Life Lessons, This Writer's Life, Up Close & Personal, Writing

The Writing Journey: Persistence Matters.

Free image courtesy of Pixabay.

In November of 2019, I self-published my first short story. Since then, I have published two more short stories and recently published my first novella, the first in a series. I have learned a few things along the way, and being an author is an occupation where you are always learning. But I think one of the biggest things I’ve learnt is that indie publishing is not for the faint of heart.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the most determined and obstinate people you will ever find (just ask my husband), but one of my biggest weaknesses is comparing myself to others. I’ve been telling myself (and you here on this blog), that everyone’s writing journey is different, and this is my way to remind myself of this reality. In her book Dear Writer, You Need to Quit, Becca Syme has an entire chapter on the subject – ‘Quit Trying to Be Like Everyone Else.’ It’s good to know that there are other people out there who feel the same way I do. Even though my husband has been telling me this for years, I guess I needed to also hear it from others.

However, back in September 2020, things started to fall down around me. Despite being in a network of other writers, I felt alone. Even though they are lovely people whom I’m happy to have as writing friends, it began to dawn on me that they were not my ‘tribe.’ What I write does not necessarily gel with theirs. I started to pull away and even though I published another book of short stories a couple of months later, I began to go through one of the longest bouts of depression I have ever experienced.

Throughout this period and into a new year, I spent months setting up and sending out newsletters, and preparing my first Gothic novella for publication. I wondered what the point was because nobody cared, no-one was interested. I felt like a complete failure, but I persisted. As recently as April, a month before publication, my husband told me that if I wasn’t enjoying it anymore, then don’t do it. Do something else. I couldn’t stop because writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do. ‘This is me,’ I told him. ‘This is who I am.’ He just didn’t get it.

I like to keep this quote on my desk as a constant reminder.

It was also around this time, that something started to happen, a kind of shift. A fellow writer put me onto David Gaughran’s course ‘Starting from Zero.’ As I prepared my next book for its release, I began to use what he taught me. Shortly after release, a Facebook friend sent me a request to join a group for indie horror writers. From that group, I was asked to participate in a competition for Gothic writers, as well as join a group for Gothic readers (which also included writers). I had finally found my ‘tribe.’

Together, these two incidents, helped make the launch of The Curse of Marsden Hall, my most successful. It reached as high as No.4 in one of its categories on Amazon Australia and was one of its ‘hot new releases.’ This then helped one of my other short stories, First Christmas, reach No.2 (yes, you read that right) in one of its categories on Amazon Australia.

A rare moment of seeing two of my books side by side in the Top 20.

Of-course such a high is short lived and it was a good couple of weeks while it lasted, but it gives me hope that maybe – just maybe – things might be starting to change on my writing journey.

For eight months I struggled with self-doubt and depression, but it was also a journey of self-discovery. I’ve learned who I am as a writer, both in my genre and my process. I’ve come to the conclusion, that although I may not become a big name, what’s important for me is the writing itself, and making my readers happy. Who knows, I might become an ‘overnight success’ by the time I’ve published my 20th book! 😉

Yes, I’ll continue to doubt myself and make mistakes along the way, but I’ve managed to overcome this hurdle. Persistence (and a healthy dose of stubbornness) pays off.

Being an indie author is hard work but there’s no point in worrying about things out of your control. Keep showing up and put yourself out there. Have fun, and love what you do!

It’s been some months since I last posted about writing and my writing journey (and reading this post, you’ll understand why). This hasn’t been an easy post for me to write, but I do so because I prefer to be honest with you and maybe help others who are struggling with their own writing journey.

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IWSG, This Writer's Life

ISWG: Did You ‘Know’ You Wanted to be a Writer?

Happy New Year everyone! Welcome to another year of reading, writing, and blogging.

Did you just suddenly ‘know’ you wanted to write? My writing journey did not start with a particular book, movie or story; that would come later. No, my writing journey started simply by attending school. In primary school, one of my favourite things to do, was when the teacher wanted us to write our own story (or comprehension as we knew it) as a special project.

Whenever we were asked to do these, I would get an inner thrill, my imagination would take hold and I was always eager to begin writing. I remember receiving good marks on a story about a slater (of all things)! I remember it was about a family of them and the father was killed by someone stepping on them. I guess I had morbid thoughts even back then. 😉 In sixth class, we needed to write a story set during the Australian gold rush, and I wrote it out neatly in an exercise book, where my mother did the cover art. I even had a poem pinned to the school noticeboard for everyone to read. I was embarrassed by such attention.

I was about ten years old when I remember I was talking to my teacher one lunchtime. I don’t recall exactly what we were talking about, but it must have had something to do about my writing because I thought to myself how great it would be to write stories for a living. That was my moment; that was when I knew I wanted to be a writer.

