Training to write

Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Kate Larsen

Photo of Sarah Vincent
Sarah Vincent

Those of us who write or work in literature exist within a world of words. But sometimes words still fail us. Like when WV's own Sarah Vincent asked me to launch her lifestyle memoir, ‘Death by Dim Sim’.

I was proud to be there for the latest step in her journey, having worked alongside her almost from her very first sit up, through all the cupcakes she resisted along the way, and finally through to the finished, published book that we can all hold in our hands.

Sarah always wanted to be a writer. “I wanted to create people who were brave (unlike me), had friends (unlike me) and were the champions of their own lives (totally unlike me),” she wrote of her childhood. “But my desire to write wasn’t just because I longed to say clever things on the page to compensate for the fact that in real life I was tongue-tied and shy.”

She loved words, she says.

“I loved smashing them together or letting them slip and slide over each other. I loved beautiful words like lilt. I loved hard words like kerb. I loved ugly words like mackerel and silly words like mushroom. I loved hooking them together like carriages on a train and sending them down the track to see how fast they could go or how high they could climb. But mostly I loved being in control and having things make sense, because in real life I had no idea what I was doing and had no control over anything.”

So write she did. ‘Death by Dim Sim’ is funny, unflinchingly honest and wonderfully easy to read. And I think it outlines a lifestyle approach as applicable to writing as it is to losing weight: the commitment, the focus, the hours after hours of putting a pen onto the page. Of knowing what you want and changing your life to make it happen.

In the book, Sarah quotes her trainer Mischa: “Train [or write, as the case may be] when you’re tired. Train when you’re injured. Train when you can’t be bothered, then when you get in the ring to fight and you’re tired, injured and can’t be bothered, you can still fight.”

The book itself is a love letter from Sarah – to her husband, her family, to learning to love herself, and to writing - one of the things that kept her going.

In fact, when she writes about her brush with cancer, she says that her “third thought in that doctor’s room was that I couldn’t die yet because I hadn’t published a book.”

Now, published and healthy, that writing is a gift. ‘Death by Dim Sim’ already made me think differently. About food. About the diet industry. About friendship and and love and the things that we hide from the world and from ourselves. And not least about the way she has shared her personal approach to changing her life - which I’m sure will resonate and provide reassurance for many.

Congratulations, Sarah.

About Kate Larsen

Kate is the Director of Writers Victoria.