LET’S TALK WRITING #10 with author, Dr. Gulara Vincent
Why and How I Write
I write because writing helps me to make sense of my life. Putting past events and traumas outside of myself allowed me to see my life with more clarity and to have more compassion for other people too. If before I saw only my side of the story, writing helped me to tap into the perspective of other people.
When I started writing, I had masses of resistance to it. I had a lot of sexual trauma in the past, which I kept hidden from everyone. For many years I was convinced that my life depended on keeping my past secret. Writing a book which involved unravelling what’s been hidden for so long was painful to say the least.
I remember having a self-imposed writing retreat for 10 days before I started working with Barbara Turner-Vesselago, my writing mentor, in June 2012. I wanted to write down the worst memories and events of my life so that they didn’t come up when I worked with Barbara. So much shame was attached to those events that the thought of being exposed felt unbearable. Yet my soul wanted me to write. It was not negotiable.
Writing now feels as natural as breathing. When I’m in my writing flow, I feel as if I am possessed (in a good way). I pray there are no interruptions and writing is akin to channelling information: it’s as if something writes through me. I just need to sit still in front of my laptop and allow the words to pour out. I don’t pause to re-read or negotiate every word. In those moments, I’m falling into the unknown, and don’t know where the story may take me.
In the beginning of my journey, writing brought up all my insecurities: fear of failure, self-doubts, ‘not good enough’ and ‘not-qualified-enough’ stories – the list went on and on. Every time I received ‘constructive’ criticism from my mentor or fellow writers, my inner critic showed its ugly head as if to say ‘I told you so.’
Although I seek feedback from more experienced writers, it can often knock me off the track for a while. What helps me to get up and keep going is the desire to share my story. It’s a powerful story, and has the potential to inspire change in other people’s lives. That’s why I’m so passionate about telling it well, even at the expense of delaying its release date.
My writing process depends on what I write. For the first three years of my writing I worked with Barbara, who taught me how to ‘free-fall’. Every month I submitted two 12-page pieces to her. That’s 36 pieces of around 4,000 words each. I once calculated that they came up to something like 300,000+ words. Some of those words needed to be written to clear the way for more important ones to come through; others are good enough to be included in my book(s).
The process of ‘free-falling’ was tortuous at first. I’m trained as a lawyer and for many years I wouldn’t commit a single word to paper before I knew what the entire article was about. With free-falling, I had to do the exact opposite. It required unlearning the ways in which I used to write and trusting that the right piece will emerge if only I’m willing to sit still and wait with a pounding heart for words to fly from under my fingers. What’s beautiful about that process though is that some of the memories that came up were not the ones I’d consciously choose. Yet they make a powerful narrative and enrich my book.
With blog posts, the process is less complicated. I still free-fall, but more intentionally. When I started blogging, I wrote what inspired me on the day. In the last few months, I’ve become much clearer on the purpose of my blogging, and my primary focus now is sharing my writing journey with others, with the hope that I can support other writers. Because my blogging is more focused now, I don’t wait for the ‘right moment’. In fact, just today I wrote the first draft of the next five blog posts.
It’s no exaggeration to say that writing has changed my life. I’ve got to know myself better, became relatively comfortable with sharing my story, and fostered connections across the world. Above all, I feel whole again, because I’ve taken the chance to give voice to parts which were hidden for so long.
© Dr. Gulara Vincent
Dr Gulara Vincent is a writer, university law lecturer and a Momentum Mentor for Writers. Her book proposal was a winner in the 2014 and 2015 Transformational Author Experience Writing Contest in the USA, and longlisted for the TLC Pen Factor Writing Competition 2016. When not writing or teaching, she helps women writers to release their inner fears and emotional blocks so that they can have a successful writing career. You can connect with her on her website, or on Facebook and Twitter @gulara_vincent.
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