Celebrating 300 Posts: An Origin Story

CELEBRATING 300 POSTS

AN ORIGIN STORY

Today marks my 300th blog post on Avocado Diaries. It feels like a monumental day for many reasons, but let's start with the name, since it's become a part of my identity over the past sixteen months.

Photo: Daniel Hearn

A question I'm often asked is, where did the name Avocado Diaries come from, and while I could keep the lid on it, it's actually quite an interesting story. 

In September 2019, I found myself at Masa Japanese Restaurant in Vancouver with my partner. It was our sixth night there that week, and as we grabbed what had become our usual spot in the corner, I had an idea brewing in my mind. 

Charlie placed his regular, and so did I. Two avocado rolls for me.

I was just days away from an eating disorder inpatient admission, and avocado rolls, in all their glory, were my only “safe food” at the time. 

I purchased the domain while we waited for our food, and was planning to keep a daily journal of my treatment. I was aware that as a man struggling with an eating disorder, I could potentially help other men by sharing what I was going through. 

The treatment turned out to be much more intense than what I was expecting, and I wasn't yet ready to process, or share publicly what I was facing. And so, the domain for Avocado Diaries sat collecting dust, and I didn't ever plan to use it.

Photo: Daniel Hearn

Fast-forward to February 2021. 

Enter bipolar manic episode, during which I shopped excessively and purchased upwards of 40 books. From what I remember, I didn't sleep for almost a week, and read at least one book a day. While reading, I made notes on each book, which eventually turned into reviews. I was posting them to GoodReads, and thought to myself that I should also start my own book blog and Instagram account.

While in high-productivity mode, which I am often during manic episodes, I revived this domain name and started Avocado Diaries.

Books and reading have always brought me a sense of comfort and made me feel good. They've provided a level of safety, security, and escapism I couldn’t find anywhere in the “real world,” and when facing anorexia nervosa and other mental health battles, books have become a medicine of sorts. 

I always had a passion for writing, and previously ran a fashion and lifestyle blog for many years, so the blogging came naturally. 

Blending my passion for reading with writing, most of which I did while hospitalized throughout the height of the pandemic, gave me something else to focus my attention on while also giving me another reason to get up in the morning and keep going.

It took a few months of pure perseverance for anyone to actually read my reviews. 

Unbeknownst to many, one of my earliest supporters was Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo, who kindly gifted me a copy of Chanel Miller's Know My Name

I had the opportunity to interview Reisman almost one year later, a dream come true for me.

Indigo | Heather by Joy von Tiedeman (Daily Hive)

With a background in publicity, I sourced out contacts at every major and indie publishing house to introduce myself and request advance copies of books I thought I might enjoy. 

Some ignored me, some said no, and surprisingly, some fulfilled my requests right away. Persistence paid off. 

All the while, I just kept on reading and reviewing as a distraction and coping tool to get me through intense therapy and admissions at the local hospital. 

Eventually, more readers streamed in, more publishers got in touch, and my followers on Instagram started to grow as well. 


@sean_writes

Last summer, I reached out to Editor-in-Chief of Daily Hive, Darcy Matheson, and pitched a summer book round-up article. I was both surprised, and a little anxious when she responded to let me know she was totally down with the idea and asked when I could submit. 

That day marked the beginning of my relationship, and my monthly book column, with one of our nation’s largest digital platforms. I’ll be forever grateful to Darcy and the team at Daily Hive for giving me a platform to share my love of books with an audience of more than six million Canadians. I also have the joy of writing about art, culture, fashion, and LGBTQ+ news. 

@sean_writes

At one point last year, I developed a keen interest in book cover design. I've always been interested in architecture, interior design, and graphics. Book cover design was uncharted territory, and I realized I was buying a lot of books to study the covers.

Curious to know more about them, and who was actually behind the jacket design of each book I purchased, I formally launched a weekly interview series called In Conversation With

It's grown to include book cover designers, art directors, graphic artists, authors, and writers, with a heavy focus on women in the publishing industry. I'm extremely lucky to have interviewed some incredible folks like Amy Odell, Martha Schabas, Nicole Caputo, the women behind Strick & Williams, and so many others.

I'm excited for what the future holds.

Charlotte Strick and Claire Williams Martinez

Towards the end of last year, my mental health hit rock bottom. I was hospitalized for the sixth time in a year, unknown to many of those who worked with me because I continued to read and churn out content. Knowing I had deadlines helped me keep my head above water. 

Someone was waiting to read whatever I was going to type. And that thought kept me going, despite conflicting thoughts of wanting to check out early.

@sean_writes

During my last inpatient admission last year, I enrolled in a college course to study mental health with the goal of using my learnings to become an advocate for men with eating disorders. The hope was that I could use my experience to empower myself and others like me. 

It was incredibly challenging to be in hospital receiving full-time treatment and to also engage in school part-time, but the course was fuelling my recovery, and I was determined to complete it. 

Since then, I've been using my voice as much as possible, as challenging as that can be at times. While hospitalized over the past two years, I spent a lot of time quietly advocating, and emailing hundreds of editors about the underreported issue of men's eating disorders, hoping that just one publication would hear me out. 

By chance, and completely unexpectedly, The Washington Post, one of the world's most well-known newspapers, printed my story.

Source: The Washington Post


Since the publication of my story, men and families from around the world have reached out to tell me the impact my words have had on their lives.

While I know I can't change what happened in my past, I now know that I can change the future for others by continuing to speak out and continuing to advocate.

Without Avocado Diaries, I don't think any of this would have been possible.

@sean_writes

At the heart of everything, my love of books remains. I didn't expect Avocado Diaries to grow into what it has become today. 

According to FeedSpot, Avocado Diaries ranks 16 among the Top Canadian Book Blogs, which is pretty neat. It makes me feel good that people can pay a visit to my blog and find comfort in a good review. I set out from the beginning to never write a negative review. That's not what this website is about. 

It's where I share the books I love and what I love about them. It's where I share interviews with talented authors and designers I admire, and hope that others can find inspiration in their words as well. 

Most of all, I'm so grateful for the community I've found through blogging. My friends on Instagram and my readers here, as well as the authors I've connected with all feel like family. I'm grateful for the partners and publishers, and the relationships we've fostered, and I look forward to growing together.

Of course, I'm grateful to avocado rolls, because they're the greatest.

Photo: Daniel Hearn

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