28 September 2015

Feeling the Fear with Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement

I have the typeset files for my book on my computer. They're uncorrected, so I'm going through them, looking for typos and bits of text that need polishing. There's more every time I look. It's been about seven years since I embarked on this project, so by now I am word-blind. I move a comma here, swap a word there, really, does it make any difference? I can't believe I use the word "trump" so many times, god I'm so flatulent, better fix that. There's nothing like having your own verbal tics rubbed in your face to bring you down to earth.

I've been published all over the place but Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement will be my third solo-authored book. The other two were hardly easy to do, but what I'm noticing with this one is that it is difficult to write a book and this is why most people don't do it. It's difficult because writing is difficult, getting a publisher is usually difficult (though I've been lucky), producing the blimmin' thing is difficult and being in the public eye is difficult. People treat you as though you can just pop out a book at will; well, maybe that worked for Barbara Cartland but it's not my experience. They don't see the labour or the risk.

Third time around I feel a lot more sensitive to the risk. Maybe it's because Twitter exists. I get more hate mail now than I ever used to get when things were more analogue. It's so easy for someone to hate you and well-documented how women, queers, fat people and people on the margins get a lot more trolled than the cis white guy population. I'm girding myself for that. Having any kind of progressive opinion about fat puts you in a firing line, no matter how comparatively anodyne. The agents of obesity discourse want you to shut up because your voice threatens their power.

But the risk is also in speaking to people whose opinions I care about. Have I created something that fat activists will find useful? Is this work of any value? I hope that it is, that's been the guiding principle for the project. I've shared the work where I can over the years, and invited a lot of feedback. But I will only really know the book's value when people start to read it and talk about it and contribute their own thoughts to the thing.

So this is a scary time for me. Will my work have been wasted? A couple of readers have gone through the uncorrected proofs and, so far, the response has been positive. There are more to come. I'm on tenterhooks though, and probably will remain so for some time.

Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement is going to be published in the UK by HammerOn Press in January 2016.


Sleepydumpling said...

I am so glad you do what you do. Your work is so important and it both strengthens me and makes me ask myself hard questions. I just wish we didn't have to deal with all the abuse and harassment that the internet opens us up to.

Looking forward to reading it when it comes out.

Dr Charlotte Cooper said...

Thank you.

I appreciate your support and work, SD.