Nicole Bélanger’s new ebook, On Resilience, tells the inspiring stories of several amazing woman. We had the opportunity to talk to Bélanger about her process, her experiences and the personal impact the book had on her journey.
How did you come up with the idea for this ebook?
Nicole Bélanger: The ebook was born out of a project called Conversations With Her, a bi-weekly interview series profiling women and their fascinating stories. I started writing those interviews on a whim last spring because I was so overwhelmed with gratitude by all the amazing women in my life, and I wanted to tell the world about them! I truly believe that women’s stories are powerful and healing. They remind us that we aren’t alone and are new lenses through which to view the world and ourselves.
A few months later, I got the idea to write a special themed collection of these stories and resilience was just the first topic that popped into my mind. Again, the project was driven by a very simple goal: To collect and tell as many women’s stories as possible. At first, I was just planning to give the book away as a free download, but then a friend of mine said to me, “Nicole, your work has value, you can’t just keep giving it all away.” That’s when I decided to make it my first piece of paid original content. I figured I wasn’t the only woman struggling to value her work in that way, and I wanted to role model that for others.
What was your favorite part of the process?
NB: My favorite part of the process was getting to interview each of the seven women featured in the book. They are all stars in their own right. Some I have known and admired for some time, others are new to my life, but I have nothing but respect and love for every single woman in the book. I talk a lot about how I share these stories with the goal of inspiring people and helping others feel less alone, but writing them does the exact same thing for me. Each interview was like an hour-long hug.
What was the most difficult part?
NB: One of the most difficult parts was dealing with my impostor syndrome about charging for my writing. To give you an example—and I wish I was kidding, but this 100% happened—I was sitting on the couch with my boyfriend the day before I launched the book and I (only half-jokingly) asked him, “What if people buy the book and then think it’s outrageous that I charged for it and feel ripped off?”
From such an early age, we internalize the message that so much of women’s labor—emotional, physical, creative—should just be given freely to the world for the betterment of others, and ‘unpacking’ that for myself as I went through the process of creating my first piece of paid content was interesting, to say the least.
How did the stories of these women have an impact on your personal journey?
NB: The process of putting this book together was longer than I anticipated, and I found that I had some major peaks and valleys when it came to my motivation. It was the incredibly inspiring stories of these women that kept me going—stories like the one from documentary filmmaker Carlye Rubin who, along with her team, has been working on her second feature-length documentary for seven years, enduring constant rejections and no’s from funders. They kept at it, however, and finally got awarded a significant and prestigious grant this past spring that will allow them to complete the project. It’s hard not to get energized when you’re collecting and writing stories like that.
Is there a particular story that impacted you in a special way? What was that story, and how did it inspire you?
NB: Yes. Absolutely. One of the first women that I interviewed for the book was Lara Parker, a writer, editor, and a bit of an accidental women’s health advocate.
Parker’s story in the book is all about her journey with chronic reproductive health issues. During our conversation, I asked her about her experiences having to advocate for herself in the face of uninformed doctors and unhelpful insurance companies. She agreed that that has absolutely been a problem for her and told me that she eventually just had to learn to stand up for herself.
What Lara didn’t know at the time is that I had been having my own problems with dyspareunia (pain during sex) and that for a long time, I had avoided going to the doctor because I was so afraid of being dismissed and told that it was all in my head or that they couldn’t figure out the problem. Interviewing Lara gave me the shout of courage that I needed to finally go see my doctor. When I talk about how women’s stories are magical, healing things, I really mean it, at a very practical level. Hearing Lara’s story made a concrete difference not only for my emotional well-being but for my physical health—and I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only person that she’s impacted in this way.
How can readers find your ebook?
NB: They can find the book here. It’s a PDF download, which means that it’s super easy to read on any device.