Eat, Pray Love, self-indulgence and why YOU matter.
I LOVE Eat Pray Love. I loved the book, I loved the movie. I left my fiancé of eight years after reading that book, it was a life changer in many, many ways for me and I bought a copy for every woman I loved. Except every woman I loved did not love it back. I remember one of them saying 'this is the biggest load of self-indulgent shit I've ever read.'
Which, at the time, I thought was perfectly acceptable, because not everyone is going to love my book recommendations. I mean they should, but clearly they didn't. The thing is, that since writing SASSY, and having worked with over 55 women in the last year to excavate their truth and tell their story in book form, it's become clear that exploring who you are and trying to make sense of yourself through writing your story - which I believe is one of the most powerful super-powers we have as girl-kind - is often seen by people, men and women alike, as self-indulgent.
Originally, I had a publishing deal with a super-swank big-boy publisher for SASSY. It was all terribly exciting, we drank pink champagne and ate wanky small portion food to celebrate. Except when I handed in the manuscript, they wanted me to drop the personal stories, cut out the spiritual element entirely, make it less about me and instead make it more of a light-hearted life manual for girls. They were pitching me as a body confidence expert here and in the US, the next big thing. Literally. They wanted a size 18 'real' woman who talked about loving herself in car sticker soundbites. Except they didn't want real. They didn't want truths, most importantly, they didn't want my truth. The one in which I'm human and have shit days too. The one in which I know there is more to body confidence than looking in the mirror and telling myself how great I am.
So I walked away from that deal and the rather lovely offer of a hefty advance, because if we are going to have a full-on hot and heavy love affair with our sweet-ass selves, then we have to have a relationship with the whole of who we are, we have to align ALL of our SASSY - Spiritual, Authentic, Sensual, Sensational YOU - because when we do that, we can really begin to fully embrace the beautiful, imperfectly perfect, messy beings that we are in the world. Drop the Spiritual? Drop the You? What have you got? A big fat ASS. Which is all I would have been left with if I'd gone ahead and become the plus-sized body confidence poster girl they wanted me to be. So instead I set up my own imprint, SASSY Books, where I offer a place for women to share their voice and tell their story, their way.
I've just recently read Red, Hot & Holy by Sera Beak - you NEED to read that, that's not a recommendation, that just the freakin' law. She did exactly the same thing, her publisher said 'we can't publish this, there's too much I.' I want the I. The 'I' matters. YOU matter.
Books that have had the most impact on me, are women's stories. Their journeys, their adventures, their plights, their struggles. Anyone can write a five point plan kind o' book, but when someone shares their story and let's me hear my own voice, my own truth in theirs, that's when I grow. That's when we all grow.
Women's stories have been silenced for too long. Tell YOUR story.
I was told by the big-boy swanky publisher that what I had written was 'Self-indulgent, narcissistic and not relevant unless you're a celebrity' yet I have folders full of letters, cards and emails from women who will testify that their lives are a little bit more awesome because I told my story anyway.
It's up to us to re-write history, so tell your story. On your about page, through song, in a Facebook status, to the woman at the bus stop, in a tweet, in fact, write your freakin' book - don't hold back. because as Elizabeth says in Eat Pray Love, 'When you set out in the world to help yourself, you end up helping 'tutti' - everyone.'