Tag Archives: Fear

The Year I Turned 18 Blogfest: my post! So many memories…

In the third stop of my blog tour, I’m guest posting on Rebecca Enzor’s blog about revising after contradictory beta reader feedback. Make sure you check it out!

And in the fourth stop, I’ve been interviewed by Bailey Kelsey over at Bailey is Writing! She’s got some awesome questions so make sure you drop by and read it!

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As you probably know by now, I’m holding a blogfest called ‘The Year I Turned 18’ to celebrate the release of my debut new adult novel, The Big Smoke (in which the two main characters both turn 18). Posts can be about anything from that year – something momentous that happened, what your hopes and dreams were at that time, diary entries, anything that comes to mind. 

And this is MY post for the blogfest, all about the year I turned 18.

With my dad at my year 12 formal on the night after my last day of high school.

In preparation for this post, I pulled out my diary from 2001, excited to take a trip down memory lane. Unfortunately, I discovered that the vast majority of my diary is totally boring! I’m not quite sure why I decided to record monotonous events in such ridiculous detail, but I did. I shan’t bore you with those parts! Here’s a quote from early in the year while I was still waiting to find out which university I’d be getting into:

‘Sometimes you’ve got to wonder whether dreaming is that great if it sets you up for a fall. But I can’t possibly think that, because so much of my life is taken up by dreaming. But the dream world of mine and reality are so different. Will they ever be similar? Probably not, but I’ll still keep dreaming. Something’s got to keep me going, doesn’t it?

Why can’t I just be satisfied? Why?? I have so much which I probably take for granted, but on the inside my emotions are constantly see-sawing. Can’t you just balance, please? I don’t even know what I’m bloody complaining about. But maybe that’s part of the problem. I DON’T KNOW.’ 

How’s that for turbulent teenage hormones? 😉 And here’s a bit more:

‘Life just isn’t what dreams are made of. At least, not my dreams. The one thing that really scares me is, what if Billy [ex-boyfriend] is the best thing I’m going to get in life? What if it’s all down hill from here?’

Cheery, wasn’t I?!

A bit later after those entries, I discovered that I’d got into the course that I’d been dreaming of – drama at QUT. Unfortunately, I didn’t really write about it because I was too busy writing page after page about this random boy I obsessed over for two weeks. Teenagers! 😉

But getting into QUT meant a move away from my country home town to Brisbane (sound familiar?!). Here’s a diary excerpt from the day before I moved:

‘Kate [a close friend] just left. She slept over last night. We both cried today because it will be the last sleep over we ever have here, like this. It’s really just starting to hit me now. I’m moving out of home tomorrow. TOMORROW. As of tomorrow I’m supposed to be responsible and mature enough to look after myself. No more Mum and Dad to remind me when I’ve forgotten something. If I’m going to eat healthily, it’s up to me to buy myself fruit and vegetables. If I want to have clean clothes, I have to wash them myself…

It’s weird, I can’t wait to do it [move out], but then in other ways I don’t want to leave at all. I’ve been throwing out all of my old posters, and it just feels like the end of my childhood….’

Here’s the posters I was talking about:

My bedroom wall

My bedroom wall

And here’s me at my new home in Brisbane:

Outside my home in Brisbane

Outside the Brisbane share house

My room in the share house

My room in the Brisbane share house

Sometime later, I wrote this entry about my first trip back home:

‘I really enjoyed going back home to visit. It was really good to see Mum and Dad that night. However, the person that really affected me was Jack [my then seven-year-old brother]. I went down to him in the dirt where the pool used to be. The way his eyes lit up when he saw me almost brought tears to mine. He hugged me so furiously as well. It was really nice to hang out with them on the verandah, like usual. Mum even cooked roast lamb for tea… Jack was mortified that they made me do the dishes. I miss him so much! 

It was fairly cold with the air conditioner on, so I went to get a jumper out of my room. It then hit me that my room no longer held my belongings – they were all in Brisbane. Dad laughed because he realised what I’d gone to do. It made me feel quite sad though, standing in my room with none of my old stuff in it.