Uncle Fester was always a favourite. 😉

As I grew older, despite having a family that mocked my writing aspirations, I continued to persevere. I learned how to touch-type, did courses by correspondence, read writing magazines whenever I could and joined professional organisations. It wasn’t until I met my husband and left home that I began to feel comfortable with who I truly am.

It took a long time to get to this point (insecurity being my biggest hurdle), but I am finally published. It’s taken a lot of persistence and hard work to be able to call myself a writer. I have always been one really; it’s just taken me a long time to own it.

Did you always ‘know’ you wanted to be a writer? What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story or series? Was it a teacher/friend/coach/spouse/parent?

The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Main image courtesy Pixabay


Is Your First Piece of Writing Gathering Dust?

mortality-401222_640It was some years back in the early 90’s when I decided to summon my courage to send my writing off for publication. At the time, I had been writing for many years, purely for a pleasurable hobby and during High School I had let some of my friends read what I’d written. All the time though, I had it in the back of my mind to be published; I always had a dream of being a published author.

After leaving High School I did some correspondence courses on writing and had written some incomplete stories, but I really wanted to try my hand at writing a short story to get it published in a magazine. It was then that I wrote my first ghost story. I was working full time and let a co-worker whom I trusted to read it. ‘You wrote this yourself?’ she asked, clearly surprised that I had done so. Now, whether she thought that was a good thing or a bad thing, I’m not sure, but she seemed to think what I had written was alright and I sent it off to a popular Australian women’s magazine.

The wait was excruciating and I can’t recall how long I ended up waiting, but in the end I eventually received a form letter in the mail with my story returned. I admit I wasn’t too happy, but when I read my story again I was horrified; with new eyes I realised my mistake. It wasn’t as good as I thought; clearly I had more work to do.

I sent my work out when I wasn’t ready and looking back, I now know that I wasn’t completely confident enough within myself at the time either (perhaps I was also aiming too high to begin with). It has proven a great learning experience though and that piece lies amongst many of my other papers hidden away somewhere, gathering dust. I keep it as a permanent reminder of just how far I’ve come.

What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay






















Up Close & Personal, Writing

Writers: Embrace the Moment.

crossfit-534615_1280Recently I’ve discovered that one uses similar paths when it comes to writing and losing weight. Both require self-motivation, persistence, determination and a lot of hard work.

A few years ago I joined one of those more well-known weight loss programs. Within six months I had lost ten kilos (22 pounds). It was difficult to keep eating certain foods (especially to keep off the chocolate!), smaller portions and exercising every single day, but the rewards were well worth the effort. That was until I had completed my weight loss program. My husband’s response was simple: ‘That’s good’, he said. ‘Keep going’. Between his words and being on my own to maintain my weight, needless to say, I put all it all back on again (and then some 🙁 ).

I had discovered the hard way that diets don’t work. People are always looking for the ‘quick fix’. Like diets, some people who say they want to be writers are not prepared to put in all the hard work and effort. They are not in it for the long haul – they are the ‘wannabes’ (and yes, I’m giving myself a good pep talk here, too).

Now I understand what my husband meant. I had made a good start, now I had to keep at it; this is where the hard work really starts. I had lost the weight, now I had to stay healthy. In order to do that I needed to be self-motivated and persistent in order to make sure all the work I had done had not been wasted.

If we’re really serious about writing, we don’t want to be lumped in with the ‘wannabes’. Less talk, more action. If we are doing something we enjoy, then we should make the most of every minute of it. Enjoy each step, even if at times, they may be slow. To be successful at our craft involves a lot of patience as well as hard work. It takes time to build publishing credits, become traditionally published and gather a loyal following. That is what will make all that time and effort all the more rewarding.

When your calf muscles cry out for mercy as you struggle up that hill, push yourself just that little bit further. No job worth doing will be easy. Just keep going.

Are you embracing where you are currently in your writing endeavours? Are you fed up with feeling like a ‘wannabe’ and afraid to make that first step?

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* I’ll be taking a short break from blogging during the Christmas/New Year period. I will be back on 14 January, 2015. Enjoy your Christmas everyone and have a safe and happy holiday season!

This Writer's Life, Writing

Keep the Dream Alive.


I’ve been away for a few days – a combination of my birthday and our 20th wedding anniversary. Our accommodation was our dream home in our dream location. During every birthday I contemplate what I’ve achieved so far and what my future goals are – this birthday doubly so. This eventually made me think what dreams are the most important to me.

