Why I’m quitting writing

I texted my friend, today.

Why do I get so much pleasure out of cooking corned beef? No reply required.

My apologies if you’re vegan or vego.


Corned beef!

I use Stephanie Alexander’s recipe.

I love poking the cloves down into the onions.

Chopping the carrots, real rough.

And the celery.

Tossing in the peppercorns.

Dried bay leaves from my neighbour’s tree.

Slowly, slowly, the kitchen fills with the aroma.

A country kitchen.

I feel like Ned Kelly’s mum. I bet she cooked like this. Chop, chop, into the pot. Wiping her hands on her apron. No muckin’ around.

Hearty food. Comfort food. Food for a chilly Sunday.


It’s the little things.

Well, it is for me.

These lazy Sundays when I never want the day to end.

Himself painting the bedroom. Me cooking, reading, knitting, popping outside once in a while to check on a geranium, a basil plant or the oak I planted in the fairy garden.


I opened a new instagram account this week. Girl and Duck Presents. @girlandduckpresents

Basically, it’s a collection of quotes from my online course, Scribbles, my video tutorials, Q and Q Friday, and my creative writing book, See Me Jump.


This is the quote I posted today — along with a little spiel about occasionally giving yourself permission to step back from your dreams and goals and just live.

I realise, of course, that most of the quotes are things I need to hear, too.

That’s the thing about being wise. The wise one often needs to heed their own advice…

For the past couple of years I’ve been thinking about quitting writing. ‘Retiring’ is a stoopid word and a ghastly concept and you’ll never hear me use it.

Thanks to Himself for this pic. Taken yesterday on the back roads of Nagambie, VIC.

But, quitting?

Don’t like that either.

The thing is though, I’m tired. Tired of the whole damn thing. Tired of the constant striving.


I’m changing direction.

Beautiful old wine cellars. Tahbilk Estate.

A while ago (in a pub in Melbourne), I told a close colleague (an extremely successful author) of my plans to quit writing at the end of 2019.

She looked at me askance. ‘But we don’t STOP!’ she cried. ‘We just, well, we just keep going!’

She probably thought I was shickered.


My energy for writing children’s novels has dried up.

I feel called in other directions.

The dreams I was chasing twenty years ago are not the dreams I’m chasing now.

I’ve known this for ages.


Which is why I haven’t signed up for another series. I cannot, will not, sign my life away again.

Making the decision to quit has been one of the most empowering decisions I’ve made in a long time.


Don’t get me wrong.

I still adore my characters!

Tan Callahan, Danny Best, Tensy Farlow,  Angus Jack, Matilda and Iris Valentine, Norman, Clarrie, Blue, Pepi. Even Haggis McGregor. I’ve built an entire world of loveable, quirky characters over the past twenty years. These books and characters live in my heart. They are part of my being, my soul, my reality.


Nowadays I feel called in new directions.

To art.

And teaching.

Coaching. Nurturing. Helping other creatives on their journey has become a driving passion.

Gardening, sustainability, permaculture, travel.

A more spirit-centred life. However that may look.

I have of late walked the Path of the Priestess. I have discovered that while it is a fascinating, rich and honourable path, and has taught me countless lessons I will carry for life, it’s not the path for me. Not right now, anyway.

I’m too practical.

Or flighty.

Or something.

Either way, here’s the thing.

Since I decided to quit writing, I’ve started to enjoy writing again.


I’m about to write the eighth and final Truly Tan and I’m itching to get started. Determined to make it the best yet.

I’ve recently submitted the fourth and final Danny Best, too, and we’re already working on the cover.

I’m also playing with a new picture book and have another one due for release soon.


In the meantime…

I’ve a half-written gothic novel. Which I may or may not finish. It all depends. I know one thing for sure. I’ll never sign a contract for it. Not until it’s finished.

If it’s ever finished.

Now that I’ve quit writing, I have an idea for another book, too.

A nonfiction book for adults.

A book that will take me on a long journey both physically (UK, Ireland, Scotland, Iceland) and spiritually.

I’m looking forward to this next adventure. To pursuing a shiny, new dream; a dream that had to fight for attention, priority, recognition and, finally, for respect.


So, what is this post all about?

I guess it’s about taking charge of your own destiny.

It’s about recognising when your dreams have become a burden.

It’s about giving yourself permission to change direction. Sometimes in dramatic and scary ways.