Mum and Dad said that in some ways, it felt like someone had died. I know exactly what they meant. It reminded me of when Kerry [a friend] changed schools at the beginning of year seven.  When the rest of us talked at lunch time, I could feel her absence. The conversation seemed to be missing an element that Kerry had provided. When I realised she’d never be back to fill that gap, it truly felt that, in a sense, she had died. 

But I was back. Back listening to Mum and Dad argue, and Jack being told to be quite and sit on his chair… ahh, home! 

A couple of months later, I wrote this poem:

The morning after…

As I sit, waiting for the train
I look through murky eyes
God, I feel like hell today
But I guess that’s no surprise
At a place called Cannon Hill 
Wherever that might be
I don’t really even care
It means sweet nothing to me
The only thing that matters now
Is getting home to bed
Hopefully that will calm
The throbbing in my head

Bits and pieces of the party
Are floating through my mind
People drinking Bourbon and Rum
Or whatever they could find
When I arrived at the party
There were only three people I knew
But as the night progressed
That number slowly grew

Watching a bunch of people 
I’d never met before
I could tell who were friends
And who wanted more
A couple at the party
Were quite saddening to view
She flirted with all his friends
And there was nothing he could do

By the time my accompniants left
I was feeling quite at ease
I’d made friends with everyone
Even the girlfriend tease

Crashing at a bloke’s house 
That I barely even knew
Seemed quite fine and natural
What else was I to do? 

As I awoke the next morning
My stomach let me know
That my fun was definitely over
It was obviously time to go

An expensive taxi trip later
I’ve still got to bus and train
On the wrong side of the city
When even thinking’s a strain!

But despite my current seediness
And having to wait around in the rain
I know that come next weekend
I’ll probably do it all again. 

Towards the end of my first semester at uni, I had a very short romance with a guy I worked with at Eagle Boys Pizza. My diary says this:

‘Well, I broke up with Ben, so that’s over. Somehow, everybody at work found out about us, so we’ve been the topic of constant conversation and jokes ever since. It’s interesting between us though because we’re still friendly, but what happened between us is always present. I’ve actually been dreaming about him recently, but it’s not really him. I mean, it’s him physically, but personality wise, it’s someone else. I guess it’s my made-up Mr Perfect’s personality – someone I unfortunately haven’t had the pleasure of meeting!…

Mum and Dad have supported me so much lately with all of my uni fears and struggles. A few nights ago, Dad drove all the way to Brisbane and took me home because I just flipped from the stress and thought I was going to drop out of uni. Mum and Dad both totally supported me and allowed me to consider it at home that night. The next day, when I had decided that I at least wanted to finish the semester, they helped me do what I had to do to get back on my feet. 

They also helped me when I slacked off with studying for my only exam and then totally panicked for fear of failing it. They helped me get my head together and study for it. Dad called me every two hours while I was home to see how I was progressing and to keep me motivated. It was so insane though. I just let myself get into a mess and I hid in it because I was so scared and so unprepared to do anything about it. I just wanted the situation to go away and not to deal with it.”

That was the last diary entry I wrote for more than five years. At the end of that first semester, I returned to my country home with my tail between my legs. Although I didn’t realise this at the time, it was a classic case of big fish/small pond to small fish/big pond syndrome. At my country high school, I was the best at drama. In my uni drama course though, everybody had been the best at high school, and now all of a sudden I was only mediocre. Poor little teenage Cally couldn’t handle that!

So I dropped out of acting. Interestingly, I couldn’t go for long without a creative outlet, so I turned to writing instead. And I decided to write a novel based around a lesson that I felt I needed to learn  myself (which you may have picked up on from some of these excerpts). The lesson was this: getting a boyfriend wasn’t the answer to finding happiness; I had to do that on my own. Those first ideas were the seeds that grew into what we now  know as The Big Smoke!

