Wake Up to Your Weight Loss sprang out of my frustration with diets and how they don’t really work. Rather, they screw up your morale and metabolism, causing more weight gain and crappy health. I was meditating already, and working with personal storytelling thanks to my first book (Wake Up to Your Stories) and decided to combine meditation with writing exercises to work with the issue of weight. I also added “off the mat” practices to bring these ideas into readers’ everyday lives.
Tell us something about yourself.
I grew up on eastern Long Island, bored out of my skull. It’s beautiful out there but I wanted experience, so I moved to Boston to attend college, then New York for graduate school. I have also lived in London to go to art school and now reside in Los Angeles. I also love Chicago and San Francisco and will probably live both of these places before I die. I’m a huge basketball fan, with baseball coming in a close second. I believe all artists should be well balanced, so I try to watch TV as well as read, play sports and watch them. It makes your characters richer if you can move between the worlds a little more easily, and I find it keeps my mind sharp to cultivate curiosity.
What inspired you to write this book?
My own struggles, mostly, but also the struggles of people who attended my writing workshops. Weight seems like such a simple problem to solve, with all of our medical know-how, yet it continues to elude science. Everyone loves to blame the victim, which isn’t really helpful. I wanted to provide another way of looking at the problem of weight, and help people curb reactivity, which makes them overeat, through meditation and personal storytelling. It worked for me; I lost over 80 pounds.
How did you publish this book? Why did you decide on that publisher?
I knew some people starting a small publishing company in Los Angeles, and thought it would be a good first experience to start small. I published my second book with them as well, so that’s worked out well.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
It sounds kinda cliché, but I think it picked me. I wanted to be a vet, a painter and then a filmmaker, but it very naturally came about that I was writing stories, always. It doesn’t matter whether I’m writing or not. I am always making up stories, about everyone I meet and everything I see. I don’t know if this is my own built-in entertainment system, or some mild form of psychosis. I got started writing screenplays, then moved to short stories, articles and non-fiction. I’ve also done rock and alternative health journalism and written a novel. But the first thing I ever published was a poem, which is weird because I’ve only ever written about four of them in my life. That happened in college.
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
Patience. Some people try to muscle their way through something, and that never works. You have to wait for it to show up, or coax it out, be it a line of dialogue, a character trait or the ending of the piece, which is always the hardest for me.
How do you do research for your books?
I love research and have the skills from my journalism days. I go to the library (a holy place), call people for recorded quotes and interviews, use cited Internet sites and read my butt off.
Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?
I learned that added weight is not what we’ve been trained it is. Instead, it’s a state of mind, easily worked with using tools everyone has at their disposal. I believe this method can be applied to any “bad” habit, and used to kick it to the curb. Changing your mind comes first, then changing your actions. By changing food intake first, we’re completely ignoring the mind, where all reason and decision-making lie.
What are you reading now?
Parallel Universes, by Fred Alan Wolf. Then I want to get into the new Lauren Groff book, Delicate Edible Birds, then Odd Man Out, about a minor leaguer trying to make it to the majors (did I mention I’m a baseball fan?)
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
All types, really. I don’t have a favorite type of book. I’m pan-interested and love to discover new authors and subjects. I love Mary Gaitskill and Richard Price for their honesty, and Raymond Chandler and Flannery O’Connor for their poetry.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I just finished it. It’s called Signs Point to Yes: My Search for Love Through the 12 Signs of the Zodiac, and is a memoir about the time I spent working at a psychic line while trying to mend a broken heart. We’re taking it out to publishers imminently.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Get experience. Every type of experience you can find. Don’t sit in your room and ruminate. It makes you pasty. Work at weird jobs. Mix it up with the world. Listen to how people really speak and if you don’t like it, make up a language of your own. Get hurt. Fall down. Don’t be afraid to let your bra strap show. Find great writers outside your discipline, like songwriters, and learn from them as well (email me if you want a list).
What are you doing to promote your latest book?
I’ve done a lot of blog and radio interviews, some guest blogging and went on a 23-city tour around the U.S. That was amazing, and made me appreciate rock stars a lot more than I already did. I also keep a web site, teach online classes and have a blog, Facebook and Twitter page.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
My site & online classes can be found at: http://www.alysonmead.com.
You can become my Facebook friend at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?ref=profile&id=1275990412.
Or buy the book on Amazon.com.