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The War Inside: Part 8

I’m going to fast forward here because I’m actually telling this for the writing story rather than from the weight-loss side. Although it’s hard for me to separate the two.

Mum’s ability to knit complex patterns never came back. My ability to hold a plot line in my head did … just in time for me to lose it again following a second surgery to repair a hernia a year after the initial operation.

Not happy

One of the things you’ll have picked up by now is that my family is fabulous and my friends are amazing. That part of my life hasn’t changed—and I’m beyond grateful. Of course we drive each other bat-shit crazy sometimes but hey, that’s part of love.

Love Drives You Crazy

So, during the six weeks recovery from the second surgery—when, once again, I wasn’t allowed to do anything—I went to stay with mum. (Probably because it was her house and she wasn’t going to put up with that whole washing issue again!)

I was still struggling to deal with my emotions in a healthy way that didn’t include food. Still saw myself as fat. As ugly. As useless. On top of this wonderfully healthy self-image I’d also lost the plot again. Literally. This time, however, I was 90 kilograms lighter and the recovery time in terms of mental acuity was faster.

My dad had died back in 2000 and I was sleeping in a LazyBoy chair in his old room. One night I woke up and just stared up at the shaft of light on the ceiling from the streetlights outside. My thoughts turned to Dad and how much I missed him. Then, completely out of the blue, I saw what was happening to me.

Light bulb Moment

I’d lost the joy I’d glimpsed at the conference. I wasn’t becoming a writer. Fixing The Book (it had grown capital letters somewhere in the previous year) had become my focus. I’d become a one-eyed nutter with a sixty-a-day perfectionist habit—and I still didn’t have a published book.

I had to stop the crazy. And to make it stop I’d have to take drastic action.

I had to let The Book go.


You can imagine the struggle. If I let it go I’d be admitting failure (never admit failure!). I’d be saying I couldn’t fix it (never admit you’re not capable of fixing anything!). I’d be telling the world that my dream wasn’t worth pursuing …

And that’s when I pulled myself up. Hang on a minute. What was the dream? To be a multi-published writer. (And rich and famous and drop-dead gorgeous, of course—but one thing at a time!) I had twenty books at various stages and files of short stories. Why not choose one of them and take it through to publication? 


The Book was (at the time) a sprawling Tom Clancy-ish thriller with a dozen point-of-view characters and settings that spanned the world. I should take a break from that kind of thing and write something completely different.

Choices Choices

Why not write a first-person heroine point-of-view short story? Make it romance-centric with no suspense element. (Spoiler: never going to happen, and I’ve tried.) Make the plot simple—nothing too taxing or complex. You know, the kind of thing Barbara Cartland flicked off in an afternoon. (See previous spoiler. But if you’re a writer and haven’t seen that documentary clip where she’s dictating her work to a secretary then you need to. I’m still not sure if it was inspiring or intimidating.)

Simple Story

I had several short story ideas that I’d half-written and really liked. So I whittled the choices down to two, then tossed a coin. Okay. Megan and Charles’s May-to-December romance.


I was writing notes for this blog in the middle of the night last night when I couldn’t sleep. When I got to this part I started to laugh. You know why? Yesterday I wrote THE END on HEART OF SHADOWS, the third book in my Scroll of Shadows trilogy that will be coming out late November.

The first book of that trilogy, TOUCHING SHADOWS, started life as that simple short story and was the first book I published!

Touching Shadows by Gracie O'Neil

About the only thing I stuck to was first person heroine point-of-view and Megan Alistair as the heroine—although I have to admit each book has a different heroine. And there’s a paranormal element. 

Told you I don’t do simple!

But what happened with The Book? I’ll tell you about that next time.

Sometimes we hold onto the very things that are stopping us from following our dream because we don’t see them for what they are—pieces of a puzzle, not a final destination. What are you holding on to? How are you going to let it go so you can move on to the dream? Share in the comments.

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I was reading a similar question in a magazine this week, something along the lines of what are you holding onto that is blocking you enjoying/doing what is your passion. I think the real question is do your recognise what your passion is ? or even if you have a passion, per se. Only when you can answer that question, can you then look for what is blocking or stopping you from taking it up. Fear is one of the biggest blockers of doing something you enjoy. But not knowing what is your passion, can be just as difficult a… Read more »

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