Story by Zoë Gipson, Reporter
Photo courtesy of Racheal Steil
Rachael Steil (Class of ‘15) is in the process of publishing her book, Running in Silence, a memoir turned self-help focusing on the dangers and stigmas of eating disorders. Steil spent five years at Aquinas as an English major with double minors in writing and communication, running track and cross country, all while working on her first book.
Steil shares that her story began at the end of her first year at Aquinas, continuing through her junior year. She then began her website (www.runninginsilence.com) in December of 2012, an extended blog that focuses on helping others, but has recently begun sharing the process of editing and publishing her book.
Stiel began the manuscript endeavor in the Spring of 2013, in an independent study with Aquinas’s beloved English professor, Dr. Brent Chesley. They cut the 140,000-word manuscript in half, to 70,00 words focusing on the dangers of orthorexia—the preoccupation with “pure” food.
“I went from an All-American collegiate runner with a secret to a girl clawing for a comeback on a 30-bananas-a-day diet,” shared Steil.
Orthorexia has been coined by society as a “lifestyle” rather than a diet, and sometimes can feel cultish. Steil elaborated on her journey and shared that her three-year struggle with raw food became less about her goal of a national championship, and more about approval and proving oneself.
“What began as towering plates of raw vegetables and mono meals of bananas ended in numerous rice-and-cake binges. What had been a yearning to prove myself to others, ended with a realization that I must find my self worth beyond the simple identity of running and food,” Stiel stated.
After spending years working with Dr. Chesley in and outside of the classroom, Stiel spent another year reaching out to agents, trying to get published with a larger company. She then worked with Professor Gary Eberle, Chair of the English Department and a published author himself, who directed her to contact small publishers directly for better luck as a first-time author. Soon after Steil was connected with Dean Robertson, who also worked at Aquinas for a time. Steil has recently hired Robertson as her Acquisitions Editor — Robertson helps edit at all levels (final line editing at this stage) while helping Steil to publish her book.
Steil will be hybrid publishing, halfway between traditional and self publishing. This process requires a fair amount of money but uses all forms of publishing (like self-publishing) and gives Steil the credentials and appearance (attained through traditional publishing).
Steil is now trying to raise money for publishing, about $7,700 for areas like cover design, publishing, distribution, line editing, creative design, marketing, and traveling. You can find her at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook under Running in Silence, and to donate at http://www.gofundme.com/runninginsilence.
Running in Silence ’s first fundraiser will be at Peaches Cafe on Sunday, April 3, from 12-6 p.m. Peaches Cafe will provide combination plates of delicious food for $25, with $10 of the proceeds going straight to the book. Steil will read two preview chapters and answer questions. She hopes to continue to have more events as the year continues.