Camille is a writer and nonprofit marketing manager living in Brooklyn, New York with her wife. Her essays have appeared in BuzzFeed, Narratively, Autostraddle, Catapult, and elsewhere. She’s also the author of Queer Disbelief: Why LGBTQ Equality is an Atheist Issue. Learn more about (Her)oics.
What made you decide to write this piece?
I wrote this piece to help me understand, process, and ultimately accept what I was going through: a recurring eating disorder, a dark depression, and a deep heartache about how to see myself as anything but a failure. I wanted to work through it and to create the opportunity for connection with anyone who might be going through the same thing. Healing is anything but linear. There are peaks, valleys, and devastating spirals, and it can be hard to make sense of those setbacks when you feel like you’ve already come so far. But in writing the essay, I had a reason to think clearly and intentionally about what I was going through and how I could make sense of it moving forward, and I’m proud of what I was able to do.
What is your writing life like? Do you write during the day, after work, etc.?
Writing is not my primary career; I work full-time at a nonprofit, so my writing tends to be confined to nights, weekends, and the occasional lunch break. I tend to go long periods without writing anything, and then I’ll get bursts of ideas that keep me writing for days at a time. Those creative sparks have been much harder to come by since the start of the pandemic, but I’m excited about what I’m writing next and hopeful that it’ll propel me to keep going.
Where do you see your writing going next? Any firm plans or upcoming publications?
I’m working on a memoir about my relationship with my grandmother, a Holocaust survivor and world traveler who shaped my understanding of mental illness, identity, and how we give and receive love. It sounds very heavy, but her life was actually one of joy and lightness; I’m planning to punctuate the chapters with her favorite dirty jokes, for example. No firm plans for publication yet, but I’m looking forward to writing it either way.
Why do you think people should buy and read the anthology?
We’re going to feel the impacts of the pandemic for much longer than any of us realizes. It’s crucial that we not lose sight of how this time has irreparably changed us and our world, especially for those folks already living on the margins: people of color, women, LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, and the like. Reading this anthology is another way of connecting to our shared humanity and ensuring we continue to show up for each other.
What is the theme in your piece and how does it come through? Is that an ongoing theme in your work?
Self-reflection and self-acceptance — and the challenges they open up, particularly in the context of mental illness — are ongoing themes in all my work, including this piece. Writing my story down has long been part of my process of coming to terms with who I am, what I look like, and the space I take up in the world. At the same time, I know that countless others are going through the same or, in some cases, much more challenging experiences as I am, and so I hope I addressed themes of compassion and community here, too.
How will your life be different than before the pandemic?
I hope I’ll be a more empathetic and giving person who can pay closer attention to how I can help someone else. And I’ll never again take for granted the things that I’m missing so much now: regularly seeing family, sharing space with loved ones, unmasked hugs.
More from Camille: Bylines in BuzzFeed, Catapult, Narratively, Autostraddle, Mic, In These Times, The Daily Dot, Patheos