We dream because we really want something. We then have to set ourselves goals in order to help achieve those dreams. We’re told to dream big and big dreams can mean big goals – as long as we have the persistence and determination to see it through, as well as an awful lot of hard work. Our success in achieving our dream is a result of how badly we want it.

When I was younger, my dream was to become a writer, but now I realise I always was a writer. The difference is simply to either be a writer or a published writer. I have always had more than the one dream, but it has always been a matter of priorities. Sometimes we have to sacrifice our other dreams for the one that is the most important to us. Yet, who knows? The dream that is of the utmost importance may lead us to those other dreams, therefore making that one really big dream all the more valuable.

Just like coming back from any holiday, it’s hard to get back to reality. The reality is that to become published, we need to put in the hard work. These days with the rise in self-publishing, having such a dream can come true. If we dream long enough and work hard enough, anything is possible.

Have you always dreamt of being a published writer? What other dreams do you have? Have you ever had to sacrifice some dreams for others?

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This Writer's Life, Writing

Between a Rock and a Hard Place.

cavesenterance3smallAs new writers, we tend to be insecure and therefore focus on the negative; those people who try to persuade us not to pursue the life of a writer. Yet, we need more people who try to do the opposite; those who believe in us and encourage us to be who we really are. With my friends in the U.S.  approaching Thanksgiving this month, I felt it only appropriate to think about those who support us with our writing endeavours.

In high school, I used to write stories and give them to my friends to read in instalments. I guess you could say they were my first beta readers. Yet it was not until I met my husband that I had found someone who strongly believed I should pursue writing and take it more seriously. He was the first person I trusted to tell about my writing, without feeling ashamed of having that ambition. In fact, he thought it was a great idea!

In recent years, my writing group has disbanded, and although we didn’t meet very often, I managed to take some positive comments from them regarding my work. One man’s comment I will never forget. He said ‘You’ll get published one day; it’s just a matter of when’. These days, my husband is the lone driving force behind my writing (perhaps a large part of that is his plan for early retirement once I write my ‘best seller’ 😉 ) .

My husband likes to remind me of the small successes I have already made, as well as telling me that others have given positive comments on my writing. It is his support, more than anybody else that I rely on. He was the first to encourage me every step of the way, and continues to do so – even emailing me motivational quotes. My husband is prepared to be the sole bread winner while I try to make a success out of writing. I owe it to him to persevere.

As each of us work our way towards our own writing journey, we owe it to those people who stick by us. Sometimes they tend to believe in us better than we do ourselves! We need to put in the hard work and persist in putting our writing out into the world. We don’t know unless we try.

Do you have a good support group? Who is your ‘rock’? Have you ever received positive feedback that helps keep you going?

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A Writing Hiatus – Is it Worth It?

Gerry smallOne of the golden rules of writing is to write every day, yet sometimes, we may suffer from ‘information overload’ or there is so much happening in our home lives that we need to take some time away from writing.

Within the last few months, I have taken a writing hiatus (and therefore a blogging hiatus). I needed to step back from writing to assess exactly what my goals were. There was no point in writing if I didn’t know what they were, let alone what kind of writing I enjoyed the most.

By taking this recent hiatus, I soon discovered these three things:-

1. Taking a break helps clear the head

These days people are busier than ever. With the introduction of the internet and social media, we tend to suffer from information overload. Unplug for a few days and you’ll notice a difference. You’ll feel less stressed and much happier. A change of scene or simply exercising, like walking, can be very beneficial. It helps you reassess what’s important, what your goals are and what steps you can take next to achieve those goals.

2. A break helps you come up with new ideas

While we’re busy with writing projects, sometimes when we try too hard to come up with new ideas, we can hit a wall. Taking time out from writing helps you to come up with new writing ideas. When they come, don’t hesitate to write them down. Getting new ideas is exciting and helps keep you motivated.

3. Taking a break solves problems in existing WIPs.

If you’re struggling with a few plot holes, a writing hiatus can help. Again, thinking too much on how to solve these problems can stall the writing process. It’s best step away and have a break. The answers generally come once we allow our subconscious to take control.

When was the last time you took a break from writing? Do you find taking a break from writing a help or a hindrance?

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This Writer's Life, Writing

Calling Yourself a Writer.

IWSG Calling Yourself a Writer

A few short months ago, I put in for some casual work at my old employer, only to be knocked back. Upon seeing some of the people I used to work with, one of them asked what I was going to do now. Instead of simply telling them I was going to write, I kept quiet.

On this blog and on other forms of social media, I call myself a writer, yet I find it difficult to tell anyone outside of that. Social media is safer; you can ‘hide’ behind your keyboard and nobody really knows you anyway. When you’re taking that big step from being a hobbyist to professional it can be very daunting. Self-doubt begins to creep in; calling yourself a writer with nothing or very little to show for it makes you feel a fake, a phoney, a fraud. Telling others you’re a writer in the pre-published stages can either result in a lack of interest once they realise you haven’t published a book or lack of interest because they feel you’re wasting your time.

