Monday, December 14, 2009

The Story Nursery: A Good Day for Writing

So, I've been thinking, I started this blog a little over two months ago and we are sixteen posts in and I haven’t mentioned my writing much at all. Part of this is because I spend so much time in awe of the amazing books I read that I’d rather gush about them on the blog, and another part is that I think I’m on the shy side when it comes to my writing. As I mentioned before, this whole out-in-the-world lack of anonymity was a stretch for me, and part of me is hanging onto that in reference to my writing.

But yesterday was a really good writing day, and I guess I want to share it with others who will understand the fun and the need for the fun. As anyone who has reached the querying stage knows (and those who see it on the horizon can well imagine), the marketing stage of this publishing journey is on the tougher side. The ability to continue after experiencing the waiting, the rejections, and the endurance trial that is querying is what sets apart the dreamers from the doers.

For everything, I have a game plan, and my game plan for developing the perseverance to continue is to make sure that writing is still playful and fun. And thus, the first-draft-a-thon was created. While I have been marketing one YA fantasy, I have been playing in fantastical worlds and meeting new and interesting characters. All of this without feeling like I need to judge these new playful projects, because they are for fun. They have not been edited. It’s all about the first drafts, the babies of the writing process.

My feeling is that when a book gets edited it goes through adolescence, where everything feels gawky and even the best-looking teens feel like creatures from the depths. And when the book reaches its final-draft stage, it’s a grown-up, ready to go out and work for its living, endure the rejections, and keep on fighting the good fight.

I love my grown-up YA story that is being marketed, but as anyone who has been paying attention to my blog and my adoration for Debbie’s new niece, the radiant Miss Devyn, knows, I heart babies and baby stories, too.

And right now the story nursery is getting full with four new first drafts that I’ve written this year. They coo and giggle at me, and I smile and wave and say ridiculous things that make me sound like a lunatic. But such is my writing process.

And yesterday, I finished the fourth of the first drafts after a marathon writing session that filled me with glee. There is a time and place for reading rejections; sending more queries; preparing fulls, partials, and synopses, but there is also a time to write because a story is lingering in the ethers, waiting to be told. There is a time for spending an entire day writing, filled with true joy to be lucky enough to get to be on this writing journey. Not everyone hears the stories like we do. Some people dream of having a niche in this world, of knowing what they want. We do.

Yesterday was a beautiful day for writing. And as I move toward deciding which of my story babies is ready for adolescence and adulthood next year, I’m really feeling blessed. This journey is hard, as anyone will attest to, but it is worth every low point, every hope raised and dropped, and every single minute when my fingers scramble quickly over the keys while a story unfolds before my eyes.

And I hope that no matter how rocky the road, you feel that way, too.

Quote for the Day from Henry V by William Shakespeare

“O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend

The brightest heaven of invention”


DebraLSchubert said...

Cooing and giggling infant stories that grow up to be ready-to-query stories. Brilliant post, as usual. And you really could have mentioned the fact that you wrote nearly 10,000 words yesterday. Yes, folks, you read that right - NEARLY 10K FREAKING WORDS!!! Now that's what I call a write-a-thon.

(Gorgeous baby, btw. She must have "beautiful aunt" genes racing through her veins. *grin*)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Love this. Here's to raising those babies up!

In a lot of ways, this aspect of "play" is one reason I vascillate between picture books and novels. After a novel, I need a bit of time to poke around with words that doesn't feel as big and daunting as a novel. It's a fun transition time.

Jemi Fraser said...

Awesome analogy! I love the baby stage - I'm still there with my current ms - lots of fun :)

Julie said...


Thanks for the comment. And I didn't mention the word count because I thought people would think I was on the looney side of the force, but when I say a writing day, I mean an all-day writing extravaganza. And don't tell my other story babies, but I think I like the one I finished yesterday the best. Shhh.

And of course, Devyn has her gorgeous aunt's genes, but her mommy and daddy are good looking people, too, so I'm afraid you can't really take all the credit. ;)

Indigo said...

And this is why I read you. Reading you is a constant flow of fresh insight into the writing process.

1st draft babies, wonderful concept.

Incredible post, at a time I needed to read it most. Thanks! (Hugs)Indigo

Kasie West said...

I love it. Yes. That's exactly how I feel. I love cooing and giggling at my little babies too (and yelling at and scolding my teenagers, but let's not talk about that). Good luck with choosing which baby to let grow up. :)

Julie said...


I completely understand why you'd alternate between picture books and novels. That keeps things fresh and fun, two very desirable traits in the writing process.

Thanks for the comment.

Julie said...


Isn't the baby stage delightful? No judgment and full of surprises. I might be lingering in that stage. The prospect of doing the hard-core editing thing seems so daunting after so long in the nursery. Maybe if I hide, I can write another first draft before I have to grow up and edit. :)

Julie said...


Glad the post helped. I'm a big supporter of always remembering to make fun happen in this writing process. We write because we have to, but we have to also find as much joy as possible as a bulwark against everything that strains at our core, namely rejection.

Take good care of yourself and your inner, baby-story-loving writer.

Julie said...


Oh, I get decidedly snarky on those teenage-stories. They've got to learn their place in the universe, all right. But the babies get all the sweetness and love I have to offer. Makes you wonder why we were always in a rush to grow up! :)

sanjeet said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.