But most of all this post is about taking a breath.

And listening to your heart.

Thank you, dear reader, for listening to mine. xo

Jen Signature_web

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21 Replies to “Why I’m quitting writing”

  1. Totally get where you’re at right now, Jen. 😁 And smiling with your final chapters. Whstever you do, it will be the right decision. 💖
    PS Cooking corned meat too for tonight’s dinner and then it’ll be lunchtime sangers with mango chutney, and then finally with the remants, corned meat fritters with salad.

  2. Oh, Jen, oh Jen, I am so there with you right now! For the want of a better word, my ‘retirement’ has given me what you have just written, the next new adventure, the ability to make the next shiny dream come true! Children’s writing may not be for me but I hold other ambitions, enriching avenues I can explore to my heart’s content Here’s to liberty!

  3. That was such a lovely post Jen. So many things nowadays are strangled with times and expectations chocking the joy from them. The last thing many of us want to do is to add another noose. It sounds beautifully freeing. A choosing of direction, a choosing of time frame and choosing of future dreams to follow. Go you!!! As always I will love following your journey.

  4. Maybe it’s just about saying, “I do this because I want to, not because I have to.” And having the freedom to stop and follow another path whenever you want and where ever it may lead. Good luck.

  5. Giving yourself permission to live a life that you want to embrace, is very empowering and everyone benefits . I hope it fills you with great joy, fulfilment and soring happiness.

  6. I so understand this, Jen. It’s that eternal balance and questing with the open heart. I think guiding, coaching others also is a beautiful contribution to the world along side all else you do. As for me I long for a garden! I think the art of detachment enriches and expands our horizons rather than diminishing them. Bravo.

  7. Hi Jen What a heartfelt post. Must have been a tad difficult at times but wow! to achieve or arrive at that moment when you knew what you had to do. It will be fun to follow you as you travel your new and exciting path. Good luck and thanks for the inspiration you’ve been to and for so many writers, including me. The other Jen!


  8. Oh Jen you don’t know how relevant this is to me right now. I decided to quit writing for an extended (maybe permanent) period a few months ago. I haven’t had the success to look back on like you but I have so many other things I want to do and writing began to feel like a difficult chore that kept me from following other passions, waiting in the wings. I have embraced photography and nature studies and I blame/praise you for the other most recent passion – mixed media and art journaling. It started with the first collage exercise in Scribbles and hooked me when I watched your booklet-making video. I am going to write my own blog post (which was going to be called something very similar to yours) but wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for introducing me to washi tape and gel media. I’m having so much fun!

  9. Hi Jen,

    What a brave decision. I’m excited about your new direction and I hope you take us along on your journey (I may have to live vicariously through you along the way… UK, Ireland, Scotland and Iceland are on my bucket list too).

    I have just started reading a book that I think would be interesting to you. It’s by Max Dashu, who has created the ‘Suppressed Histories Archive: Restoring Women to Cultural Memory’ http://www.supressedhistories.net. Her book is ‘Witches and Pagans: Women in European Folk Religion 700-1100.’

    Also, I’m craving corned beef. My husband hates it but I have fond memories of my grandmother cooking it in a big pot and putting in a tin of condensed milk to make caramel for caramel tart.

  10. Dear Jen, I went through a Big Dipper of emotions reading this post. I didn’t want to say something glib because you have bared your soul and the journey it has been and I wanted to honour that. Thank you for sharing so deeply and for your delicious homely welcome through your kitchen. Your post spoke to me in a lot of different levels… first, let’s be honest, panic because I’ve just discovered the duck pond 😳 second kindred spiritness – new word you can thank me later 😉 and too many more to mention. I spent twenty plus years working with youth and it was a pivotal moment when I shut that door. But so many more opened for me to enter. Here I am about to shut another one and, in part, it’s been made easier because of this post, so thank you.

  11. Applause, applause! The joy and passion for following our hearts and for having the courage to change direction. Exciting. You are such an inspiration.

  12. Thank-you for writing these words – particularly your final couple of lines. Dreams can be troublesome, can’t they? We think they’re meant to stay the same or they’re going to be great when they finally come true… and it can be so hard to admit when they’re no longer our dream but we keep going because that’s what has defined us for so long. It sounds as though your decision has freed you in some way, so thank-you for the inspiration to change our dreams when we need to.

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