Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi, I am Julie Ann and together with my husband and our two adult children, I live in the Illawarra NSW – a region traditionally known as Dharawal Country, the land of the Wodi Wodi people. I work from home as a medical transcriptionist in radiology.
When my children were young, I completed the Advanced Diploma of Applied Social Science.
My studies focused on grief and loss, and I have a specific interest in disenfranchised grief, especially as it relates to multiple birth bereavement.
My other interests include listening to music, writing poetry and nature photography.
What draws you to writing?
I am a visual thinker and have always expressed myself through writing. I began writing poetry in my teenage years. Consequently, it was a natural progression for me to keep journals through the years. Now, since publishing my book, I am also adding to my webpage blog week-by-week.
There is something about seeing words materialise in black and white in front of me on the screen that helps my thoughts develop. For me, writing (in whatever form) is an opportunity to tell my story, in my own words, in my own way and at my own pace.
Writing provides me with a safe haven in which to explore my thoughts, process experiences and draw on insights that I can learn from going forward. It is also a process that I find quite cathartic.
So tell us about your book …
My book is called From One Twin Mum To Another and it is my first published work, inspired by my experience in 2001 of a complicated, high-risk IVF twin pregnancy.
I use the word inspired quite deliberately because it is not a memoir. As a very private person, I felt more comfortable writing in the setting of psychology/self-help.
My book is intended as a guide, firstly, for newly bereaved multiple-birth parents as well as their social supports and their professional supports.
There is a strong emphasis on being self-aware about mental wellbeing in the context of grief and considers various aspects of support, self-care and creating something of personal meaning out of the loss.
Where did the idea come from?
One morning in May last year I woke with the thought, Today is the day I start writing my book.
As random as that thought was, I decided to run with it and see what might eventuate. Within six months, my book was written, proofed and published.
As for writing in my chosen genres of nonfiction/psychology/self-help, I have always been drawn to memoirs and autobiographies. There is something about understanding the experiences and insights of other people that resonates a lot with me.
What’s the story you’re trying to tell?
My message about grief is that it is:
- Firstly, complex and we need to have a good support network around us.
- Secondly, a necessary process that we work through for our long-term mental wellbeing.
- Thirdly, survivable – as overwhelming as it feels in the first few years following a significant loss, but as we change through the years, so too will our grief.
Having an unborn baby die has a profound impact on the expectant parents.
When that loss occurs in the context of a twin pregnancy, it is still a loss that needs to be acknowledged and grieved.
And what do you hope your readers draw from your writing?
In my introduction I wrote, “I want to reach out to you through the pages of this book to reassure you that you will get through this”.
I hope my book conveys that no matter how unusual their circumstance of twin loss feels, that they are not alone and they will survive their grief.
Whilst not a memoir, I have shared my insights from my twin pregnancy to provide information to my readers that I hope will be of great relevance and significance for them personally.
What’s your writing process?
When it came to researching for my book, a lot of my personal research included looking through the many things I had written through the years. Some of those writings dated back over twenty years and were adapted for Chapter One; Similarly, I adapted other old writings dating back some ten years for Chapter Two.
Of course, I also conducted research further afield at various points in writing my book.
When my living children were of preschool age, my psychology studies provided an opportunity to examine in depth the more complicated forms of loss and grief.
Conducting that research and composing each of the ninety-six essays was a wonderful learning experience in itself, which I am sure served to prepare me well in advance for writing my book.
My natural style of writing has always been to “free associate” my thoughts and that is certainly how I approach writing poetry and journals. This is also how I initially approached writing the book as well. With any concept in my mind, I would write what I knew and continue writing as much as I could.
I bought an A4 lecture book and every day scribbled thoughts into it, thoughts that would run in the background of my mind as I worked on the manuscript. I also had a pen and notepad at my bedside for those random 3am thoughts!
Once I had the bones of the first four chapters, I wrote, researched, rewrote and read out loud what I had written thus far and continued this process … sometimes several times over, slowing fleshing it all out.