My 18th birthday

My 18th birthday (with my brother, grandma and father also in the photo)

Ready to hit the clubs

Ready to hit the clubs

Before the year was out, I met the guy (at the Pig N’ Whistle pub) who would become my next serious boyfriend. A very cute boy called Mark… who is now my husband of eight years! And to think that 17-year-old Cally was so worried that her most romantic days were behind her! Kind of makes me smile now… 😉

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the roller coaster that was the year I turned 18 (Note: I’ve changed some names from my diary entries to protect the innocent!).

If you’d like to read more posts for the Year I Turned 18 Blogfest, visit the Linky List!

And don’t forget to visit Bailey’s blog and Rebecca’s blog for my interview and guest post!



Filed under Blogfests, The Big Smoke, Writing

Insecure Writers’ Support Group: typo-phobia

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“Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!” Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s time for this month’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group post! Can you believe that? September just flew by. Some lovely friend on Facebook tells me that Christmas is only eighty-two days away. Gah! Add another 18 days to that and you’ve got the due date for my baby. That means I’m going to be a Mum in about one hundred days. Oh my goodness!!!

So anyway, some exciting news for you. Yesterday, I received five proof copies of The Big Smoke, so I got to experience the thrill of seeing my writing in a physical book for the first time. Such an awesome experience! (In case you’re wondering, I ordered five copies to spread the America-Australia shipping costs and to have some hard copy ARCs up my sleeve). Mark, my thoughtful husband, video-taped the experience so I could share it with you:

Unfortunately, about sixty seconds after Mark pressed stop on the recorder, he uttered those words no author wants to hear: ‘There’s a typo.’

‘Haha, good on you,’ I said, confident he was joking.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t. As you would expect, I’d checked the final manuscript over and over again, scouring it for any errors. But I hadn’t been quite so fastidious with my final electronic book proof, which includes the ‘About the Author’ and ‘With Thanks’ sections that were never part of the manuscript. And sure enough, on the ‘About the Author’ page (which is the FIRST page of the book), I’d typed ‘thier’ instead of ‘their’ (in a sentence I’d changed at the very last minute). NOOOOO……

Thankfully it was identified at the proof stage, right? Crisis averted! But as a result, I’m now paranoid that the story itself is littered with typos that both I and my copy editor have somehow overlooked. I’ve given two proof copies away to people to read, under strict instruction that they’re to let me know if they spot any errors. So they will share the blame if any suckers slip through!  😉

I know that, at the end of the day, a couple of typos in a book of more than 130,000 words is not the end of the world, but the perfectionist in me is losing sleep over it. What if it’s not just one or two that have slipped through? I wonder as I lay in bed. What if there are ten in there? As a reader that would drive me crazy, and I’d lose respect for the author. What if I become one of those authors even though I’ve tried so hard?

And then I say to myself, ‘Get over it, Cally. You’ve tried your best, and that’s the beauty of self publishing – if there are errors, you can go back and fix them at any point.’

I’m trying to listen to that logical voice. Honestly, I am. But if you pass me in the street and notice that I’ve developed a facial tic, it’s probably a side effect of my latest ailment: typo-phobia. Ahh, the joys and woes of an insecure writer…

In other news, I’ve nailed down another few planks in my social platform, creating my very own Goodreads author profile and Facebook author page. Like me, friend me, follow me, make me feel loved! 😀

Your turn

What do you think when you read typos in a published novel? How many will you put down to ‘mistakes happen’ before it affects your view of the author/publisher? If you’re a published author, have you learnt of typos in your own work? If so, what did you do?

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!


Filed under Fear, Insecure Writers Support Group, Self publishing, Writers, Writing

Insecure Writers’ Support Group: review-phobia

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“Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!” Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s time for this month’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group post! I’m going to preface this post by re-stating one of the key reasons the blog-father, Alex J Cavanaugh, founded this support group:  “Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak.”

