Happy New Year! Will 2017 be the year for my next retro diet book?

I needed to take time away from my writing after my divorce was final in 2015. In addition to the major changes and emotional recovery that brings I have had to dedicate a lot of my resources to address my chronic nightmares from multiple childhood traumas. That's still happening.

Thoughts of a follow-up to American Women Didn't Get Fat in the 1950s never left me. I had spent a good deal of time pre-divorce getting my research ready and this year gave my home office a transformation to make it more conducive to writing.

Why, then, was I still up against writer's block? I had to dig deep to figure out what was really preventing me from starting the next literal chapter in my writer's life. 

It was fear. 

Fear of being misread, misunderstood or maligned. My book turned out to be very polarizing. For example:

The latest ratings on Goodreads

During the first year after I published my book I received a steady flow of messages from women thanking me and letting me know how helpful my book was to them.  That was very rewarding and encouraging! On the flip side I was accused of being a "fat shamer" in online reviews and social media. Yes that sucks but I knew it shouldn't be a show stopper for me because surely there's a way to write a follow-up without offending anyone. Right?!

Every time I attempted to start I would talk myself out of it. If I include excerpts from my favorite 1930s weight loss guru some people would read it as "fat shaming." If I write about how books I've read from the Victorian Era have heavily influenced my lighter eating some people would point to how women couldn't vote during that time so why would I glorify the era. Surely I must be an anti-feminist. Sharing my joy of hard work in the kitchen would, to some, make me an Archie Bunker.

I woke up this fine 2017 morning with this resolution:

I don't court or crave controversy but I won't cave into it, either! I won't use it as a basis for whether or not I voice what is important to me. By "voice" I mean my writing. I'll be passing along information to empower more women--and men this time--to approach eating and weight from a wholesome and yes, outdated perspective that worked for millions! And yes, it will surely not be helpful to others.

Writing is the easier part but the editing and formatting is not. My goal is to first write a manuscript and then shop publishers. Given real life and that I still have to bring in money while I write I don't have a timeline. However I'd rather start it now and do my best in my time frame with what I have than not write it at all.

What do you think, dear blog readers? Would you be interested in a follow-up book? Lurkers, I want to hear from you, too!

Comments

  1. I, for one, would be most interested. I like how, in your book you shared some of the forgotten lore of how weight was regarded and controlled back in a day when women were more slender (look at old TV shows or pictures of ordinary - meaning non-celebrity - women "back in the day" for reference). It's January 1 and we've been regaled with unending television commercials about the latest gimmicks in weight loss and exercise. I want more of what's simple, what's basic and what works. Short answer - Yes!

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    1. Thank you! Seeing all of the diet gimmickry and scammy pill commercials you mentioned also motivates me to get back to work on my next book!

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  2. Oh yes, I agree. I enjoyed your book both for the inspiration and the nostalgia. You'll never may every reader happy!

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    1. Thank you, Tina! I will be infusing my next book with lots of "new" nostalgia!

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  3. Absolutely. And the only way to please everyone is to not say anything - I know it's tough, but try to accept that not everyone is going to share your POV.

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  4. As a lurker, I say absolutely. I loved your book and found it, like Pollen's Defense of Food, to be very informative and inspirational.

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    1. Thanks, Kit, for delurking and your compliment!

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  5. I gave your a book a positive review, Averyl, and have recommended it to others. Yes I would like to see you follow your dream and ignore the nattering nabobs of negativity! I saw a lot of truth in your book, including how we have changed over the decades with our approach to eating and exercise, vanity sizing, self-image, etc. In no way were you "fat shaming", but rather, sharing empowering reminders!
    Lois

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    1. Thank you for your positive review and sharing your perspective! I had to google the origin of "nattering nabobs of negativity." I learned something new!

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  6. I loved your first book and gave it five stars. Couldn't any diet book be accused of fat shaming for that matter? And should any era of history be entirely negated due to some negative aspect of the era? The point of looking at history is to learn from it. If we are only going to learn from the bad parts and not the good, that seems very narrow-minded. Nothing in your book suggests that people are supposed to look a certain way or have a certain body type. It is suggesting that excess weight contributes to less than optimal health. This is well-documented. You never told anyone not to feel good about themselves or love themselves for who they are. You merely pointed out a group of women who had something figured out then backed it up with some compelling stats. And to the 'feminists' who think preparing their own food in their own kitchens means they've failed women everywhere, consider this: insourcing our food prep more often not only gives us more control over what we're putting in our bodies, but it is better for the planet. It benefits women in parts of the world we never see. If we take the very modern approach of eating local, organic, etc. we have to do more food prep. It's not a step backwards, it's just a step away from some the unsustainable lifestyle practices that have developed since those beloved vintage times. In the same way that appreciating Victorian approaches to health in no way negates the positive changes for women with regard to the vote, taking a step back into the kitchen for the sake of health, healing, and artistry in no way negates forty plus years of feminism. It just means you baked a pie like a bad ass.

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    1. Thank you, Melanie for the five stars!

      Yes, I think the concept of a diet book can definitely be considered fat-shaming by some people.

      You make excellent points about how we view learning from history! "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it..." Such a negative spin. You're right in that we also need "those who cannot learn from history are doomed to forget about it."

