(Brilliant segue coming up –>) One of these friends is Gulara Vincent. Gulara now lives in the UK, but grew up in Azerbaijan. She joins me in the attic today to tell the story of how she met her father’s family, and how writing has helped her integrate the past.
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, Gulara 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 at her website, on Facebook or Twitter. You can also sign-up to her mailing list to receive compassion meditations and other support she sends out to her subscribers.
Writing as a Journey of Healing and Self-discovery
I started writing creatively in December 2011 to make a sense of my life. My parents got divorced when I was two weeks old. I never met my dad, and when I was in my early twenties, I heard that he died at the age of 44. For years, I tried to answer an impossible question: How would my life have panned out if we were still together? As I grew up, I tried to convince myself that I didn’t need a dad anymore. Except … I was looking for him in family photo albums and dysfunctional relationships. With time, I turned to therapy and other healing approaches. They took the edge off the pain, but that gaping hole in my heart would not close.
So, in December 2011, I decided to have a closure on this father thing. I went to my home town determined to find his grave, say goodbye, and set us both free. My grandmother promised to help but when I got there she said she hadn’t found his whereabouts. Disappointed, I walked to the town centre. Out of the blue, I heard my mum’s voice in my head, the words from the distant past:
‘You have an auntie who lives in the town centre. Her name is Tahira.’
Desperate, I went knocking on doors and asking after this woman. An hour later, a man greeted me in his front courtyard and said that indeed there was Tahira in that household. I couldn’t believe my luck. She came out, peered into my eyes and said:
‘You look familiar, but I can’t place you.’
‘That’s because we’ve never met. I’m Nizami’s daughter.’
She did something I hadn’t anticipated. She hugged me and cried tears of joy, saying she was waiting for this day for years. I asked for my dad’s photo, and she took me into the house. I walked in and nearly shot out. There were about 40 people, adults and children, celebrating, as it turned out it was my aunty’s 58th birthday. I was seated at the table and showered with questions, and … love. All the stories I’d told myself as a child about being unlovable were falling away. I was loved, it’s just that every story has two sides, and that day I had a chance to hear my dad’s side of the story.
I left their house transformed.
After I returned to England, I was floating on cloud nine for a week or two before I decided to write down every detail of that encounter. It felt precious and one of the defining moments of my life. Once I started writing, other stories started pouring out. I was trying to make sense of the childhood memories.
Nothing made sense anymore.
So I started writing my first book. ‘It’ll be about my dad.’ Three chapters in and the book changed its mind: it was all about my mum. I kept writing. I worked with a writing mentor for three years. Every month I sent her two 12-page submissions and I poured out several lifetimes of pain and trauma into some 300,000+ words.
Two years ago, I also started blogging. To me, blogging has a different purpose and energy. It’s about reclaiming my authentic voice, being visible and standing in my power. I’ve spent many years of my life hiding who I am and how I feel, so it was quite a stretch to start with. I wrote nicey-nicey—not much controversy, feeling the ground, and learning how to navigate the blogosphere.
I feel I’m up-levelling to a new stage and stepping into my power as a woman and writer. So, if being in the moment and inspiring someone out there was the primary purpose of my blogging, now it’s more streamlined and has a distinct purpose: in effect, it became a bridge between my writing life and the healing work I do with women writers. Given how intimately I know the pain of being on the writing path and all the years I spent on learning healing techniques, my blogging is now directed at supporting other writers. I’m using my newly found courage to speak about topics we’d rather avoid: disappointment, rejection, fear of failure, feeling ‘not good enough’—you name it. I offer an antidote to those uncomfortable feelings too—compassion, which may or may not suit every reader, but the offering is there nonetheless.
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.
If you’d like to write something for ‘Writers in the Attic’, let me know via the Contact page. The topic is what writing means to you, but it can be taken as broadly as you like. A length of 600-1000 words seems to suit best, and I offer a small gift as a thank you for your time. I still have a few spots to fill in the weeks leading up to Christmas …
If you’re stuck for ideas on what to write, I have a Q&A I can send with some prompts, so let me know.
A reminder to sign up for my Newsletter to keep up to date with the progress of my book in the lead up to publication.
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And there’s even more: Each new subscriber receives a link to my short story, ‘Metaplasia’. For free!
Could your day possibly get any better?