Being An Author Is A Lot Like Teaching Long Division

Ah…the next book. The Everest for debut authors. When you say I’m working on my second book, non-writers will say Great! Can’t wait to read it, as if that’s a guaranteed outcome.

But other writers will give you a sympathetic look and say, Oh dear. How’s it going? and then possibly offer you alcohol.


I’ve discovered that writing as a career is a lot like teaching long division to fifth graders. It is a slow and painful ascent to the top, filled with tears and hard, heavy labor. Lots of backtracking, and breaking things down to their smallest components before reassembling. A lot of side trips that lead nowhere. More tears, some disappointments balanced with some tiny victories. Some glimmers of hope that grow brighter as time moves on. But at the end, there is success. All fifth graders learn how to do long division. All writers, if they persist long enough, will get published.


And then…you have to do it all over again. A new batch of students comes into my classroom, needing me to roll that boulder back to the base of the mountain and start all over again. A first draft of a new novel sits on my desktop, rough and rambling with not enough plot points and way too much exposition…and I see myself once again at the beginning of a very long and arduous process.


I love my next book. I’ve been thinking about it for a very long time, and if The Ones We Choose hadn’t sold, I would have been very happy to have this second book be my debut. But that doesn’t ease the pain of realizing I have to begin again. And then again. And then again. I’m not sure it ever gets easier. But then, as the saying goes, If it was easy, everyone would do it.


The Ones We Choose is available now!



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Author: Julie Clark

Born and raised in Santa Monica, California, Julie Clark grew up reading books on the beach while everyone else surfed. After attending college at University of the Pacific, and a brief stint working in the athletic department at University of California, Berkeley, she returned home to Santa Monica to teach. She now lives there with her two young sons and a golden doodle with poor impulse control. Her debut, THE ONES WE CHOOSE, will be published by Gallery/Simon & Schuster in May 2018.

2 Replies to “Being An Author Is A Lot Like Teaching Long Division”

  1. I enjoyed reading this post. I have made many starts and stops along the way in attempting to write my first novel. I feel inspired by this piece. It is ‘work’ although many people think it is something easily put together.

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