      I agree about the impact on the environment which has been important to me with my eating.

      " taking a step back into the kitchen for the sake of health, healing, and artistry in no way negates forty plus years of feminism. It just means you baked a pie like a bad ass."

      Bravo!!

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  7. YES! Keep writing, please. LOVE both of your books!! Your writing and perspective is a breath of fresh air- we CAN be healthy, fit, slender and content with ourselves and our bodies while cooking eating sufficient servings of real food. I just turned 42 today and I don't plan on buying elastic band pants and giant shirts so that I can double-fist the junk foods while telling myself that weight gain comes with age, ha!! Keep going!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Andrea happy birthday!!!!!!!!! And thank you!! Funny lady!

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  8. I certainly liked your first book and was pleased to do a review of it on Amazon. I don't eat exactly the same as you, but there are many ways to have a healthy diet and lifestyle. The fact that we may not agree on some things does not mean I can't appreciate what you do because not every way works for every body. There are some health principles, however, that are consistent across people and having a healthy weight is one of them. Telling someone who is not a healthy weight is not shaming them, it is showing that you care. Giving them the tools to help themselves is even better. Of course, what they do about it is up to them. But we can't escape the heath consequences that not being a healthy weight will cause. So I believe if you have something to offer and help people and that is your intent, that I totality support your doing what you have the talent to create.

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  9. Averyl, I've enjoyed both of your books exceedingly. They have been very helpful to me. Please don't worry about the SJW's - they are never satisfied with anything, and will ridicule and demean anyone at anytime. Reality, logic, and facts are their enemies. You can't please such people - ever. So, don't try. I would truly appreciate a follow up book. I have been going through depression for nearly a decade now, and as a result gained about 35 lbs. beyond my desired weight (based on the 1958 Metropolitan Charts in your first book). After reading your diet book I was inspired to loose weight, and have done so. I still have about 15 lbs. left, and I'm not always as diligent as I ought to be, but I keep on keeping on, and have not gained additional weight. Your vintage cookbook has been a godsend also. I'm still dealing with the depression, which may be why I've not lost all the weight yet, but the depression is slowly waning. I reiterate, I would love to see a follow-up book.

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    1. Oops! "Lose" weight, not "loose" weight!

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    2. Susan, you offer sage advice. I will keep it in mind. I am sorry to hear about your depression but am glad to hear it is waning. However, that is stellar that despite that you have lost and kept off twenty pounds! It thrills me to hear that my cookbook has been worthwhile for you, and that my first book has been so inspirational. Thank you!

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  10. Oh, I would love to read another of your books! After reading your books and Linda Przybyszewski's "The Lost Art of Dress", http://professorpski.tumblr.com/, I realized America threw the baby out with the bath water with all of our movements. Our poor citizens are so polarized right now they're afraid to even be happy when things are going well.
    Those who get what you're saying are always going to accept it because they are hungry for it, and have run out of other options. When you are truly hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet. I mean, when you've tried everything, and this bit of sanity breaks through with no greater rule than "Don't overeat" ....... I mean.... what else can you say? Still, I'm hesitant to suggest your book to people. (Sorry!) I was a with a group of women, and got asked how I keep my weight so steady. I told them. Crickets, small gasps, and a few disapproving looks were the response. At home it was another story. My husband shouted hallalujah, no more weird food! My kids are all a healthy weight too, and noone is starving. (That's saying a bunch when you've got three teens.)
    Disaproval sucks, and hurts, but like I keep telling my kids, keep bringing the focus around to who you are and to whom you belong. The stings won't last so long if you do. It works even when you really are wrong. ;)

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    1. Thank you, lo_lo!

      I added that book to my wish list, looks great.

      Lots of gems of wisdom in your post. Living our truth happily and focusing on what's working and healthy for us and those we love is what matters most. Like you said, it can still hurt when it seems others take offense (and I get that you aren't pushing your ways on others, it's only if you are asked or others take note) but it's not a reason to feel ashamed and hide who we are.

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  11. Averyl, I've told you in the past that you've been a major inspiration for me in losing weight. It did take a few years of reading your blog but then I talked to a coworker last year who revealed he had lost a lot of weight prior to coming on board with our company. And you know how he did it? He counted calories and kept track of them in an app. So now I know TWO people who lost weight sensibly by counting calories and not by any of the countless gimmicks that are out there. You two reinforced each other for me and as of now, since last May, I've lost 40 lbs. I might want to lose 5 more but if not, I'm good where I'm at. This is where I used to be.

    All that to say I owe you a debt of gratitude for the way you keep putting it out there in spite of sometimes the negativity you encounter along the way. Please, please write that book and I will add it to my collection of Averyl Hill books! And, not to make it all about me, but I think of you and how far you've come with everything you've gone through and share with us. I'm grateful that you have Wayne in your life and for all the support you have here on your blog. You go, girl! :)

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    1. Thank you, Aileen! You've been "with me" online for a very long time and I really appreciate your support! Of course knowing I have helped you and seeing your progress is very rewarding!

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  12. I would buy it! I loved your first book and found it very helpful. Please do write the next one.

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    1. Excellent! I'm working on my book outline as I type this. :)

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