On Creativity in the Writing Life

When I spent my days languishing in cube-land impersonating Tina the Tech Writer, I often dreamed of what it would be like to sit down at my computer every day to write creatively. Five years ago, when an international move gave me just that kind of opportunity, I envisioned everything cast in gold-tinged light, with bird song, and possibly unicorns.

My life as Tina…

The reality was much different. Most of the first year and a half was spent shepherding my family through culture shock. Then, when I finally sat down to write, I realized that an international move and spawning two tiny children meant I was quite literally a decade behind on my reading. So I read, and read, and read, and blogged, and slowly eased in to a creative lifestyle. I still expected the unicorns to show up any minute, though, because it was sort of cold and dark in Finland and I was kind of lonely.

When I finally started writing, I tried, and failed, to participate in National Novel Writing Month in 2012. I say failed because the story I started utterly sucked. Utterly. Almost as much as the trunk novel I wrote in my 20s.  Yeah, that bad. But then a few months later, I sat in the passenger seat of a rental car as we navigated the desolate backroads of Andalusia, Spain, and an idea that did not suck popped into my head. I pondered it for four months and then sat down in November 2013 and wrote Finding Gib.

I edited, tinkered, sent it off for review, even queried it (too early, one of many newbie mistakes I’ve made since I entered the query trenches). Then I stumbled upon a group of fellow writers I met at various conferences over the summer of 2014. Their friendship and support over the last year has more than made up for the lack of unicorns 😉

And in September of 2014, I started writing another book that does not suck, Quest for the Kalevala. I drafted it over twelve weeks instead of four, and leveraged everything I’d learned from writing Finding Gib. The funny thing about writing, though, is that the more you learn, the more fixes/changes/tweaks you find on your way to getting something ready for agent/editor eyes. So I spent the next six months revising, sending it to my new amazing beta-reading critique partners for feedback, and revising again.

So now I’m in my third year of fully embracing the writing life, and although I swear I catch a glimpse of a flowing mane or the shiny tip of a unicorn horn when I’m in the midst of writerly flow, most of the magic that I’m going to experience is of my own making, on the pages of my stories.

I still don’t have an answer to the question I’m most often asked when I say I’m an author: “When is your book coming out?” But I do know that even with all the hard work, the rejection, and uncertainties, I’d choose creative writing over technical writing every single time.

One thought on “On Creativity in the Writing Life

  1. Julie,

    So fun to hear about how you got started writing Gib and Kalevala! I’m so glad we met! I love sharing the writing journey with you.


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