Frances Kuffel

PASSING FOR THIN, EATING ICE CREAM WITH MY DOG and LOVE SICK

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February 25, 2010

Tags: misreading, Angry Fat Girls, blogs, Google alert, Passing for Thin

Among the eighty-two thousands things an author now needs from the web in order to publicize her book is a simple gadget called the Google alert. This alert can be used for any word or phrase one wants. I still get updates on "obesity research" which I relied on while writing ANGRY FAT GIRLS and I get daily updates on "Frances Kuffel".

This alerts have grown more necessary each year because so much is being written exclusively on the web. Despite getting a lot of updates on how my books are selling on eBay, I'm also clued in to what people are saying about my writing in blogs.

Sometimes it's not pretty.

Sometimes I have to respond, as creepy as that makes me feel.

One such blog drifted on to my radar this week. I think the real problem the writer had with the book was actually with me. It's Okay to not like me. I don't like a lot of memoirists and the ones I do, I'm scared of. However, if I was going to blog about a memoir I didn't like, I would at least check my facts.

Bloggetta scoffed at how small incidents like being yelled at when my dog jumped and barked at a man who startled her can start me on a binge. I can certainly see that most people would not gain weight over such a moment but a slightly closer reading of the book would have reminded her that I suffer from depression combined with social anxiety and that one of the things that really finished off my weight gain was realizing I had been willfully ignorant about the options I had in dealing with my abusive boss.

Obviously, someone who couldn't tell her boss not to twist her nose is going to be sort of a weenie. Part of the book is about my struggle not to be such a weenie.

Nor could Bloggetta understand why being fired, with a severance package, from a bad workplace could jeopardize my thinnosity.

What are the three things considered most stressful in life? Death, moving and job change. Job loss IS job change, and I had truly identified myself as a literary agent so much that it was difficult to find another meaning in my life -- despite the fact that I was ten months away from publishing Passing for Thin. I hadn't made the transition to being a writer.

I'm venting here because Bloggetta posts on a site that allows less response than a fortune cookie. Still, I think a slightly more sensitive reading would have revealed to her that this fat lady, for one, has to factor depression into any equation. She would also have remembered that I lived in self-blame for not having defended myself in that job, or with the guy who verbally abused me over Daisy's misbehavior.

And Daisy was OF COURSE on leash, Bloggetta -- a point you really got wrong.

I often respond to thank blog writers for taking the time to read my work. If the review is simply nasty (go look at Amazon comments on PFT if you want to know what it's like to be publicly disliked for perceived venalities), I let it go. But when it's wrong, either in fact (Daisy off leash on a busy Brooklyn Street? I don't think so) or in spirit (hadn't I described how hard it is for me to identify what emotion my reaction is and how to properly express it?), I have to respond.

Because along with Google alerts, the Web is becoming the end-all of publicity. A couple of years ago, Blogalina might have read a review in the Post and decided to read the book but now it's more likely she'll read Bloggetta's take and decide to give the book a skip.

For someone who has a hard time standing up for herself, I sure have to do a lot of it lately.

Shit Happens

January 26, 2010

Tags: blogs, sprained ankle, Twitter, Marie Claire, Holly Cole, eating, Passing for Thin, publishing

The third flat-out, crawl-to-a-fence-to-hoist-myself-off-the-pavement fall occurred on January 16. This time I heard a snap. My left ankle immediately doubled in size. I could move my foot so I assumed I'd sprained it but by the time I got Daisy home I knew I was in trouble.

I have a World Class Sprain. It sounds so so-what but my podiatrist explained why a very bad sprain is worse than a fracture or some breaks: sprains involve ligaments, either tearing them or stretching them. Whereas bones have a great blood supply, ligaments do not. Therefore they are much slower to heal. I'll be in a cast for another three weeks but I get to take it off for therapeutic minutes and I can start to walk again.

I told my publicist that if Oprah calls, of course I can go. I just won't get to wear [both of] my beautiful new shoes.

Luckily, I've only had a couple of radio gigs in the last ten days. I did them in bed with my Frankenstein foot elevated. Unluckily, I've only had a couple of radio gigs.

I wasn't with it enough last week to do more than piddle around with Twitter. Today I read some blog posts that mention me and AFG, one based on the book, one on the Marie Claire abortion. I answered each, clarifying a little on the issues the writers were concerned with.

It's interesting to see what triggers people. One blogger (http://fashionablyfit.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/weighing-in/) wrote, "I would never follow a diet that cut out all of the foods that made me fat — the pizza, the jalapeno poppers, the french fries, the ice cream – because I know it would be destined to fail."

People are enormously afraid of what they might have to give up. This involves not only specific foods, but the fear of parties, holidays, rituals that revolve around food. But I speak mostly for myself or in the collective when I've made it clear that the collective is of a certain kind of make-up.

Merry Perennial (http://merryperennial.blogspot.com/2010/01/perseverating-no-i-dont-mean.html) writes that, "I fear the reason is something mentioned in Frances Kuffel's book: we eat because that is all we have."

I LOVE the Holly Cole song, "I Am the Onion Girl". We have layers and layers of family, friends, work, hobbies, interests, chores and occasions. But -- again, for some of us -- when all those layers come off because we find them flawed or unusable, the core can be eating.

When I published PASSING FOR THIN seven years ago, I wasn't sure what a blog was. It wasn't a book mention I depended on.

Publishing had changed. Every blog helps; every misreading or laud helps. But I have to be active about participating...which is, luckily, a hell of a lot easier than opening up the Word document for the essay I'm writing...

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