Archive for the FINE: starved without physical evidence Category

F.I.N.E.* is now searchable in iTunes

Posted in FINE: starved without physical evidence, Podcast on April 4, 2011 by Melissa Henry

A quick note to let you know that iTunes users can now subscribe to my podcast feed directly through the application. Simply go to your iTunes application and search either “Melissa Henry” or “FINE” and you’ll find readings from my project under the podcasts section. I’m working on getting that pesky “clean” label removed from the project, as it’s neither “explicit” nor “clean.”  Also, as I post new podcasts corresponding cover art should pop up over on the website and podcast page.

Thanks for listening!

Podcast: Chapter 1…well, the first half

Posted in FINE: starved without physical evidence, Podcast on March 26, 2011 by Melissa Henry

The second podcast is up! This is the first half of chapter one, mainly detailing family dynamics. The second half is soon to follow, and will discuss early experiences with body image and dieting. If you like what you hear, there are a couple of ways you can stay up-to-date. I’ve added a podcast RSS feed button over there on the right and if you visit my podcast page, you’ll find an iTunes subscription button.

As always, I would love to hear what you think!

Day Zero: What I had to decide before I started writing…

Posted in FINE: starved without physical evidence, Writing on March 12, 2011 by Melissa Henry

It took me a long time to get started on this project because I wasn’t sure if I had anything new to say. There were/are a lot of books out there on eating disorders and even more memoirs, so why should I add to the ever-growing pile? But I had even more questions to answer before I put words down on the page so let’s back up…

Before I began writing, throwing everything I had at this project, I needed to know:

1) Is there a need for it?

2) Do I believe in it?

3) Am I willing to do anything to get my book into the hands of readers?

The answers were: yes, yes, and yes. Once I had ruled on these questions, I had no problem stripping everything else away from my life to chase down that first draft.

1) Is there a need for it? Before I left my dwindling spare time in the dust to begin writing, I had to see a need for my story. Like I said, there were already countless books on the shelves dealing with similar themes. Many of the stories I read when I was struggling mirrored my own disordered behaviors, but the authors’ physical image so greatly differed from mine that I often questioned the seriousness of my illness. While these stories compose a very real part of the eating disorder community, they are not the average image of an eating disorder. Not all women/men who starve themselves are emaciated, some aren’t even thin, but what they all have in common is a very serious disorder. If you’ve read my pitch for F.I.N.E.* at, you’ve heard me say that eating disorders are about physical evidence and that at a size 10, 12, 14, I didn’t have any. Feeling I didn’t fit into society’s image of what an eating disorder should look like hindered my recovery. Rationally, I knew I couldn’t be the only person who had ever felt this way and so it became clear that this story could potentially begin to fill a very real void.

When you have a partial manuscript in hand and are ready to start querying agents, this is the million dollar question so figure it out early.

2) Do I believe in it? I knew I had to believe in my project because if that intensity didn’t come through, I couldn’t expect anyone else to get excited about it. It’s similar to a job interview. If you interview with a prospective employer you must make them understand that the position they are offering is the one for you, the end-all be-all, your dream job. They have to know that you believe in their company, their work, and that you will join the company softball team. When you believe in your product, whether it is your skills as an employee or your 300-page opus, there is no halfway.

3) Am I willing to do anything to get my book into the hands of readers? A baseball nut I am not, but when I was deciding how much to throw at this project I thought of Babe Ruth. 714 home runs and 1330 strikeouts. I know, I know, it’s a tired quote but it still rings true: “swing for the fences.” I realized the only way I was going to be disappointed in the outcome of this project, published or not, was if I didn’t give it everything I had. I may not be a baseball fanatic but I do play poker, so maybe we’ll change that to “I’m all in.”

In future posts I’ll tell you how I zeroed in on my goal and found the time to make it happen. We all have busy lives, kids and parents to take care of, real jobs that pay the bills, but I’ll show you how I made it work.

What questions are important to you? I’d love to hear how you decided to start writing or what questions you’re still trying to figure out before you open that first Word document and start tapping away.

Up next: Too Busy to Write: How I found the time…

Podcast: A Peek at the Prologue

Posted in FINE: starved without physical evidence, Podcast on March 5, 2011 by Melissa Henry

As promised, I’ve joined the world of podcasting!

As a reader I’ve always enjoyed hearing an author read their own words and so I’ve decided to share mine with you. Soon you will see a new podcast RSS feed button over there by the blog RSS feed button, but for now you can visit my podcast page at: So download it, subscribe to it through iTunes…whatever works best for you.

If you have a moment, I would love to hear what you think!


Everything I Learned, I Learned at Workshop

Posted in FINE: starved without physical evidence, Writing on February 19, 2011 by Melissa Henry

The only writing class I took in college was “Writing in the Sciences.” In science, writing is fitting your words into distinct categories: introduction, methods, results, and conclusions, whether its a paper or a poster (think glorified grownup science fair pictured right…a presentation I gave on neuroarchitecture differences in autism…worlds away from creative nonfiction). For me, creative writing became about making those distinct categories disappear. No theatre-goer wants to see the wires attached to Peter Pan, and no reader wants you to tell them how everything connects. Readers want to discover your story, trust that they can, they’re smart people. The best advice I’ve ever received: show don’t tell.

