Women Writing and God

I recently began reading the magnificent self-help book Women Food and God by Geneen Roth, which “…shows how going beyond the food and the feelings takes you deeper into realms of spirit and soul–to the bright center of your life”. The book is about how we use food to escape facing the pain in our lives. We eat mindlessly to push away awareness of the present.

I won’t be discussing my relationship with food here because I’d need about ten posts or ten years to explore that quagmire. Even my cat has food issues.

What I would like to talk about is my relationship with writing. I find myself focusing too much on reviews and sales. I want to go beyond the critiques — beyond the longing for acceptance — beyond the doubts and insecurities — to reach the “bright center” of writing.

Geneen Roth mentions the malaise we feel in the moment, longing for a change . . . the “When I Get Thin (Change Jobs, Move, Find a Relationship, Leave This Relationship, Have Money) Blues”. I’d like to add to the list the “When I Become a Bestseller Blues” and “When I Receive Critical Appraise Blues”.

On page 58 Ms. Roth writes “It’s called the ‘If Only’ refrain. It’s called postponing your life and your ability to be happy to a future date when then, oh then, you will finally get what you want and life will be good.”

I really identify with the “if only” refrain. How many times do authors think “If only I’d arrive, then I’d be happy”?

Once my book achieves critical success, I’ll make it.
When I get more positive reviews, I’ll finally enjoy writing.

I confess getting stuck in that mindless trap. I’m a review whore. I eagerly anticipate reviews of my novels, excitedly opening goodreads.com to see if new readers have found my book and liked it.

What I really want to focus on is the sheer enjoyment of writing — of translating murky visions in my mind to the paper with creativity and clarity. I want to focus on the process, on the now. I want to make myself laugh and cry as I write, and participate in the moment. I want to connect with the reader.

Breathe. Grin devilishly when I torture my characters. See the world from my protagonist’s perspective.

Why do we get sucked into “if only” land? For me, one reason might be my newness and insecurity as a writer. In contrast, I believe I’ve found a more mindful place in my psychology career, sitting with each psychotherapy client and thriving on our connection. I feel confident I can help clients with almost any conundrum they bring to the session. It helps that I’ve been practicing therapy for sixteen years.

I look forward to the time when I’m more experienced and confident as a writer, engaging in the experience without putting off my present enjoyment for that elusive moment in the future when I’ll “arrive”. In the meantime I’ll focus writing my next chapter in On Best Behavior, hanging out with Grant and Sophie, creating their world with love and hope.

One word at a time.

Lisa Sanchez and fellow authors invite you to join our Meet an Author Monday Blog Hop.

18 thoughts on “Women Writing and God”

  1. I love how you put the \”if only\” aspect in perspective. I think too often we writers do get stuckin a mindset of \”if only\” that one person reads my book and tweets it to the heavens but in reality that may never come. So it is much healthier to write the book of your heart and for youself, with time everything will fall into place. Gabriellawww.GabriellaHewitt.com


  2. Carol, howdy, neighbor! :DGabriella, it sucks to wait for a reality that may never come. Maybe we can appreciate the reality AS IS. *gasps* What a concept! Thanks for commenting.


  3. Thank you for an enlightening post, Jennifer. Some years ago I exited 'if only' and entered a more goal-oriented approach to life, with acceptance of certain basics as key (er, I don't have model-like legs to there and, er, never will). This came about after living in Europe for a bit. The thinking's so totally different I guess parts rubbed off.


  4. Kittie, how interesting. Do you think Europeans have a more mindful, accepting philosophy in general? I'm very happy for you that you're loving your body as without being weighed down by if onlys.


  5. We could \”if only\” ourselves to infinity and beyond. Even when one \”if only\” pans out, there's always another waiting around the corner to make us miserable. So screw \”if only\” — your \”here and now\” is looking pretty damn good. 🙂 A fulfilling career at which you excel, two amazing books published, a short story coming out this summer, and a third novel in which to lose yourself. You are already living a lot of people's \”if only.\”


  6. Kittie–meant to say loving your body \”as is\”. :)Nicki–thank you for your kind comments! I think we often compare ourselves to others and forget what we already have. So true that if onlys lurk around every corner if we let them.


  7. Wonderful post! Questions are always turning in my mind such as \”How about\” or \”What if\”. \”Only if\” jumps in there as well once and a while.Happy Writing!


  8. Such a lovely, honest post.“I won't be discussing my relationship with food here because I'd need about ten posts or ten years to explore that quagmire. Even my cat has food issues.” — *giggles*What you say is so true (and relatable to all areas of life!) It’s never a good thing place too much value on the opinions of others, or to look to other people for validation / a feeling of worthiness. Take it, for a moment, out of the context of writing: to rely on other people to make you feel good-at-what-you-do/successful/worthy is clearly unhealthy! It’ll take you, daily, on an emotional rollercoaster – wonderful highs and terrible lows. You have a very good idea there – to focus on living in the now; enjoying the process (remember why you started, and continued, writing).I can imagine that many authors place an inordinate amount of value on the opinions of strangers (the stranger, the better, no? then you know they have no other agenda). I want you to bear in mind that just because somebody is a stranger, doesn’t mean that their opinion is “worth” more than someone you already know. There are a lot of people with different tastes and world views out there – and chances are you’ll befriend / ‘click with’ people who share your values / world view. You have real talent, lady.Oh, and reviewers who have a blog and/or a gazillion books on their virtual shelves – remember that their opinions are (equally) as valuable as Joe Soap who discovered Goodreads last night.


  9. Liz, I think you'll enjoy it. Very thought-provoking. I typically do my reading on the exercise bike but this book requires too much focus for that.Tony, the author Geneen Roth mentions how her pets are all compulsive eaters too and that made me laugh, thinking about Izzie.My writing started as a very social venture so I think that might place even more emphasis on reviews and reader feedback. No doubt the readers have improved my writing, and I also need to stay true to my own vision.\”I want you to bear in mind that just because somebody is a stranger, doesn’t mean that their opinion is “worth” more than someone you already know.\”Excellent point! Thank you, Tony.


  10. Hi Jennifer!Thanks for visiting my blog… I have read about 1/2 of Geneen's book and loved it! I like how you compared ti with writing. I also love your photo with all of your books at the bottom… we have practically the EXACT same taste in books!! Is your book availabe via Kindle? I am now a brand new follower and will add you to my blog roll!LIsa


  11. I look forward to the time when I’m more experienced and confident as a writer, engaging in the experience without putting off my present enjoyment for that elusive moment in the future. This is useful blog for all of us.


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