Guest Post: My Personal Journey as a Writer by Danielle Larsen

Introducing Danielle Larsen who shares an insight into her journey as a writer.

I never really thought of myself as a writer. Even now, with a published book, it’s still something I struggle with. I think it’s because I’ve always had this image in my head of what a writer is “supposed to be.” I picture Charles Dickens or Jane Austen sitting by candlelight hunched over pages and pages of handwritten stories. I see Jo March from Little Women feverishly writing into the night until her hand cramps up. I never thought that simply writing about myself was enough to consider me a writer.

Looking back, writing has always been part of my life, but it probably wasn’t in the way that most of my peers came to it. I was the teenager with endless journals and diaries, pouring my heart and thoughts into pages but struggled with writing assignments in school. If there was an opportunity for an alternate assignment that didn’t involve writing a paper, that’s what I was going to do.

When I was in college, my school had a habit of “personal reflection essays.” At the end of each semester, you had to write a paper for almost every single class reflecting on your journey and time in that class. Writing these small essays got me into the habit of looking inward and really putting my thoughts into something coherent. I fully believe this is what eventually led to my current blog, The Mindful Fight, which has been up and running for about a year and a half now.

But writing a memoir, even though people had told me that I should, wasn’t really anything that I thought I’d ever be able to accomplish. While writing any kind of book is a never-ending process of revisions, edits, and late-night writing sessions, when it comes to memoir writing you have to look so deep within yourself that the process itself is extremely exhausting. I knew that writing about my own story, which involves domestic abuse, would be something that would take a lot of strength and courage.

Even as I started writing, though, I doubted myself. The stories and words were pouring out of me, but diving into things that I’d long since buried was extremely difficult. I was finding that if a story was in my head ready to be written that I had to get it down or I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I spent many nights writing until the crack of dawn because of this. The process of tapping into these memories was exhausting enough, and I was burning the candle at both ends.

It’s been 6 months since my book came out and, if I knew then what I know now, I would have taken my time. I would have paced myself instead of subjecting myself to a constant flow of difficult memories. I had friends telling me to, but I simply couldn’t stop writing. This sounds like a good thing, but in hindsight it actually made the process harder. I would write a difficult story and then jump right into the next one. Then I would go back a few days later to reread it and it was like a severe form of immersion therapy: being constantly throw into the deep end hoping that I would swim.

Writing a memoir, no matter the subject, is something extremely personal and unless you’ve done it, it’s hard to explain how difficult it really is. Many people see memoir writing as self-indulgent and I simply don’t think that’s fair. It’s a weird thing to say, “Hey, this book is about me,” and hope that people will read it, but we wouldn’t tell our stories if we didn’t think they were worth telling. My story isn’t unique at all, but many abuse survivors never find their voice. I was able to find the strength to tell my story and my hope is that it can help others in similar situations find theirs. That’s why I called my book From Voiceless To Vocal because I went from being silenced to speaking out in the ultimate way.

As I sit here, with my book on a shelf over my head, it’s still hard to think of myself as a writer. Most of my peers are fiction writers and a lot of the time I feel as though I’m on the outside looking in within the writing community. It’s hard to consider yourself a writer when those around you are promoting their multi-book series and you have a 140 page book about your own life. But at the end of the day, I am a writer. I’m a published author regardless of what exists between those pages and even if I never sell another copy, I’ll always have that.

My advice to anyone struggling with their identity as a writer is to not compare yourself to your peers. Trust me, I know how difficult that is, but we’re all struggling with the same things. Even if you never publish a book or you have 20 by the time you’re finished, simply writing things and committing yourself to the page, regardless of whether others see it or not, makes you a writer.

Maybe some will disagree with that, but that’s part of being a writer too. Not everyone is going to love everything you have to say… but say it anyway. If you have a story you want to tell, tell it. Write the stories that you want to write because you love them and don’t worry about what might happen down the line. It might live in your computer forever or maybe you’ll become a bestseller, but you’ll know that you put those words down and that alone should make you proud.

Danielle’s inspirational memoir ‘From Voiceless to Vocal’ is available now and you can find out more information here.

