For a while now I’ve been thinking of writing a book based on this blog, and right now I seem to have some time coming up when I might actually manage it. So I want to ask for your thoughts.
The idea would be to select and sort the existing blog posts into thematic clusters – ‘starting recovery from an eating disorder’, say, or ‘eating disorders and other people’, or ‘physical symptoms in illness and recovery’ – and to lightly edit and update the posts that make the cut with references to relevant research that’s been done since I wrote them (or which I’ve only found out about since). I’d also include a selection of readers’ comments and my replies to enrich each chapter with some of the things you’ve found interesting, difficult, or helpful (or indeed unhelpful).
I haven’t worked out the details yet – how many themes of what breadth to try to cover, for example; how much to change from earlier posts when I knew much less about the broader topic and other people’s experiences than I do now. But the basic principle would be the same as for the blog: to bring personal experience into dialogue with scientific research to try to enhance our understanding of what eating disorders are and how to recover from them.
One of the main advantages I see for a book over the blog would be the freedom to create new groupings of chapters with connections that can get lost in the default chronological ordering of the blog format, where I’ve usually only made links backwards to things already written. Being able to fully cross-reference within a meaningful structure would, I think, give the experience of reading the whole thing ‘cover to cover’, as I know some people do the blog, a more satisfying arc.
The links between the main text and the discussion generated by the original post could also be made much tighter and more amenable to overview; as it is, long threads of comments tackling related and/or distinct questions raised by the post, sometimes years apart, can be a bit daunting to navigate.
Of course, things will be lost as well as gained. A book will never have the living breathing breadth and flexibility of a blog; and the omission of lots of rich material will be the price of cohesion. But winning and losing is only the right way of thinking about their relationship if you see the book as a replacement for the blog, which it won’t be. I’ll of course keep posting on Psychology Today, and I hope that the book might simply serve some usefully different functions: be something physical to take on the train or into the garden, to show to friends or family, to offer a less sprawling crystallisation of ideas and findings and reflections I’ve explored over the six years (almost to the day) since I started writing this blog.
Anyway, the main reason for this post is to ask for your thoughts. Does this seem like a good idea? If so, are there any topics you’d particularly like to see covered, or expanded beyond what there is in the blog? And when it comes to my inclusion of some of your comments, I’d also like to offer you an opportunity to tell me if you’d rather I didn’t use something you’ve written, or would prefer me to anonymise it (if you included a name originally). Please comment below or write to me privately via the contact form within six months (from today, so 13 January 2016) with the details of your comment(s) if you want me not to consider including them, and I’ll make sure I don’t. But I hope not too many of you will feel this way. I think the rich discussion there has been over the years with and between you, my readers, is a major part of the blog’s value, and would be of the book’s too – to future readers who might be struggling with an eating disorder themselves, or watching a friend or sibling or child struggle, and find insight and hope in what you’ve found the time and courage to share with others.
I’ll stop there. I really hope this sounds like a basically good idea, and look forward to your ideas for how to make it even better. Oh, and any thoughts on a good title?!