The lovely Julie Berry, author of the amazing All The Truth That's In Me, is here today! Enjoy! :D
When You Least Expect It, Write It Down:
The idea for my new novel, All the Truth That’s in Me (Templar), was summoned unromantically into the most mundane of settings. I sat on my bed one afternoon, surrounded by piles of laundry to fold, a stack of books, and a snoozing cat. I leafed through a craft book chapter on point of view in fiction: first person, third person (limited, omniscient, and shades between), and second person, the slippery one. My purpose was to find material for an essay. I was a grad student pursuing my MFA.
I read the paragraphs about using second person, and set the book down. “Hm,” I thought. “Second person could so easily be self-indulgent. I wonder if I could do it right.”
I reached for my laptop. A novel addressed entirely to you. What you? Who is you? Why would someone have so much to tell someone else? A sense filled my mind of someone whose universe orbited around another, someone so filled with longing for a beloved that they were the only ‘you’ who mattered. Such a person would spend a lot of time waiting and watching for the beloved. They couldn’t help it. They would know that person’s habits and movements, and would notice any deviation in them. If that person didn’t appear as expected one day, as longed for …
You didn’t come, I wrote. I felt a little shiver.
I waited all evening in the willow tree, with gnats buzzing in my face and sap sticking in my hair, watching for you to return from town.
Yes, yes. The obsessive one would endure indignities like gnats and sap and far worse, so great would be her need to see the beloved. And what would the price be for such a vigil?
Mother chided me ragged for missing chores and supper…
And so the first page went, one thought following another like footsteps, with the creative brain in control, leading me along a path, pressing upon me the question, why? Why does the obsessive one feel this way? Does the beloved know what she feels?
But you don’t know.
And you never will.
For I am forbidden from telling.
I closed the laptop. I’d filled one page. My heartbeat thumped in my ears.
What just happened here?
Starting a new story had not been my plan that day. Researching my essay was. But because I was engaged in the work of authorship, and because I listened and wrote when the little spark appeared (thank God!), a story began. The character, Judith, revealed herself to me gradually yet insistently, with a voice of clarity, vulnerability, and power. She carried herself regally from page one to page 266.
I love Judith. I do not consider myself to have made her.
This was my miracle. I’d had other good ideas, but never one like this.
I have found creative inspiration to be both elusive and present, like a leprechaun behind my back, usually there, but too slippery to catch. Usually I spy him best when I’m not seeking him, when my mind has lapsed into a passive state of slow cognition, such as when driving or taking a walk. It helps greatly if I’ve recently been at work writing, reading, or studying. He seems to favor those activities, and fortunately, so do I.
He’s willful, though. He resists being courted, and shows up uninvited. No wonder we’re vexed by inspiration, sly imp that he is.
I’m back in the ranks now of laboring hopefuls, casting about a passive but watchful eye for any leprechauns lurking around. I remind the universe that I’m ready for miracles. I’ll need them for the new project I’m working on, one whose initial spark, naturally, was kindled on a stretch of boring highway in my filthy minivan. For flashes such as these, I carry a notebook in my purse, and I make sure to pull over before I start to write them down.
Thank you so much, Julie!
Hope you all enjoyed Julie's post! And don't forget to follow Julie's Site and Blog, follow her on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and check out her books on Goodreads! :D
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I grew up on a 50-acre farm in Western New York as the youngest of seven children. I was lucky to be the caboose kid in a big family full of avid readers, with a mother who loved poetry.I had a perfect little library of children’s classics to reread to my heart’s content. I think I came close to memorizing Charlotte’s Web, the Little House books, the Great Brain series, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, The Secret Garden, Just So Stories, Heidi, Alice in Wonderland, and A Little Princess.I dreamed of being many things – a marine biologist, a chemist, a mother, a gymnast, a Solid Gold Dancer – but always, writing was on the back of my mind. Whatever else I might be or do, I hoped writing would be part of the mix.In college I met my husband Phil. We married young and started our family soon after. Now we’re the parents of four boys, including teenagers, and we don’t know where the time went. To keep the gender balance more even in our home, we have two girl cats.After my fourth son was born, I decided that since my family dreams were now well underway, it was time to pursue writing novels. I went back to school and earned an M.F.A. in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of the Fine Arts, where I learned from many talented and committed writers for young people. The Amaranth Enchantment was the second novel I wrote in school, and the first one to sell to a publisher. Since then I’ve written Secondhand Charm, All the Truth That’s In Me, and the Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys series with my older sister, Sally Faye Gardner, as the illustrator.Now I’m home full-time, keeping the cats company by day while I write, and chasing the boys around in the afternoons and evenings. If you want to know if I’m working on another book now, the answer is always, “Yes.”