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The War Inside: Part 2

My weight had always been a problem. You name the diet, I’ve done it. Probably more than twice. Some worked, but never for the long-term. I’d hit a plateau or gain a kilo or two … and perfectionism kicked in. I hadn’t just gained a kilo. I’d failed. Completely. Utterly. I was useless. So I took anti-depressants and decided to accept that I was fat and always would be.

I don’t know why I was surprised when the doctor gave me eighteen months to live if I didn’t take drastic action to lose weight. [Spoiler: Remember, this was 2004.] I’d moved past being a “big” girl and had become an enormous one. 

Not the supposedly “enormous” woman you see on some dieting advertisements … you know, the “colossal” size 2 who drops to a life-changing size 0. I mean the genuinely enormous one who weighs in at 182 kilograms—401 pounds in case you don’t work in kilos. 

I wasn’t changing the world. I couldn’t change myself—not even to save my life.

Anyway, what was the point? I adored my husband (and still do!) but I wasn’t being much of a wife to him. Poor guy. He’d really be better off without me. So I started to detach from him emotionally. My justification was to make the leaving easier for both of us.

It didn’t. It only upset him more and made me spiral down faster. This was March/April of 2004.

Now, you need to know my husband is a complete sweetheart.

Although I tried to ignore his concern for me (and make him mad enough to leave me alone) he’s an engineer. Yeah, I see you nodding. :-)  For an engineer, if it’s broke you fix it. However, if your wife’s broke—and won’t fix herself—you use whatever it takes to mess with her head enough to make her want to take action.

So, one day, sometime in June,  he comes home and waves this flyer at me. “Have you ever heard of RWNZ?”

No, I hadn’t. And I didn’t care.

“It’s Romance Writers of New Zealand,” he says.  “There are a couple of hundred members and they’re having a romance writers conference in Auckland in August.”

I was still trying to process the fact that New Zealand had romance writers at all, never mind a couple of hundred. “Good for them. My book’s a suspense.”

He laughed. “But Jake and Ellie have a romance.”

Which was true. So to shut him up I agreed. (Helpful Tip: Never agree with an engineer with an agenda.)

“There’s an agent coming from America,” he says. “Some big deal guy—Donald Maass. I think you should go.”

And this was where I lost my temper.

“If you think I’m going to spend three days with a couple of hundred Barbara Cartlands, you’re crazy.” They’d hate me. “You know I can’t drive that far.” Sitting behind the steering wheel wasn’t possible for very long and Auckland was a five hour drive. “I can’t fit in a plane seat.” Oh God, those seat belt extenders … “I need two crutches just to walk to the other side of the room.” All those women looking at me and thinking I was a freak.  For three days. On my own. “I won’t know anyone. I can’t do it.”

But something inside me really, really wished I could.

“Yes you can,” he said. “I’ll drive you to Auckland. I’ll stay in the hotel and we’ll walk around together. You won’t be alone.”

And then he lined up the Big Guns.

“What about the book?”

My imperfect heart and soul. “It’s crap.” 

“How do you know?”

“I just do.” What else would it be?

He aimed those Big Guns at my perfectionist brain and fired.

“These people are writers. The Maass guy’s an agent. If the book’s not perfect now, they can show you how to fix it so it is.”

Now, you and I both know there’s no such thing as a perfect book. (Spoiler: There really isn’t.) But the only thing that matters here is I thought there was. And I wanted to write it. I wanted to make something right. Change something for the better, even if it was only a world that existed on the pages of a battered manuscript in my sock drawer. I could change something. 

I said yes.

I had no idea that the real change was about to happen inside me.

What are you struggling to say YES! to? What’s holding you back? Share in the comments!

(I’m still trying to gather the courage to put one of the two photos I kept from that period here on the blog. I guess I’m a coward. Maybe by the time I get to the end of the story I’ll be brave enough.)





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Kristen LambannieShirleyGracieOLouise Recent comment authors
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I only know you from after you made this momentous decision (2005 I think) and so much of what you said above has me nodding in empathy……and yes, you should post a pic or two…..not just for show-and-tell, but to show how far you have come since that decision, how much your life has changed from having the courage to take that first step…..of course, I’m completely envious of your wonderful husband…*sigh*…..


Gracie … you are one of the most courageous people I know. How brave of you to put this out there.


Hey Gracie.
I was there at that conference and then the next conference when you got up and spoke of your journey to us all. I think everyone shed a tear and thought how amazing you are …and still are .
I loved reading this cos it is inspirational and I think everyone has their own journey of hardship. Pictures just underline the difference outside, but it’s inside where the most change happens, I imagine.
Donald Maas was amazing wasn’t he? I wish I could hear him speak again.


(tried to reply but wouldn’t let me for some reason) anyhoo……
a lot of my fanfiction writing was an opportunity to work through issues from earlier in my life. Life is all about experiences – good and bad – and I’ve always found writing to be very cathartic as well as revealing, not forgetting that you can sometimes be an advocate for others, your readers, who have had similar issues to deal with. And of course you can have resolution in writing that you can’t always have in real life….

Kristen Lamb
Kristen Lamb

Gracie, you are one of the smartest, funnest, kindest people I have ever had the honor to meet and THEN call my friend. You are tremendously brave. Fear will always be there and as you have SHOWN, you push past and get it done ANYWAY. I can tell you from experience the more you do it the better you get at it. I MISS YOU!

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