Dr Stephanie Mitrano

It Takes a Village to Birth a Book

A story by Dr. Stéphanie Mitrano, FWOC Circle of Wisdom, and FWOC-The Netherlands. (FWOC Storytelling month June 2022)

18 months ago, I embarked on journey of writing and publishing my book, which would not have been possible without the graceful and generous support of several people along the way. 

 

What inspired you to embark on this adventure? 

I’ve been wanting to write a book for over fifteen years, probably since I started journaling, when I studied for my coaching diploma. I found some of my writings, thoughts, drawings, diagrams, poems etc. in the many journals and diaries I have kept over the years. 

During the summer of 2020, this need to get the book “out” of me into the world was so strong that I started putting ideas together. The COVID context and the summer break created a great opportunity for focus, being home, no travel, no distractions, no clients.  Even though I felt enthusiastic and motivated, I couldn’t write. Something was locked. I would create an outline and not be satisfied with it, or have one idea but did not know how to develop it. 

My pre-conceived ideas about what a book “should be” held me back. I was used to writing blogs for business, which has a certain tone in line with our corporate identity, and I had written a PhD thesis which is an academic and scientific way to share insights. My vision of what a book was, as an outcome was very much tinted by these past experiences, and I couldn’t get out of that.

Who was supporting / cheering / mentoring you? 

Ingun Bol, founder of FWOC, connected me with Yvonne Busisiwe Kgame, who agreed to be my mentor. Mom Yvonne is an experienced publisher, author, mentor who love and is passionate about storytelling. She inspired, welcomed, encouraged and gently nurtured my stories until they were ready for the world. This was so liberating. I started writing right away confidently without worrying about the final outcome and many offered their expert help: Jennifer the graphic designerVivien the Linkedin expertMargreethPamela and Anna readers of my first manuscript. Stef who connected me to a self-published author who inspired me and shared great tips.

What was the biggest challenge? 

The first challenge was to get started, but then other challenges came to me as book writing and publishing were completely new to me. I felt I had to navigate between doing it my way, authentically expressing myself and at the same time accepting expert help and collaborating to enrich the project. Finding that balance was not always easy, especially when people were strongly opinionated on subjects I do not master like publishing, marketing, or editing. At every step of the journey, there were questions, doubts and re-evaluations. I navigated the uncertainty all the way, even now that I am in the selling phase of the book. Discomfort became my friend. 

Not knowing with certainty if each of my choices was the “right” one, if following my gut feeling, my drive to get my words out was crazy, unreasonable or just what had to be done, was scary. 

I wouldn’t say I have completely overcome the challenge of dealing with uncertainty and discomfort, but with each choice came consequences. I believe I gained confidence in moving step by step without a big master plan. I trusted that I could make choices and change my mind. I also learned that help is present along the way. 

What value did you create for other?

My story-guided-introspection notebook called Unmasked, Loved and Empowered helps people move more confidently on their introspection journey, triggers insights, and encourages motivation to dive deeper into themselves even when it is challenging. It creates a sense of kindness towards our human nature. It also encourages people and communities to read the book, grow , encourage and support each other on a journey that is usually solitary.”

How are you integrating the learning in your day-to-day life? 

I believe that I am moving forward more slowly and yet confidently, I have integrated the fact that I am now a published author, I am meeting new potential readers with the same enthusiasm regardless of the number of books I have sold. It feels like one journey has reached its peak (the book now exists) and another journey is starting towards another peak maybe (who knows?). This journey has uncovered the new me which I am now sharing with the world and hoping to encourage others to bravely go on a similar journey.

Writing a book and sharing it with others was my lifelong dream, so it is very fulfilling to have achieve it. I guess it is part of my legacy. The physicality of the book makes it so concrete. I feel peaceful and content now, (it was more ecstatic joy when I received the books), quietly proud of myself, grateful for all the generous support I received and hopeful about the rest of the journey.

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