this past year alone. Unfortunately now, both “book” and “back” now apply in my fat department.
    I now bear the Michelin man centerpiece around my belt line as a result of my sedentary blogging and writing efforts.
    Best of luck to you on your launch. I hope we can speak soon as my own launch draws near (late April). I’d love to compare notes.
    Perhaps I’ll start “Scott Weight Loss Watch” section on my blog…
    Off to the treadmill,
    R. Scott Hall
    New York, NY
    http://www.citizengeneratedmedia.com

    Reply
  7. Sandee Abern

    Andy,
    Even with some extra meatiness on you, you will still be adorable!!!! Funny stuff, guy!
    Anxiously awaiting the big day so I can say “I knew you when…” We are all there to support you!
    Sandee

    Reply
  8. Gail Stone

    Andy, my dear,
    This is hilarious and SO true! Thanks for making me laugh and feel camraderie bout something I was thinking was my solo problem.
    I was just telling my sister–in-law that I managed to attract what I called “big butt” syndrome over the past 6 months of working on my book and just took to the treadmill every day to work it off. After all, when the book does get out there, so don’t we authors, eh? So looking good is once again important and unfortunately usually just at the time we have managed to get ourselves looking our worst.
    Let this be a cautionary to all your aspiring authors out there. Don’t do what we did, do as we say. 🙂
    Good luck with your new regimen and of course, your terrific new book! I’ll think of you getting pounded everytime I’m pounding the treads and walking my way back to cute butt syndrome.
    Hugs, Gail
    http://www.getagripandgo.com

    Reply
  9. Peter Sharp

    Oh boy, can I relate to this one?! The worrying thing is, I have not written a book, a short story and even my emails rarely go over 3 sentences but my trowsers still seem to shrink in the wardrobe. So much so that the post office now puts me in two zipcodes! 🙂
    Thanks for a great read.
    Pete
    http://www.runwebs.com

    Reply
  10. robert kushner

    Andy,
    You call it Bookfat. My patients call it Lifefat. People learn that the pressures of life can quickly get in the way of living that healthier lifestyle. Helping people get back to a healthier self is my life work.
    Though statistics claim that the majority of people are overweight or obese in our country, my take is that I’m surprised we’re not all overweight.
    The “obesigenic” society we all live in offers us heaping portions of food 24/7 and every reason in the book (yours is writing) to stay sedentary as contented couch and mouse potatoes. Until we look in the mirror or visit our doctor.
    The good news is that small changes in your lifestyle can give you big results in your health. Read my blog at http://dietdoc.typepad.com/weight_loss_expert_blog/ to be inspired and get healthier.
    Robert Kushner, MD
    Medical Director, http://www.diet.com

    Reply
  11. Linda Bowman

    Hi Andy,
    Some much has been written about finding “balance” that it’s all beginning to sound trite. Nonetheless, it is, after all, about finding balance. As a freelance writer and editor, I, too, spend long hours with my butt glued to the chair and my eyes on the computer. I try to make sure I get off the chair and into the fresh air for exercise several times a day. After all, as freelancers, we’re calling the shots, right? And if a book deal comes out of it, so much the better. A little “bookfat” is an easy thing to remedy in the scheme of things. Btw, your book inspired me and your blogs are well worth the read–as long as I keep it all in balance! Best regards, Linda Bowman

    Reply
  12. James Caffrey in Costa Del Sol Spain

    Hi Andy,
    Some much has been written about finding “balance� that it’s all beginning to sound trite. Nonetheless, it is, after all, about finding balance. As a freelance writer and editor, I, too, spend long hours with my butt glued to the chair and my eyes on the computer. I try to make sure I get off the chair and into the fresh air for exercise several times a day. After all, as freelancers, we’re calling the shots, right? And if a book deal comes out of it, so much the better. A little “bookfat� is an easy thing to remedy in the scheme of things. Btw, your book inspired me and your blogs are well worth the read–as long as I keep it all in balance!

    Reply
  13. Rob Palmer

    Yes, this is a real issue for freelance writers and authors. It’s not something you think about at the start of your career, but when you start looking back it hits you.

    Reply
  14. Monica Ricci

    Andy, I saw this on Paul Davidson’s blog and wrote about it myself. I had no idea it had come from you (or else in a cookie-induced fog, I forgot) I can indeed relate… when I was writing my book, I would periodically run downstairs in the middle of a chapter (the dreaded chapter FIVE if you must know) and EAT EVERYTHING IN SIGHT. It was a clue that I was stressed out about whatever I was writing about and needed an escape which turned into about ten pounds of ugly, unwanted bookfat. Thankfully, I’m almost back to my fighting weight.

    Reply
  15. Glenda Watson Hyatt

    NOW you tell me, Andy! My question is: how long after birthing your book does the bookfat disappear? I’m at 1.5 years now with no signs of the pounds melting away yet. If you thought it was bad at 30, don’t try it at 40!
    Hmm, never thought that my Faith kitty’s swinging pouch could be related to mine!

    Reply

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