The good news is that by telling people you’re a writer during the early stages not only holds you accountable, it also means that you’re committed to give it your best. I’m gradually coming to the realisation that it really doesn’t matter what other people think. For a long time I’ve gone along with what is considered ‘acceptable’ in our society when it comes to employment. Not everyone has dreams, but for those of us who do, we are entitled to at least try. Fear can hold many people back and we admire those who succeed in reaching their dreams. If you write, then yes, you are a writer. Calling yourself a writer begins with you – name it and claim it.

Do you have trouble telling others you’re a writer? Do you find it easier to be yourself behind the keyboard? Are you a hobby writer aiming at being professional? What have you done or are currently doing to reach your dreams?

 Image via Wikimedia Commons.

University, Up Close & Personal

Graduation and The End of Study.

GraduationAfter several long years, my University studies are finally over and well and truly behind me. On 21 March, I attended my graduation ceremony. It was a day that held mixed emotions for me; I was so nervous I was dreading every minutes of it, yet wanted it over with at the same time. I felt so uncomfortable, and having to wear the outfit and hat didn’t help (at least I wasn’t alone in that – I could look silly along with hundreds of others)!

My husband insisted I attend and I’m glad he did, for I know I would regret it if I didn’t. Graduating like this was something I would never do again, as I have no intention of furthering my studies. I received a degree I did not require to further my career; I studied because I simply wanted to. Years ago I wanted to study for a Bachelor of Arts, yet family members mocked it, labelling it a ‘Bachelor of Bludging’. Certainly there were some subjects during the course of my studies that I didn’t find too difficult, and I can see how the arts are perceived, yet I was not satisfied with cruising through University. If I was going to study, I was going to do it properly and work hard to earn that degree. And I did. In all twenty-four subjects, I only received one pass; the rest were credits and above. I studied because I was interested in learning and I wanted to further my writing skills, as well as learning to discipline myself and work to deadlines. My studies were completely online – never once did I attend lectures like my husband. Writing is a solitary occupation; studying in this way helped prepare me for the future.

Sitting and waiting in the back row.
Sitting and waiting in the back row.

It wasn’t until almost two weeks later, that the reality really sunk in. I had never realised until I was home alone for a few days just how much time I had devoted to my studies. It has been a lot of hard work and it has certainly been rewarding. I feel that my writing has become stronger by it – so much so a lecturer once asked if I was going on to do my Masters. Writing full time is going to need the same amount of discipline and hard work, but through my studies, I know I can do it. Sometimes, we don’t know what we can achieve unless we really try.

What have you done that you felt you really had to work hard for? Do you struggle with discipline? Have you ever done something that others have mocked you for?

Images by Debbie Johansson

I’ll be taking another break from blogging and will return on 29 April. Happy Easter everyone and I hope the Easter bunny is good to you all! 🙂

Life Lessons, This Writer's Life, Writing

One of Life’s Little Detours.

Destinationroad smallerA few years ago, my family and I made the long drive to attend my husband’s graduation.  Everything was organised, the journey mapped out; I knew where I was going.  I was so focused upon the destination that when my husband suggested we make a slight detour, I became annoyed.  My husband wanted us to see a particular rainforest that he had visited once before on one of his University trips.  It would add more time to get where we needed to go.  Somewhat reluctantly I agreed, not knowing, when, if ever, we’d get the opportunity again.

The scenic detour took us up long, winding hills, where our surroundings were becoming densely wooded, colder and wetter.  The further up we drove, the more surreal the situation had become.  Below was a clear, sunny autumn in this part of Australia, and when we finally reached the top, it had suddenly become a wet winter’s day.  Stepping out of the car we quickly found ourselves cold, with moisture dripping off our hair and down our noses.  The further we walked into the bush, I really didn’t care – we had walked into a fantasy land.  I felt like a child once again, my imagination took hold and I was obsessed with taking numerous photos.  My husband knew I would like it and getting back into the car, I was reluctant to leave.

For a short time I had taken my eyes off the destination and enjoyed the journey.  Sure, it’s good to be focused on what we want to achieve in life, but sometimes we can become a victim of tunnel vision, that we miss what else life has to offer us along the way.  The journey can take us onto different paths and new situations, and by doing so, we learn and grow.  By taking the occasional detour, it can help make our destination better, stronger and much more rewarding.

Are you a victim of tunnel vision? What detours have you taken towards your goals?  Have they helped you in any way?

Image by Debbie Johansson.