Updated: Feb 28
by Dr Vanessa Atienza-Hipolito, Founding Member, The Brilliant Foundation
I was excited about writing a book, but I realised I didn’t know how to write! I dreaded essay writing! I grew up in Manila, and my mother tongue was Tagalog. When I was younger, I rarely spoke in English. I avoid talking to my friends and relatives from overseas, because it was a daunting task.
From pre-kindy to medical school, students were taught English. Our lectures and academic books were in English but rarely did I converse with classmates and friends in English. That was until I was exposed to the professional world. Working with Consultant Doctors and during medical meetings, we spoke in Taglish (mixed Tagalog-English). Even though English is my second language, I was not a confident writer and speaker. I froze with panic attacks whenever I need to present in front of colleagues, especially during Clinical Meetings.
So why did I even dare to dream of writing a book?
Perhaps if I did not relocate overseas, this dream would have never be on my bucket list. Living and working in Australia for the past 17 years gave me a lot of exposure and practice in speaking the English language.
In recent years I had been aspiring to write an academic book about my profession. I reached out to a medical professional who authored many medical books to guide me on this ambition. Together with him, we reached out to international publishers regarding a book proposal, but after a year of waiting for a response, it was rejected. Eventually, upon reaching out to other connections, we got a publishing contract in 2020. I was over the moon with the fact that I will soon be fulfilling my goal of being an academic author with a contract from an international publisher!
While composing my first draft, I suffered a mental block. I couldn’t write; I was empty with ideas! I was confused and upset, mainly because of the stock at the hand of thousands of radiological images and topics accumulated in the past years, and here I was I could not even begin my book. I was overwhelmed too, working full-time, a mum of 2 young kids, and aggravated with lack of sleep.
I had many nights just staring at the monitor of the computer, overstressed at how much work was needed to write a collection of breast imaging cases. Four months passed and I was able to write hundreds of chapter pages with photos of breast cases and descriptions of each image but without the discussion and teaching points. I was bewildered and at a loss. The publisher gave a six-month timeline, and by now I should already be in the halfway mark.
With a heavy heart, I decided to pause my project in May 2021. Although I never gave up on my ambition, I acknowledged that this project was giving me burnout. I felt lost, empty and mentally exhausted, devoid of inspiration and motivation in finishing this book within the 6-months deadline. Maybe it was not the right time to do it.
The feeling of exhaustion and tiredness set in, perhaps because I was not prioritising my health. I did not make time to exercise. I did not make time for my swims and runs which I enjoy so much. I felt guilty not moving my body but at the same time, I was also feeling guilty of not making time to sit down and write my book.
I felt disconnected from the project.
I decided to reach out to the publisher, submitted my request for an extension but unfortunately, this led to the end of my contract. I felt embarrassed and ashamed of myself. I forgave myself at a later date, which caused a paradigm shift, saying to myself that I will still be an author but not yet at this time. I am giving this project a pause, for another 2 years to write without any pressure, finding joy in authoring my dream book.
I prayed and surrendered my goals and dreams to the Almighty, thus feeling relieved and released from the stress, feeling at peace with my decision.
Global Girls – Find your thing
When a door closes, a window is opened. In June 2021, I received a surprising message from a group chat inviting me to co-author a book called ‘Global Girls – Find Your Thing’. This book is a collection of 11 stories of inspirational and amazing women. I felt honoured to be invited.
In this book, I shared my journey during medical school, radiology training and how I got the training position as a Fellow in Western Australia. I shared my challenges and lessons learned as an immigrant doctor from the Philippines, and how I managed my motherhood while working full-time as a trainee and as a specialist radiologist in the busy public and private hospitals/centres.
While writing my chapter for this book, I was nominated for five AusMumpreneur awards and was privileged to win 2 of them. This opened opportunities for me to collaborate with like-minded female founders. I was again invited to contribute to another collaborative book.
When I got nominated for the AusMumpreneur awards, I had to prepare for the interview questions which were in alignment with my book projects. This interview was instrumental and became perfect preparation for my book chapter writing.