Towards the end of my draft manuscript, I took a week off work and each day that week, I read my manuscript out loud, cover-to-cover. Whenever something didn’t sound quite right, I would go back and rework that part until it flowed.
By the fifth day and the fifth time I had read the manuscript out loud, it sounded and felt the way I had originally intended. That was when I was confident my manuscript was ready to hand over for proofing and subsequently also, publishing.
In researching, seeking permission from other authors, etc, I decided that it would be easier to just use my own original poetry – that way I didn’t need to seek permission to publish the work of other poets.
Likewise with the cover images, I used my own photos – again so that I didn’t have to seek permission to use the work of another photographer.
Tell us one thing about your book, or your writing process, that nobody else knows.
I must admit, this question had me stumped for a few days.
And then, in looking through my table of contents I realised a parallel between Worden’s “Four Tasks Of Mourning” (as mentioned in my Preface) and the first four chapters of my book. Obviously, this was not intentional during the stages of my writing, but very much a happy coincidence for me!
Worden’s first task of mourning is to accept the reality of the death and my first chapter looks at the complexity of life and death in a twin pregnancy and in contexts such as the prenatal appointments and creating a birth plan for both babies.
The second task of mourning is to feel the pain of that realisation and my second chapter examines what grief looks like through the eyes of the grieving parents.
The third task is to adjust to life in the face of the loss and my third chapter considers the support networks the grieving parents need to gather around them, as they slowly adjust in terms of their grief, and as they parent their newborn surviving twin.
The fourth task is to memorialise your loved one. One of the main points of my fourth chapter is that the parents create something of personal meaning out of their loss that they can carry with them as they move forward with their lives.
What are you working on next?
I am still working on this book, or at least, getting it out there – and it is in my thinking this year to create an audiobook.
A few weeks ago I hand-delivered a copy of my book to a young twin mum who lives in my neighbourhood.
As we sat on her lounge talking and playing with her surviving twin daughter, I glanced across the room to see her mother sitting in an armchair, my book open in her hands, quietly engrossed in reading.
The memory of that image makes my heart sing.
I really want for my book to find its way to where it needs to be – in the hands of grieving twin parents, as well as their social supports and professional supports.
As the writing of my book all happened within the space of six months, now I am playing catch up – making contact far and wide with health and mental health professionals who may, one day, have bereaved multiple birth parents in their care and, thus, may benefit from the information my book provides.
Who knows what my next writing project will be? Maybe one morning, I will just wake up and know that something new and exciting is about to begin …
When readers talk about you as an author, what do you hope they’re saying?
Firstly, that I have approached a complex and little understood area of pregnancy loss and presented it in a comprehensive way.
Secondly, that I have written in such a way as to invite everyone into the conversation about multiple birth bereavement, thus opening up the opportunity to talk about loss, grief, the importance of good mental wellbeing and of feeling well supported, both socially and professionally.
Any advice for other writers?
Believe in the message you are trying to tell. Be passionate about telling it.
For those times when writer’s block has you staring at a blank screen for any length of time, find a way to push through and tell that story anyway. Free associate your thoughts and you may find that this becomes your best piece of writing simply because you put more time, thought and effort into making it happen.
Finally, do you want to promote your book (where people can buy it) or any events where you might be featuring?
BRYANT, Julie Ann. From One Twin Mum To Another: An insight into the complexities of multiple birth bereavement. (2022) Melbourne: Busybird Publishing
My book can be bought direct from myself and I am happy to provide a signed copy on request. There is an order form for this on my website.
My book is also widely available online in both paperback and ebook formats and, again, I have provided links on my web page to the more well-known online stores, such as: Amazon, Booktopia, Angus & Robertson, Bookshop, Fishpond, Book Depository, Blackwells, Barnes and Noble, Walmart, etc.
My blogs can be read at the following links:
My website – https://fromonetwinmumtoanother.com/blog/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/OneTwinMum