So no teasing! Cos I’m about to tell you one of my real, genuine fears.

Now that I’ve decided to indie publish my first novel The Big Smoke, I’m faced with the fact that people everywhere around the world will be able to purchase my writing and then tell everybody else what they think about it. That’s AWESOME but it’s also FREAKING TERRIFYING.

I fear that, soon after The Big Smoke is released, my Amazon page will be swamped with bad reviews by people who absolutely hated my book.

Thumbs down

Bad, bad, bad.

Now, I know that bad reviews are par for the course. I know that every book is bound to get a few negative reviews in its time. But what if they come first? What if the very first reviews that appear on my Amazon page all say my work is rubbish? Then no one else will give it a chance – including the people who just might love it.

Don’t get me wrong. I have confidence in my writing. I do. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have decided to put it out there. But that confidence doesn’t negate the fear. And I think indie publishing perhaps makes that fear a little stronger. If I had the tick of approval from a publisher, I don’t think I’d be as concerned about reviews. But for indies, reviews really are the make or break. Hence, the fear.

I know a lot of you reading this have published your own work – either traditionally or independently. Did you fear bad reviews too? Have you had any? I don’t mean luke warm, I mean reviews where the reviewer seems to believe your fingers should be chopped off so you can never write another word. Any advice on how to quell those nerves?

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!


Filed under Creativity, Fear, Insecure Writers Support Group, Self publishing, Writers, Writing

Insecure Writers’ Support Group: perfecshunism

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"Let's rock the neurotic writing world!" Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s time for this months Insecure Writers’ Support Group post!

I have a bit of a problem, and I have a feeling I’m not alone. I have a feeling this problem is shared by many writers. So here it is… I want everything I write to be perfect. No errors. See, the onley reason I feel comfortable with this going live is becuase I figure you’ll cotton on to what Im doing.

But what about you? DOes this post make your eyes bleed? How would you feel if you discovered that a post you’d published had multiple errors in it? would you be horrifyed? would you be worried what the people who’d read it thought of you? I would. Because writing is what I (try to) do best. Writing is my profesion – both paid and unpaid.

But maybe my fears are a little OTT. I mean, I’ve read posts with errors in them before. I noticed them, sure, but I didn’t assume the author was a terible writer. I just assumed they were in a bit of rush that day and hadn’t been as thorough as they could have been.

What do you think when you see errors in a post? Do you write off the author (pardon the pun)? Or just assume they were in a hurry?

SHould I be as paranoid as I am about making mistakes? Are you? Any tips on how to get over the fear (other than write a post riddeled with them)? 😉

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!


Filed under Creativity, Fear, Insecure Writers Support Group, Writers, Writing

Insecure Writers Support Group: procrastination

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"Let's rock the neurotic writing world!" Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s time for this month’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group post! First one for 2012 – whoop whoop! 🙂

I have a confession to make. Lean in so I can whisper it in your ear. That way, not everyone will hear. Okay, here goes…

I’m a procrastinator.

Phew, feels so good to just put that out there.

Now let me explain. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. I am a hard worker, both at work and with my writing. But I don’t necessarily always expend my energy in the right places. If something seems particularly hard, I’ll put it off and keep myself busy with other tasks. For example, when writing, I might edit an existing scene rather than plough ahead and write the tricky scene that I’m not quite sure how to handle. And at work, I might file my emails or do my time sheets rather than start brainstorming how to write a difficult report.

And while I’m putting off that difficult task, I’m usually worrying about it in the back of my mind, building it up to be even harder than it is in reality. Quite often, once I get my act together and start the tricky task, it turns out to be not nearly as hard as I’d imagined. Which makes me wonder why I ever put it off in the first place!

So I’m making a New Year’s resolution: no more procrastinating. Whenever I realise that I’m putting something off, I will call myself on it and tackle the task. Bring it on, I will say! So that’s the plan. Feel free to ask me in a few months how I’m going with it, because I may need a friendly reminder every now and again! 🙂

How about you? Are you a procrastinator? How do you stop yourself from putting things off? Have you set yourself any writing-related New Year’s resolutions? (or non-writing-related ones, I’m interested in those too!)

