SDSU Writers’ Conference Success Story – Ruth Leyse-Wallace Ph.D., RD

Ruth Leyse-Wallace

Ruth Leyse-Wallace

Ruth Leyse-Wallace grew up in Colorado, and earned her bachelor’s degree at UC Davis, completed her master’s degree and a dietetic internship at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She later returned to graduate school after 25+ years of clinical practice and was awarded her Ph.D. degree from the University of Arizona in Tucson.

“My career has been in psychiatric dietetics – substance abuse, eating disorders, and all diagnoses of mental illness in all ages. I practiced at the Menninger Foundation in Topeka, Kansas and at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital, among others. After moving to San Diego I also taught nutrition at Mesa College for six years,” Leyse-Wallace adds.

During these years, she collected journal articles and other information from numerous sources that pointed to the effects of nutrients and nutritional status on various aspects of mental health. Leyse-Wallace strongly felt that the material needed to be collected and published for easy access by the nutrition and mental health care-giving communities. She says, “When I retired from clinical work and teaching it seemed like a perfect opportunity to go through my files, utilize the Internet search capacity, and start writing. I had not written or published much so I joined the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild and attended the SDSU Writers’ Conference to get started.”

Attending the 2006 SDSU Writers’ Conference gave Leyse-Wallace inspiration from other writers who had written books and information about how publishing was accomplished. “The speakers were practical and lent reality to the whole possibility of being able to get my ideas out into the world. I learned about different kinds of publishing, something about marketing, and qualities of good writing, to name a few topics presented; I just soaked it all in. Other writers and the speakers can keep your writing efforts energized. What they do and how they do it can give you lots of ideas. Just go, and join in. You will get more out of it than you anticipate,” she says.

After many years, Leyse-Wallace felt a strong desire to first make her dissertation work available, and to share what she found in scientific literature about the association of nutrition with mental health, with those who would be interested or needed to know. Leyse-Wallace felt she could meet a need. She adds, “Nutrition is of interest and mental health is such an important part of life that I still feel that collecting and organizing selected scientific literature is a contribution I have been pleased to make. I started by self-publishing a book that is the reader-friendly version of my Ph.D. dissertation, The Metaparadigm of Clinical Dietetics: Derivation and Applications. The writing and publishing went well, so I went ahead with Linking Nutrition to Mental Health. I self-published it in paperback and it was enthusiastically received by my dietetic colleagues.”

After meeting the Taylor and Francis CRC press representatives at a professional conference, they requested Leyse-Wallace submit a book proposal, which she wanted to organize by mental health topic rather than nutrition topic. “I felt this would make the contents more accessible to mental health professionals, and non-professionals. They accepted the proposal and I began writing Nutrition and Mental Health, which was published in hardback and as a digital book this year (2013),” says Leyse-Wallace.

Regarding the SDSU Writers’ Conference, Leyse-Wallace says, “When you write, you write alone. Hearing ideas and stories gives you new ideas that you may use later, if not sooner. There is a lot to be said for knowing that other people have the same questions and offer some possible solutions. As president of the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild and editor of the newsletter for the past two years, I have publicized the SDSU Writers Conference at our meetings and in our newsletter and encouraged members to attend. It’s such a satisfying feeling to see something you labored at finally in book form and realize other people are reading it and finding it helpful. It keeps me at the keyboard. There is nothing like being in a room of people who aspire to writing and publishing, who really know the experience, just like you.”