Just last night as I was quizzing Alice in bed on this week's spelling list I told her about how we used to have spelling bees when I was in the third grade and how I won many of them, proudly bringing home blue ribbons. I've always loved words and as long as I can remember I've studied them, changed them, challenged them, and written them. It was also in the third grade that I won my first writing contest - a young author's statewide event where I submitted a fantastical poem about a camel caravan, my little mind in the southeastern Idaho desert dreaming about what it might have been like in a Middle Eastern desert centuries ago.
I've been a writer ever since, both in academia and in the art world and for magazines, journals, and newspapers. A thesis, museum exhibition catalogs, press releases, blog posts, presentations, a TEDx talk. I've written a lot of things. In fact, this month marks 8 years I've been writing this blog and many of you have been reading my words here (and when it was known as Doin' It All, Idaho Style) since my beginning blogspot.com days. EIGHT YEARS! I've always written what I know and these days I write what I'm passionate about - things about motherhood and feminism, perimenopause and death, bodies and self-love, doubt and courage, making change and standing up. While I was born a storyteller, it's also a craft I've honed and something I'm pretty proud of.
The past few weeks, much like this past year, have been rough but also brilliant and beautiful. I was recently honored as one of the 50 Idaho Women of the Year and spoke to so many people hungry for change and feminism and body positivity - from a room full of teenage girls at a local junior high to a room full of community members and college students at Idaho State University for their first annual Positive Body Image Week.
My first annual RADCAMP for feminist girls is fully funded by donations from women I don't even know around the country and is almost sold out. I was the guest on an amazing podcast that a fellow body image warrior Summer Innanen has called Fearless Rebelle Radio talking about age positivity, sex, raising body positive kids and more. The diversity and number of people my work reaches in a positive way daily is extraordinary and empowering.
But it's not always positive and heartwarming - my work comes with a lot of sadness and hard things. I was supposed to speak at a school wide assembly on self-love, body acceptance, and kindness at a large local high school this week that was suddenly cancelled because the school district administrators feel my message - and my body - are "too provocative" and scandalous. And I just had a local grants organization deny my application to fund a writing residency because they found my previous work "too conversational," noting that I probably just "want time away from my kids" and dismissing the power of motherhood, social media, body positivity, and Facebook groups to ignite radical social change. And for some reason the anger and hatred towards me and my ideas on social media has amped up from both men and women in both aggressive and passive-aggressive ways these past two weeks. But all these things right here? The amazing and the awful? They all add fuel to my fire and fodder to my feminism.
Years before I became a famously fat activist I was often asked when I was going to write a book. But ever since, the stories have really solidified in my heart, my mind, and my activism and I've gotten some pretty positive feedback from some pretty knowledgeable people that I'm on the right track.
To be honest, I've been writing this story all of my life and putting it to paper over the past 1.5 years. Some of it on little scraps of paper, to be exact, filling up an old Chinese moon cakes tin with a Team Hillary sticker on front. I carry it around and it vacillates between my bedside table and my bathroom depending on where memories and inspiration strikes. Which, lately, has often been in the middle of the night. There are chapter titles and outlines and page counts and quotes and sadness and anger and frustration and joy and triumph and power in the pen scribbles in this box.
So, here goes. I'm writing a manuscript. For a book. And I'm slightly terrified. Following my own good advice, though, I'm reminded that if I'm not doing at least one thing that scares the shit out of me I'm doing something wrong.
It's gearing up to be part personal essays part feminist manifesto. And I think - I hope - you're gonna want to read it.
Wish me luck.
And stay tuned.