In February 2010, the week of Valentine’s Day, after three fantastic years in film, I left Hollywood and started writing a blog.
I wanted the blog to be the place I could share healthy recipes, write about losing 135 pounds, and how I’d found balance and peace with food after 20 years without either. I had been every single weight; I had felt highs and lows when my life appeared like I should have felt just the opposite; I had discovered a way to cook and eat that allowed me to feel full and satisfied (and cake was still involved!). And I knew that the only way to tell anyone how I’d achieved balance was to show them–in pictures and posts over days and weeks and maybe years of examples. That’s what a blog is, isn’t it?
So I did.
My mom was disappointed. “How can you leave film?” she asked me, horrified at the thought. “I think you’re making a mistake.”
My stepdad was concerned, but willing to go along with it, “Sweetheart, you do whatever you want to do. But what’s a blog?”
I just wrote.
I decided I didn’t ever want to get preachy with anyone who might read the blog. I’d never be a health zealot or prescribe my own healthy living rules onto someone else. Instead I asked, Can You Stay for Dinner?
And the name of the blog was born.
I showed readers what I ate for breakfast, my salad at lunch, what I made for dinner…in part to answer one of the most common questions I got after losing weight: “So, what do you eat?” But also to share how easy and satisfying it could be to eat healthy, satisfying meals every day.
I loved cooking and eating enough to snap an obscene number of photos of anything and everything edible in my home. I found something beautiful in every plate of food, and loved making food beautiful.
I had so much to say about body image, weight loss, and maintenance — the most valuable lessons I’d learned, things I’d do differently, the mindset shifts that helped me transform…and more. Maybe most importantly, though, I just didn’t want to write about weight and food and weight loss in the way I’d read about it forever, which is, that it’s this linear path to happiness, or that it’s as glowy and glossy as the before and after pictures we see on magazine covers. Because it’s not. I didn’t want to write about balance like it’s a skill we can learn, or a state we can move to. Because it’s a choice, every day.
I wanted the blog to be honest, vulnerable, and different. And by sharing everything — from my ups to the downs — I knew that others would know me better, trust me, and then the blog would be more meaningful to the reader, and to me.
And so I blogged. A year and four months of healthy recipes and reflections.
I wouldn’t be overstating it to say, I had the time of my life. I got comments and emails that made me glow from the inside out. The conversations that were started made me so happy. I met all of you and you made my life fuller.
On June 5, 2011, a longtime reader of mine, someone I’d come to recognize and love through comments and brief emails, sent me a note:
“Andie, I am an assistant book buyer at a big corporation and, well, I’ve seen lots of bloggers getting book deals lately. I know you have a book in you and I would love nothing more than to read it. Would you mind if I sent the link to your blog to some publishers I know? I just want to share you with them.”
Would I mind?
Could I mind?
I replied in fourteen seconds. I told her, in much more articulate words: “I am so flattered. I would love that!”
On June 8th, I woke up to an email from the senior editor and vice president at Simon & Schuster.
“Andie, a colleague passed your blog along to me. I really like your voice. Have you any interest in writing a book? I’d love to discuss it with you.”
I replied in twelve seconds. I told her, in much more articulate words: “Holy* $&*%, YES! I am very interested. I’d love to speak with you further.”
*I left out the holy part.
She wrote back in a matter of seconds, and within ten minutes, my phone rang and the two of us began what would be an hour-long conversation that
could not have gone better.
I adored her.
We spoke, almost so comfortably that I felt uncomfortable. I did not know that it was essentially an interview. The greenness of me couldn’t have known that this conversation would decide whether or not the girl who writes that ‘can you stay for dinner’ blog has a book in her. This editor was feeling me out. She knew, I’m sure, that lots of writers work well with words on a page, but she wondered, ‘can that passion be palpable in real-time? Is there a story in you that’s unique? A confidence in vision and voice?’
She asked if I had a literary agent, and when I said no, she recommended I get one. She told me an agent was not essential, but they’d be extremely helpful to me in reading through contracts and legal documents and securing the best book deal. They’d negotiate best on my behalf.
We hung up as she said,
“Andie, write a proposal. Roughly thirty pages- all that you’d want your book to be. Get it to me… I think you have something.”
I called my mother, just after I squealed for a solid thirteen minutes.
I did not have a deal. I did not have anything more substantial than a vote of confidence. A nudge from someone whose gentle push could move my whole life.
Part 2 to come…