Working on ‘Global Girls - Find Your Thing’ allowed me to self-reflect and acknowledge all the people who helped me in many ways in reaching my goals, to where I am today. I am so grateful to my family, relatives, friends and especially my husband, Glenn, who has always supported me during the darkest moments of my training career and everything I have embarked on since.
I am grateful too, to my mum and in-laws, they were here for 9 months taking turns every year to look after my growing small kids while I was working full-time- weekends and holidays, and while I was studying for The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists Fellowship exams.
Courage and Confidence - What it really takes to succeed in business
My second anthology book ‘Courage and Confidence’ – what it really takes to succeed in business, is a collection of inspirational stories combined with practical tools, tips and advice written by 24 Australian women in business. I am a co-author of this book and the only medical doctor.
My chapter deals with Self-Care and Self-Compassion. I share the importance of having a positive mindset and my story and journey on:
Personal goal-setting and my quest to be a better version of myself leading me to dream big in my career and my business. It has helped me PIVOT my profession and my business by applying the growth mindset principle.
The proceeds of the sale of this book will provide scholarships to The Women's Business School for female founders.
This time, it felt great to write my story.
I was writing the 2 books back-to-back. After finishing my chapter for Global Girls, I started writing for the second.
Prioritising Myself to be a better leader, better parent, better wife
Comparing 2022 to the past two years, I am now more focused on prioritising myself. My priorities are to make time for me to go back to my exercise, eat healthily, make time to relax and rest. In the past years, I preoccupied a lot with personal development books, audiobooks, podcasts, and webinars.
I was focused on how to advance myself, develop into a better leader for my office team, be a better wife and parent. The knowledge I got from these inspirational books gave me tools on how to direct and manage my time and priorities. It helped me pivot myself personally and professionally for the better.
These books inspired me to dig deeper into my WHY and purpose in life.
However, while writing the second book, I met a roadblock. I experienced mental block again. I realised that I was struggling to translate my mental clutter into words. I could not express myself by typing via the keyboards. But my “A-HA” moment came in our group chats or Facebook messages thread…they suggested recording my voice and then transcribing. Wow! This was an awesome idea, and very doable!
I know I can talk and chat the whole day about my ideas. So, I started recording myself to and from work or during my school run. Amazing! I ended up with 7000 words. Now I felt overwhelmed that I had to condense it all to 2500 words.
But Peace Mitchell Peace Mitchell 🚀 | LinkedIn and Katy Garner Katy Garner | LinkedIn from AusMumpreneur (@ausmumpreneur) • Instagram photos and videos and The Women's Business School: Overview | LinkedIn were to the rescue.
They gave us authors group writing sessions during the two weeks before submission. These sessions are 1 hour block time 2 x a week for us authors to zoom in and dedicate that sacred time to just being creative. Boom! It worked!
In addition, I was able to collaborate with my co-author Marika Gare @perthvirtualservices Marika Gare | LinkedIn. Marika and I helped each other to be accountable especially 1 week before the submission date.
For the past 6 months, this has been my motto from @GabrielleBerstein
“It’s your responsibility to share your great work with the world”
After our chapter edit reviews, sales and promotion zoom meetings and chapter approval and sign off, the pre-sales and social media promotions of our new book “Courage and Confidence” started on 17th of February 2022.
I am so thrilled to announce that our book 'Courage and Confidence' is being launched to celebrate International Women's Day on 8 March 2022 with a live online festival from 7 - 11 March!
Here is link of all 24 authors online events: https://www.facebook.com/events/478915277033979/
Come See Me Online
Tune in to see me live where I'll be a guest speaker on the author panel: https://www.facebook.com/events/478915277033979/
I will also be presenting a session on Breast Imaging: The importance of regular breast check and early breast cancer detection on Friday 11th of March 2022 at 11am AEST.
Here is the link to this event
To dream to be an academic author in 2020 and then being a published author of 2 anthology books in 2022 is really a BIG dream coming true indeed!
Edited by Josh Galvin
Copyright @ The Brilliant Foundation