Pushing Boundaries with author Jenny Valentish at Bellingen Readers Writers Festival

Jenny Valentish is a journalist and the author of two books, appearing at the Bellingen Readers Writers Festival.


JENNY Valentish will talk about her latest book ‘Everything Harder Than Everyone Else’ on stage at the Bellingen Readers Writers Festival.

It is her second book and takes an immersive look at why some people push their bodies to extremes.

The book was borne out of her 2017 research-memoir, Woman of Substances, which was added to the recommended reading lists of various Australian university courses in the areas of addiction and psychology.

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Ms Valentish told News Of The Area, “There is a thing where some people who quit substances will put themselves into endurance pursuits.

“The need to push the body still persists and that was the genesis of the new book,” she said.

In each chapter she interviews someone who is pushing their body to an extreme.

Unlike her book Woman of Substances where her research showed a difference in the reasons women and men take substances, she found different pursuits can attract similar types of people, not necessarily by gender.

“For example, body building can be quite attractive to people with chaotic childhoods.

“It’s all about structure, proper counting of calories and it’s so rigid as well.”

She found the body builders sought relief and release and consistency.

“I shadowed two body builders, both female and it could be a coincidence but they both were sexually assaulted in childhood and had difficult relationships with their mothers,” she said.

“If agency has been taken away from you as a younger person the desire to take up space as an adult can present.”

Like her first book where she delved into the personal there is a bit of a memoir aspect to this book.

“I started training to be a kickboxer and wrote myself into one chapter: the fighter.

“The theme of the fighter’s chapter is about ego and anger and how to overcome them.

“I took kickboxing at forty four and found it was challenging to be told what to do and not be very good at what you do and constantly humiliated.”

Tickets are still available for the Bellingen Readers Writers Festival, running from June 11 to 13, at the festival website.


By Sandra MOON

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