My Dream As An Author is Now A Reality
Updated: Feb 28, 2022
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.