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!


Filed under Fear, Insecure Writers Support Group, Procrastination, Writers, Writing

Insecure Writers Support Group: rejection

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"Let's rock the neurotic writing world!" Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s time for this month’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group post!

Something that feeds many writers’ insecurities is rejection. Whether that rejection comes from an agent, a publisher, or even a beta reader (in the form of highly negative comments), it always hurts and can make us question whether we’re cut out for this writing caper.

As much as rejection sucks, it’s pretty much inevitable that every writer will experience it at some point in their journey. In fact, most published authors were rejected by publishers before they were accepted. I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel a little better when I hear that best selling books by authors like J K Rowling and John Grisham were rejected multiple times – not because I’m sadistic, but because it reminds me of the subjectivity of the reading experience. Just because one person (agent, publisher, reader) doesn’t connect with my work doesn’t mean others won’t. And it also doesn’t mean my work is rubbish (although it may mean that it needs more work).

If you’d like to read more about big name authors’ battle scars, check out this awesome post Ann Riley wrote for Aimee Salter’s The Write Life. It definitely helped me to put things in perspective, and I plan to revisit it whenever I feel glum about my own rejections!

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!


Filed under Creativity, Fear, Insecure Writers Support Group, Writers, Writing

Insecure Writers Support Group: war against fear

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"Let's rock the neurotic writing world!" Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s that time of the month again! Oh, hang on – I just realised how wrong that sounds. Let me clarify. It’s time for this month’s Insecure Writers Support Group. If you’d like to learn more about the group, you’d be best to visit Alex J Cavanaugh’s blog. After all, the group is his brain child.

For this month’s Insecure Writers Support Group, I decided to be lazy clever and re-post something I wrote about six months ago that I think will resonate with fellow insecure writers. So, without ado, I bring to you…

Writers go to war: against fear


Fear personified...

Fear has many weapons in its arsenal. It makes your heart pound, your palms sweat, your skin prickle. It makes you shiver, feel nauseous, become light headed.  It shortens your breath, curdles your stomach, disrupts your sleep, scatters your thoughts…

But the most dangerous weapon at fear’s disposal? Its ability to make you doubt yourself and tempt you to give up…

The good news: writers are fighting back against fear.  How? By exposing fear’s nasty tricks and demonstrating how they, personally, have defeated it.

Veronica Roth has outed her fear demons on her blog, revealing she suffers with anxiety about whether her writing will please some key people whose opinion she cares about. But she has also declared that she doesn’t want to be a writer ruled by fear. She is determined not to consult her fear when she makes decisions, in life and in writing.

To me, that’s courageous. As Nelson Mandela said, ‘Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.’

Veronica is not the only one persisting in the face of fear. Ali from Aliventures admits she gets scared whenever she tackles something new. For a long time, Ali thought that meant she was a coward. But over the years, she’s realised it’s incredibly normal to be afraid.

Ali believes that when tackling fear, you shouldn’t try to convince yourself you’re not afraid. Instead, accept that you’re scared. Don’t dwell on it, just acknowledge it. And then do it (whatever it is that scares you) anyway.

Ali’s strategy mirrors Nicole McDonald’s (from Damsel in the Dirty Dress) philosophy in life: ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’ This damsel has been struggling with writer’s block but has slowly but surely been defeating it.

I’m fighting fear too, all the time. And right now, I’m winning. I’m [updated] over two thirds of the way through a major edit of my novel-in-progress The Big Smoke, receiving feedback from beta readers on the first two thirds, and enjoying the whole experience (most of the time!).

How about you? – are you a writer fighting fear? How are you going with it? What strategies do you use? Let’s share our tools and win the war between writers and fear for good.

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!


Filed under Creativity, Fear, Insecure Writers Support Group, Writers, Writing