Getting a Kickstart at South Carolina Writers’ Workshop

I tell a good story. That’s what my family and friends tell me. Usually, when they say this, they are laughing so hard they are crying or peeing their pants.  Sometimes I’m not sure if they are laughing at me or with me.

“You should write a book!”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been told that, well, you know.

I think the comic adventures of my cats would get lost on the page. Part of what makes the stories funny are my facial expressions and voice inflections.  I tell stories with my whole body and part of the humor of Ralphie (the youngest cat) walking on the window ledge, is my re-enactment of the activity.  What makes the story of finding him standing in the freezer (after apparently opening it himself) is my mouth dropping open and my eyes popping open when I get to the punch line.

Ralphie walking on the window

Ralphie walking on the window

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy writing. I do. I have a bachelor’s degree in professional writing and I’ve been published in a few magazines and websites. But writing a book? It’s on my bucket list, but until recently, I didn’t feel I had an idea I could carry through 300 pages.

A couple of years ago, a muse finally appeared, bringing me her life story.  Her story so intrigues me, I know in my heart it needs to be told. Unfortunately, this drops me smack in the middle of a historical fiction research nightmare. I’m paralyzed by the fear of getting details wrong and not doing the story justice.

Besides that, I have a day job, five cats (yes, really), a husband, and what might be considered an unhealthy love affair with my TV and The Big Bang Theory. 

Enter the South Carolina Writers’ Workshop (SCWW). I’ve always felt energized by writing conferences and being surrounded by the creativity of other writers. I’m often jealous of their accomplishments; book already published, meeting with an agent to pitch a book they’ve finished writing, or they are already waist deep in the writing process. Jealous or not, I soak up the creative juices flowing through the room and I leave wanting to write. Like, lock yourself in a room for a week with nothing but peanut butter M&Ms and Mountain Dew kind of writing.

I finally started my book at the SCWW conference and I’m feeling good about it. My plan was to spend 30 minutes a day writing. This time, I was going to follow through.

And then I returned home to my life.

I got through two days of 30 minute writing sessions when one of the cats had a medical emergency. Jack is the second youngest and he chewed a foot long piece of string off a toy, swallowed it and needed surgery to have it removed. While he heals, he needs almost constant supervision because he’s not supposed to jump on anything. You can probably imagine how that’s going. We have a dog kennel set up in the living room, but as he starts to feel better, he’s becoming more vocal about the unfairness of it all. He might be more annoyed by the cone around his neck, but either way, he’s not taking his recovery time lying down.

Jack in kitty jail. We got him a larger kennel.

Jack in kitty jail. We got him a larger kennel.

I haven’t written a word since. Jack has 5 more days before his staples are removed. Five more days of following the cat around the house when we tire of listening to him cuss us out for putting him in kitty jail.

As soon as Jack is free to go about his cat business, I’m buying a truck load of M&Ms and Mountain Dew.



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3 responses to “Getting a Kickstart at South Carolina Writers’ Workshop

  1. Dear Julie,
    I am very proud of you. You are doing great. You have us wondering good questions like in a novel:

    Will Julie write her book?
    Will the cats keep her from writing her book?
    Will her husband and the tv distract her?
    What is the story she’s writing?
    Will it soon take over her mind and help her focus on it?

    Thank you for coming to my two blogging workshops. I’m glad you started your blog.

    You might want to fix a category called “Writing” and put these two posts in it. You have a fun way with words. You help us to see what’s going on.

    Celebrate you.
    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards


  2. Thank you, Joan! I appreciate your encouragement and compliments.


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