To figure out whether or not people could “discover” my story, I took it to workshop. On a whim, I enrolled in a three-part, yearlong, creative non-fiction workshop. The course description promised their potential students a quarter on “How to get started,” followed by “How to keep writing,” and ended with “How to get published.” It was perfect. My whims are often so much better than my carefully laid plans.

For me, workshop became the litmus test, my little focus group filled with writers who would tell me whether or not I had the chops to write. But that wasn’t my first thought about the course.

Initially, my thought (an incorrect one) was that I wanted to be taught by an expert, reviewed by an expert. Even I had had an expert at my disposal, a bespectacled little being I kept in a box on a shelf, I would not have gotten the kind of feedback I needed. I am not an expert on every single subject, and I can’t expect my readers to be either. They’re going to be diverse in their understanding of my subject, in the kinds of books they read, etc. and to reach all of them, I would need to hear from all of them.

My fellow classmates were the experts I actually needed. They generated ideas and asked questions about my stories, highlighting what was working and what holes I needed to fill in. In your head you see the whole story, from the Technicolor landscape of your surroundings to the micro-expressions of your characters. When another reader misjudges the emotional valence of a scene, you know you need to go back and rewrite.

What surprised me the most about workshop was how much their writing informed my own and, I hope, vice-versa. We were all writing on different subjects and yet, the way another writer crafted a sentence or anchored their story to a world event, sparked ideas in all of us. Our experience was as diverse as the subjects we were writing on; we were all at different points on the literary craft spectrum. If I had only sought the advice of a single “expert,” I would have missed out on some really important stuff.

Now for a little news…

I’m excited to enter the world of podcasting and will soon release the prologue to my book FINE: starved without physical evidence! Follow me on Twitter or visit my site for the latest updates.


Many many more posts to come on my workshop experience but, as promised, up next:

Day Zero: What I had to decide before I started writing…

Website Launch for FINE: Starved without Physical Evidence…It’s here!

Posted in FINE: starved without physical evidence on February 12, 2011 by Melissa Henry

It’s here! After much consideration and preparation, I’ve launched the website for FINE.

Over the past year and half I’ve been chasing down a first draft of my memoir, FINE: Starved without Physical Evidence. I’ve taken classes, workshops, spent many many evenings with fellow writers, and had a blast while doing it, along with a healthy dose of anxiety.

This work began with the purpose of giving a voice to those who have struggled with a disorder that takes more lives every year than any other mental illness, and who had no physical evidence to show for their struggle. As a woman who had spent more time living with an eating disorder than not, in a normal-sized to over-sized body, I felt there was a very real need to explain not all eating disorders are visible. Feeling that I didn’t fit into the image of “sick” left me internally conflicted during treatment and ultimately hindered my recovery. It’s my hope that FINE will offer insight and validation for those who have experienced similar struggles.

Click over to my website at: and learn more about my book.

If you’ve recovered from an eating disorder and ever felt like you didn’t fit into the image of what an eating disorder should look like, submit your story.

I want to hear from you.

With permission, your stories will be posted on and together we can give voice to a very real issue so many of us have struggled with.


Many thanks to Prof. M-rock (dogged supporter, mentor, neuroscientist-extraordinaire, mommy of two, rockin’ snowboarder, and person I feel privileged to share genetics with) who encouraged me to honor my priorities. Much love.

The beginning…

Posted in Chatter, FINE: starved without physical evidence on August 19, 2009 by Melissa Henry

Welcome to my blog.  This year, on June 5th, I began writing a memoir.  I am not a writer by training but rather a scientist, cognitive neuroscientist to be exact.  I write about subcortical structures, genetics, and behavior and how they relate to neurodevelopment and disorders.  This book has nothing to do with those things. <Insert massive sigh of relief from readers here>  If I haven’t bored you to tears just yet read on, it gets more interesting I promise…

The night I began writing it was as if lightening struck and suddenly the idea for a book that had been rolling around in the back of my head was electrified.  It sounds too dramatic to be true but in fact it is.  There was actually a Eureka! moment in which I realized I had to give this a shot if not to publish the work than to at least get it out of my head.  It was such an immediate need that I started typing that night just after 1AM and have scarcely slowed down since.

To date I have made my way through about a third of it, much of which still needs to be edited down, but a good start to what is sure to be a crazy but interesting adventure.  This initial wave of material spilled out in coffee shops (many of which are pictured above) within the first month and a half or so, at what one could say was breakneck pace.  More precisely at break elbow pace, as it happened.   No comment.

After trying to type one handed with nearly nonexistent accuracy I decided that the right side of my brain was controlling my left hand and that all the letters from the left side of my brain (that controlled my useless right hand) weren’t making it to the page.  Defeat!

Ah, but now I see the light at the end of the tunnel and hope to be back to my little table by the window by the end of the week.  A return to early mornings and late nights attending to my secret project.

As to the scope of what is sure to be a wildly meandering menagerie of thoughts…this blog is meant to convey my convoluted writing process, the ups and downs and in-betweens.  However, I am open to it’s natural evolution and anything that develops beyond my initial intentions.

I’ll be posting a blurb about the book soon, check back or follow me on Twitter for the latest updates!

-The Snarky Lark

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