Click on the book below to see my recent review and be sure to check out her website The Mindful Fight here.

Awesome Recommended Indie Reads

Ah, the reading, reviewing and recommending of books. The truth is I haven’t done one of these posts in quite a while and considering it’s Indie April, now would be an awesome time to share some awesome indie books. Let’s dive in…

‘From Voiceless to Vocal’ by Danielle Larsen

The first awesome book on our list is a bravely told memoir that highlights the journey of Danielle Larsen while focusing on mental health and her relationship with an abusive partner. These are sometimes difficult subjects to talk about but in this book they handled with grace and the story is ultimately inspirational. To quote my recent reviewThis book acts as guide in some senses to spread awareness while also informing others. The narration style feels natural and relays every moment with dignity and there are some moments when you cannot help but feel for a person who has been through so much…’

‘How to Market a Book: Overperform in a Crowded Market’ by Ricardo Fayet

We’re moving into book marketing territory now with what stands as a pretty extensive and awesome guide for authors. Anyone looking to seriously make a career out of their words can benefit from this guide which is basically a bunch of Reedsy blog posts packaged together in one place and a whole lot more. I came across this one via Reedsy Discovery as I have been a reviewer for their platform for nearly a year now. This one is definitely worth a look! You can read my full review here.

‘Deification’ by Brooklynn Dean

The newest release from Brooklynn Dean did not disappoint and according to twitter she is already working on the sequel. Using intimate description and a unique style this tale of apocalyptic proportions will take you places, they might be violent and brutal places but I could not look away. From the obvious symbolism to the lesser visible deeper meanings in this book, ‘Deification’ is an awesome encapsulating read. Here’s my full review.

‘Raven Woman’s Tavern’ by Laura Koerber

From the first line of the blurb I was already hooked and this book was right up my alley as they say. Set in a dystopian type future the story focuses on a small forest town as an aging and sparse population try to get by. They are disturbed when a group of younger Militia turn up and well, the Raven woman works her magic so to speak. I thought it was an awesome read and you can check out my review here.

‘Pestilence’ by Susie Kearley

Now the past year might have felt like the apocalypse to some but this book lays out in detail what could happen if a fungus could really bring the end of days. From the emergence of a new wonder drug to this fungus brought into existence by a warmer climate, Pestilence is a charmingly British but very well thought out read. Susie Kearley had this novel in the pipeline for thirty years and you can tell she has worked incredibly hard to bring it to publication. Although it is a longer book it doesn’t feel that way as the pages fly by. An awesome read and you can find my full review here.

That wraps things up for now. You can expect a new indie book review hopefully by the weekend. Thanks for stopping by!

‘From Voiceless to Vocal’ by Danielle Larsen – Review

Candid, brave and ultimately inspirational…

While many of the subjects in this memoir aren’t easy to talk about, Danielle Larsen delivers her story flawlessly and highlights the moments and events of a journey that makes for a gripping read. In this day and age the subject of mental health needs to be talked about more and this book does that. Being wrongly diagnosed at a young age ultimately paves the way for Larsen’s struggles while the main bulk of the story focuses on her being in a relationship with an abusive controlling partner. For much of the time it’s frustrating to see the abuse that unfolds – why can’t she just leave? Unfortunately it’s a little more complex than that and part of the journey is understanding that it’s hard to leave sometimes and breaking those shackles is difficult when the circumstances of gaslighting and emotional abuse are present.

“Normal does not have to mean good or comfortable, but simply what one gets used to…”

This book acts as guide in some senses to spread awareness while also informing others. The narration style feels natural and relays every moment with dignity and there are some moments when you cannot help but feel for a person who has been through so much – a lot of it wasn’t even her fault and you just want her to succeed in the end. There are even some brighter moments later on which highlight finding inspiration from musical theatre and how we all need to find something for emotional release. For Danielle Larson to share a memoir like this it’s incredibly brave and ultimately inspirational because the message is no matter how many chips are down you can always come back, there’s always hope and survival is probably the greatest gift we have.

5 Stars – A gripping and touching well-written read that bravely shares so much. Reviews left via Amazon and Goodreads.