Interview with Vivienne Cass Ph.D.

Why do you write?
I only write when I think I have something new to say. I am a clinical psychologist by training so of course I am interested in what makes people tick, what makes them behave the way they do. However, I seem to have a mind that often sees things from a different angle to others and when I think this different perspective is useful, then I am driven to write it down.
What do you mean when you say you feel 'driven' to write?
I mean that it's hard for me to say, "well, it would be good to write about that idea I just had, but right now I'll leave it and instead do something else (ie, relax and enjoy myself)". If I think the idea offers a new way of looking at things, or will help people understand themselves better, then I just HAVE to write it down. Believe me, there are plenty of times when I wish I didn't feel this way. Writing is still 90% sweat, regardless of how attractive the topic is.
Lots of people say they plan to write - do you think they should all have a go at doing this?
My first response is to say the obvious - yes, everyone who wants to write should definitely do so. But now I want to add something else, and that is: think about why you want to write, and what you hope to achieve from it. As a psychologist I have worked with a number of people who decided to write down their life story. This was a very cathartic experience for them, allowing them to think about all the different aspects of their life and how they fit together. In most cases these stories remained in the privacy of their author's bedrooms. That's exactly where they should remain because their purpose had been fulfilled. Should they have been published? In many cases, no. They were often not written well enough or the material organised in a way that gripped the reader's interest. So, my point is that I believe the desire to write and record our experiences is universal and part of our humanness, but the ability to write well is a skill to be learned and honed by practice. Some do it more easily than others, that's true, but the best writers are those who accept that writing is a craft that requires hard work, focus and determination. There are some days when I might spend several hours beavering away, only to find I have written no more than 3 paragraphs. And the next day I will sit down - and do exactly the same thing!
Who do you write for - the general public or an academic reader?
I write for both types of reader. My writing in the area of sexual orientation identity has been mostly aimed at researchers, health professionals and educators, so is more academic (see: www.brightfire.com.au/publications). My new e-book (A Quick Guide to the Cass Theory of Lesbian & Gay Identity Formation) is an example of this. However, my work in the area of sexuality in general is intended for both the general public and the professional community. My previous book, 'The Elusive Orgasm: A woman's guide to why she can't and how she can orgasm', was written for anyone who wanted to learn about this topic. It was also written so that a therapist or counsellor could use the book as a guide to how they might help their clients. It was an interesting challenge to write for both readership groups but it seems to have worked, according to the many positive comments I have had about this. I used this same idea - writing for both the general public and for professionals, when I created and designed my app, 'Explore Women's Sex'. The app includes, for example, two sex quizzes, one for professionals and one for the general public.
Published 2015-10-01.
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Books by This Author

A Quick Guide to the Cass Theory of Lesbian & Gay Identity Formation
Price: $7.95 USD. Words: 11,020. Language: English. Published: October 1, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Gay and Lesbian » Coming out
In this brief overview of her theory, Dr Cass integrates, for the first time, the many facets of her theory that have previously been dispersed throughout various publications. This book will be an excellent resource for researchers, educators and health professionals, both those new to the theory and those wishing to confirm their understanding of it.