If you could cook dinner for any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you make?
Lin Manuel-Miranda. I’d spare him my cooking and order delivery, though. I overcook everything.
What scares you the most about the writing process? How do you combat your fears?
As I reflect, I think the most consistent recurring fear is being wrong/misstating something and either not realizing it or not being able to correct it. I combat this not-so-irrational fear in two primary ways: by checking and revising facts/phrasings, and by reassuring myself “I’m human. If something is wrong, I won’t die. It’ll just feel awful for a while.”
Who is your biggest literary crush, author or character?
Did I say Lin Manuel-Miranda already? Oopsie. Repeat answer. Love him. (Hamil-geek here.)
What books are on your nightstand?
Psychology books because there’s so much to learn in the field of psychology/mental health.
Favorite punctuation mark? Why?
I love the dash. It’s rebellious, bold, versatile, and less formal than a colon. To me, the dash reads like people speak.
What book were you supposed to read in high school, but never did?
I was a really good student. Yet I've always read slowly. So I did a few CliffNote versions.
What inanimate object would you thank in your acknowledgements?
My laptop. “Computer, thank you for coming back after dying twice during the process of finishing MeaningFULL.”
If you could write an inspirational quote on the mirrors of aspiring writers, what would you write?
Passion + Persistence = Possible.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Imposter Syndrome. Sometimes it freezes me.
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
I threw out MeaningFULL at least once. At least.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
Yes. It depends on how we define writer. If we mean “someone who writes,” then the person could find a niche that doesn't require them to convey strong emotions.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’m friends with a number of people who have published articles or books. Every bit of feedback helped me become a better writer--whether from a published author or not.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I haven’t decided yet if this might become a series. I wonder what readers would like to see, and welcome suggestions.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
I changed my writing process a great deal since I had previously done primarily academic writing. Conversational stories were foreign to me and required a mentor. Some narratives came from recorded interviews and transcripts, which helped capture the storyteller’s voices. Other stories required editing only. Either way, the process evolved and was quite collaborative. This book changed nearly everything about how I write, and I’m grateful. It's what I wanted to read years ago.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Money spent for a mentor helped me to be a better writer. Consultation with lawyers taught me about publication. And if MeaningFULL helps people, then it all was the best money I ever spent as a writer.
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
It’s been years since I read for pleasure, and I refuse to say anything negative about any author I have read while trying to grow and learn as a clinician.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
My parents had a plaque in the house with this Calvin Coolidge saying, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence…” Once I knew what persistence meant, I watched for how persistence showed up in the world. That passage has influenced me ever since. Most recently as a therapist, I see how important the way I say something is; it can have real influence in how people can recognize their best choices.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Chunk the Groundhog (check YouTube). Day after day after day, he shows up.
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
I owe them gratitude for their generosity, protection of their identities (where appropriate), and honor. From the bottom of my heart, I’m touched they trusted me with their life-experiences.
What does literary success look like to you?
Reaching and positively impacting people is literary success to me. Would I love some nice reviews, to earn an award, or to make a list? Heck yes. But when I started this journey, I promised to do my best to reach and impact the most people I could with this book and the messages contained in it. And that will be enough.
What’s the best way to market your books?
Let me be direct here: “Readers, if you enjoy MeaningFULL or if it means something to you, please tell your friends about it and share it on social media.” Those are the best ways to spread the word.
What did you edit out of this book?
I tried to give enough pain to feel for and with the storyteller, but not get mired down in the heavy content.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I’m a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Eating Disorders Specialist in private practice in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles. To learn more about my practice, visit www.TherapyHelps.Us
About Alli's Book!
MeaningFULL: 23 Life-Changing Stories of Conquering Dieting, Weight, & Body Image Issues is a blend of motivational self-help, memoir, psychology, and health and wellness. Alli Spotts-De Lazzer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, an expert in eating and body image issues, and a woman on the other side of her own decades-long struggle with food and body.
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